EP REVIEW: Bleak Soul’s debut release, “Existential Meditation”
When it was announced that Ben Langford-Biss would no longer be a part of his long time act, As It Is, it honestly upset me because I knew how creative that man could be and what an integral part of the band he was. So when he announced on Twitter a few weeks back and slowly started leaking his new project, Bleak Soul, I knew I had to write about his sad yet gorgeous EP, Existential Meditation. It’s a fast and furious 25 minutes, but every second of it is heart-wrenching and gorgeous.
Existential Meditation is a whirlwind ride and one I should have been more prepared for. The album is eight songs of sorrow, emphasis on mental health and positivity about the future. Which most definitely can be hard to find in this time of course, but it’s something Biss is now embracing with this new project and as he did with As It Is. The record reads like an unfiltered view into Bliss, be it the good and the bad. It reads so smoothly and tells a beautiful journey from lead off track Why Am I Here? to the acoustic Exist that closes the record.
With Why Am I Here?, and the lines ‘Do I feel the fear or do I just fear feeling?’, we get set up for what’s about to hit us. It’s something I definitely didn’t expect for the first full length but it’s the journey that crushed me. Be it the more upbeat energy found with Palm Springs (An Observation from an Elevation) to the 90’s grunge feeling of I Want Out. To the line in A Beautiful Murder, A Hideous Sunrise with ‘Deliver me to evil because being good got me nowhere’.
But easily what hit me hardest was listening to the spoken word Twenty7 with first, ‘I’ve almost made it past 27, another club I just won’t join’ and really pins the nail in the heart when speaking about not having As It Is as part of his life anymore. From there, the album progresses into easily the most sonic aggression I think we’ve seen so far on the record as we pass through the album with “Handmedownhead” before we hit the final previously mentioned track, Exist. Being potentially the brightest song on the album, it’s the first acoustic number for Biss on the record and there couldn’t have been a better way to end this album. It brings us back to mind the first track on the record and brings closure with asking ‘why the fuck it has to hurt to feel’ but also shines some light on the future.
This is an incredibly difficult time for the world as a whole and while art is our armor as I’ve said it a million times before, bleak soul’s Existential Meditation seems like that applies to all parties. It’s a painfully honest representation of thoughts and feelings that I’m sure are felt in part by Bliss and many others of course. This is the release we all needed.
Pick it up/stream it here!