The Philly frontman highlights a significant yet often overlooked component of a release.
Words by Luis (@luis.hoa):
A month ago today, Solid State Records gave way to THE DROWNED GOD's Pale Home, a compelling full-length of serene aggression that came well equipped by a Can Pekdemir cover. Though the band could be loosely tagged as blackgaze, it would do a disservice to the depth presented throughout Pale Home for after three full-lengths, THE DROWNED GOD have honed in on an approach that abides by no genre confines. It's at times unbridled and at times melancholic through melody, making for one constantly unfolding listen that welcomes multiple visits. Pekdemir's black and white prowess excels at creating an intrigue for listeners unaware of the experience contained within, an experience that is best felt in solace.
Music aside, THE DROWNED GOD are a band who understand the significance of visual investment, as one could tell with their three exquisite album covers so far, two from Pekdemir (Pale Home, Moonbearer (2017)) and one from Natalia Drepina (I'll Always Be The Same, 2019). However, it's important to note that an integral element of a band's visual identity are promo photographs, the likes of which vary per album cycle. Since their inception in 2015, the Philadelphia unit have embraced the somberness of the black and white in their promo shoots. Like an album cover, photographs stick to a listener's mind and become the first image that pops up in a listener's mind upon the band being referenced. When you think of Manowar, four shirtless, sword-wielding dudes come immediately to mind. When you think of Immortal, you visualize a corpse-painted trio parading around the forest.
The impact is subtle but crucial, especially in an industry where releases are pumped out by the dozens on a weekly basis. That said, THE DROWNED GOD do right by themselves and remain true to their craft, building a genuine approach to a visual identity that elaborates on their maelstrom of sound. They're all encompassing and with only six years under their belt, they're a band you'll want to keep on your radar.
To further elaborate on the importance of a visual identity, we asked THE DROWNED GOD founder and bassist Brandon Baun to identify five of his favorite band promo photos across time:
Terra Tenebrosa (The Tunnels, 2011) Press Photos
I don't think any band personifies their music through press photos quite like Terra Tenebrosa. The black and white image of the band wearing masks that were created by the vocalist perfectly encapsulates the nightmare that is their music.
Xasthur (Noose Photo)
The grainy image of Malefic wearing corpsepaint and standing next to a noose is a classic. Both eerie and darkly absurd, this press photo is a striking representation of Xasthur's early music.
Philip Glass (First Classics 1968-1969)
Philip Glass has been one of my favorite composers since I was a kid and I remember seeing this photo while reading about his album 'Glassworks' (1982). It's hard to get a read on his expression in the photo, which makes it that much more intriguing.
Björk (Utopia, 2017) Press Photos
Björk perfectly captures an alien, otherworldly atmosphere in these press photos. I'm not sure how much of these press photos are done with make-up and how much are digitally altered, and that makes them even more fascinating.
Immortal (Forest Photo)
I've always loved how goofy Immortal's image is, and there is one press photo that still makes me laugh every time I see it. The band is walking through a forest and the vocalist is carrying a battleaxe and they are all wearing spikey armor and frowning. It's perfectly over-the-top.
Pale Home is available now via Solid State Records. Order your copy HERE.