Into The Void Synthpop BlakLight After the launch of their debut album in 2020, BlakLight has been on a non-stop showcase of what they can do within the synthpop field. Remixes, singles, and covers have all been a part of their repertoire throughout 2021 and their name within the scene has only been growing. This has all led BlakLight into their brand new album, "Into The Void", a ten-track release picking things up right where they left off with "Music In a Time of Uncertainty". And while the duo of Brian Belknap and Adam Collier have great production values and can create a synthpop jam, there's more to be desired from the retro-synthpop duo that hasn't quite struck yet. BlakLight has stated that they have been experimenting with new sounds, and those songs that display this trait stand out to me the most. Taking a look at 'Skin', for example, I find myself staring at some of the usual synthpop vices. A rampant bassline, lead dance synths, guitars providing a bit of grit, etc. But there's also a wonderful eastern Asian influence on the track, with a wind instrument providing a wonderful touch to the track. The dance beats on 'Skin' also hits in extremely well; the bass is not too powerful but just hard enough to balance itself out with the softer pads. 'Reset' is another track with these updated measures. Again, many synthpop tropes are on display, but there's a retro, almost 8-bit influence on the track. These sounds make me feel like I'm eight years old again playing my Gameboy Color. BlakLight is able to use these influences without ever leaning too hard into them. Other songs on the album that fall into this department include 'Waiting' and 'Vampires'.Into The Void by BlakLightFrom a technical standpoint, production is top notch, not that I would really expect anything different from BlakLight. Every sound is easily heard and the mixing allows each layer to be respectably heard, no matter how many sounds are ongoing at once. The mastering is wonderful as well; the album sounds crystal clear and I'll be damned if anyone really finds a flaw in it. I'm no musician, nor am I an engineer, but the average person who enjoys music as a hobby should find nothing to complain about in this department.The vocals are largely unchanged from the previous album; Brian Belknap's handsome vocals bop throughout each and every single one of the songs. However, some experimentation with his voice would have done wonders for the album rather than hearing what I perceive to be rather similar situations on the tracks. The effects on his voice can change from track to track but the outcome is tame. For example, on 'Paranoid', has a slight digital touch to them but then come a bit cleaner on 'Reset'. The difference is marginal, and I would have liked to see a bit more. Though, when guest vocalists appear on the album, there is a new sensation. Take 'Vampires', for example, which features Gene Serene. When I first heard two voices backing one another, my attention for the album shot back up because it was different. Vocal variation is a must for the next BlakLight release. My major complaint about this album is largely the same from their debut album "Music In a Time of Uncertainty". And that's that BlakLight is missing a major component that will make them stand out from the crowd. The retro-inspired synthpop act is one that has been seen a million times before, and one that's becoming more and more popular as the days go by. Bandcamp continues to fill with them. Some bands have managed to find a sweep spot between loving their influences and their own unique spin on things. Bands such as Kite, LEATHERS (even if they are somewhat on the darkwave side), and TR/ST come to mind. BlakLight, while having excellent production, fall into synthpop tropes on songs such as 'Paranoid', 'Crack', 'Nightmares', 'Into The Void', 'World', and 'The Fallen'. As good as they are, they do not break any new ground in the genre. And, perhaps BlakLight isn't trying to do that. But that also makes the duo somewhat lack a unique identity. At the best of times, BlakLight can crank out a song that has various influences contained within rather than just sticking to synthpop stereotypes. However, at the worst, they crank out a song that's just that: a synthpop song with no real identity of its own. These songs never sound bad; again, BlakLight's production is phenomenal. But, they do sound generic for lack of a better word and was a problem I noted on their previous effort. Brian Belknap's voice is very sturdy but it has largely remained the same for the past two albums. This has led me to have some fatigue, but hopefully some variation in their next album will cure that. However, for the most part, BlakLight's positives outweigh the negatives and I can still get through "Into The Void" while having a good time.  350
Brutal Resonance

BlakLight - Into The Void

6.5
"Alright"
Released off label 2021
After the launch of their debut album in 2020, BlakLight has been on a non-stop showcase of what they can do within the synthpop field. Remixes, singles, and covers have all been a part of their repertoire throughout 2021 and their name within the scene has only been growing. This has all led BlakLight into their brand new album, "Into The Void", a ten-track release picking things up right where they left off with "Music In a Time of Uncertainty". And while the duo of Brian Belknap and Adam Collier have great production values and can create a synthpop jam, there's more to be desired from the retro-synthpop duo that hasn't quite struck yet. 

