In the Bloodlit Dark is the long-awaited second offering from Zoar, who once again present a collection of musical pieces to complement the movies within your head...but only if the movies within your head happen to be full of dark and nightmarish scenery. Zoar have managed to hold true to this description even more so than on their debut album, Cassandra*. While not completely forsaking the more epic orchestration of some of their previous work, they do downplay it somewhat with a much heavier focus on ambience and atmosphere. It appears that the goal was to create the spookiest album possible and In the Bloodlit Dark is nothing if not chilling, from beginning to end.
A sizable portion of this album is recorded with the familiar blend of keyboards, guitars, strings, occasional drumming, and lack of vocals. In fact, it is so familiar at times that at least a few of the songs sound like they could have been originally intended for Cassandra. However, during these instances, it is more accurate to say that Zoar have taken the darkest and creepiest elements of their debut and expanded upon that theme. That is not to say that Zoar don't branch out into new territory.
For example, the album also features a notable amount of experimentation with soundscapes. The title track and Ghosts and Molecules are pieces of pure noise architecture, grinding and disconcerting. Meanwhile, Nothing but this Light, a bleak piece featuring only piano, sits on a completely different, but equally atmospheric, area of the spectrum.
Towards the conclusion of the album, Zoar betrays a certain amount of influence from industrial and/or other electronic musical genres. A System of Senses features the use of sequenced noises and samples. The album's finale, Secrets of the Dead (one version of which has been featured on PBS) includes more of the same and a steady beat to go with it which, though danceable (or at least stomp-able or march-able), is not of the sort that tends to be prominent on the dance floors of the popular dance clubs. So there should not be any worries of Zoar going "futurepop" or trance at any time in the foreseeable future. Despite being more upbeat than anything on the entire album, Secrets of the Dead is still quite creepy.
In short, if you liked Zoar before, then you probably own a copy of In the Bloodlit Dark already. If you're looking for some dark and atmospheric instrumental music powered by a high degree of skill and finesse, or if you just want something to listen to while attempting to scare yourself witless with the imagery from your own mind (preferably while alone in a dark room), then you'll probably want to own one as well.
* Reviewed in Legends #88.
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