BlakLight has stated that they have been experimenting with new sounds, and those songs that display this trait stand out to me the most. Taking a look at 'Skin', for example, I find myself staring at some of the usual synthpop vices. A rampant bassline, lead dance synths, guitars providing a bit of grit, etc. But there's also a wonderful eastern Asian influence on the track, with a wind instrument providing a wonderful touch to the track. The dance beats on 'Skin' also hits in extremely well; the bass is not too powerful but just hard enough to balance itself out with the softer pads. 'Reset' is another track with these updated measures. Again, many synthpop tropes are on display, but there's a retro, almost 8-bit influence on the track. These sounds make me feel like I'm eight years old again playing my Gameboy Color. BlakLight is able to use these influences without ever leaning too hard into them. Other songs on the album that fall into this department include 'Waiting' and 'Vampires'.



From a technical standpoint, production is top notch, not that I would really expect anything different from BlakLight. Every sound is easily heard and the mixing allows each layer to be respectably heard, no matter how many sounds are ongoing at once. The mastering is wonderful as well; the album sounds crystal clear and I'll be damned if anyone really finds a flaw in it. I'm no musician, nor am I an engineer, but the average person who enjoys music as a hobby should find nothing to complain about in this department.

The vocals are largely unchanged from the previous album; Brian Belknap's handsome vocals bop throughout each and every single one of the songs. However, some experimentation with his voice would have done wonders for the album rather than hearing what I perceive to be rather similar situations on the tracks. The effects on his voice can change from track to track but the outcome is tame. For example, on 'Paranoid', has a slight digital touch to them but then come a bit cleaner on 'Reset'. The difference is marginal, and I would have liked to see a bit more. Though, when guest vocalists appear on the album, there is a new sensation. Take 'Vampires', for example, which features Gene Serene. When I first heard two voices backing one another, my attention for the album shot back up because it was different. Vocal variation is a must for the next BlakLight release. 

My major complaint about this album is largely the same from their debut album "Music In a Time of Uncertainty". And that's that BlakLight is missing a major component that will make them stand out from the crowd. The retro-inspired synthpop act is one that has been seen a million times before, and one that's becoming more and more popular as the days go by. Bandcamp continues to fill with them. Some bands have managed to find a sweep spot between loving their influences and their own unique spin on things. Bands such as Kite, LEATHERS (even if they are somewhat on the darkwave side), and TR/ST come to mind. BlakLight, while having excellent production, fall into synthpop tropes on songs such as 'Paranoid', 'Crack', 'Nightmares', 'Into The Void', 'World', and 'The Fallen'. As good as they are, they do not break any new ground in the genre. And, perhaps BlakLight isn't trying to do that. But that also makes the duo somewhat lack a unique identity. 

At the best of times, BlakLight can crank out a song that has various influences contained within rather than just sticking to synthpop stereotypes. However, at the worst, they crank out a song that's just that: a synthpop song with no real identity of its own. These songs never sound bad; again, BlakLight's production is phenomenal. But, they do sound generic for lack of a better word and was a problem I noted on their previous effort. Brian Belknap's voice is very sturdy but it has largely remained the same for the past two albums. This has led me to have some fatigue, but hopefully some variation in their next album will cure that. However, for the most part, BlakLight's positives outweigh the negatives and I can still get through "Into The Void" while having a good time. 
Oct 11 2021

Off label

Official release released by the artist themselves without the backing of a label.

Steven Gullotta

info@brutalresonance.com
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.

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