Grand Rapids, Michigan’s A Pregnant Light started out as an anonymous one-man black metal band. The black metal tag was a next-best fit—A Pregnant Light’s music was lo-fi and full of tremolo picked riffs and blast beats, but over the course of a series of demos and EPs it became clear the band relied on pop hooks and borrowed heavily from post-punk. Early APL releases, on small-batch limited edition tapes, were somewhat curious, too; they forewent the black and white Xerox-ish look of yore, which in many ways still dictates the look of a lot of black metal tape j-cards, for purple covers that were sometimes graced by golden-era of Hollywood stunners. At some point it came out that A Pregnant Light was the work of one Damian Master, and he dropped the black metal descriptor in favor of “purple metal,” a tag that fit APL’s sound better but also seemed like a mild rib to genre purists. Now, purple metal might not be the best fit either. As the session drummer on My Game Doesn’t Have a Name, Jake Duhaime, aptly described it to me, A Pregnant Light’s music is now more like “black pop.”
My Game Doesn’t Have A Name comes after 13 demos, splits and EPs (including one Madonna cover) over the last three years. Master has been quite the riff factory, and despite all of the memorable songs he’s turned out in a contracted but rich history of releases—not to mention his work with his other bands Aksumite, This Station of Life and others— he was clearly saving some of his best for APL’s debut on a bigger stage. (Master writes all APL music, but invited his Aksumite bandmates Duhaime and Tim Lenger to play drums and bass, respectively, on the album.) It’s hard to say that the resulting album has been worth the wait insofar as APL’s development to this point has been so rich, but it is certainly an early achievement of distinction in a promising young career.
My Game Doesn’t Have A Name is a glorious guitar-forward mix of metal, punk, pop, post-punk—you name it—roped into a style that’s unique to A Pregnant Light but will feel familiar to fans of a number of different genres. It’s also by far APL’s most polished release, and the clarity of the recording was almost jarring upon first listen. The move away from a black metal base now seems official, but there are still consistencies that have carried over from that first demo. My Game Doesn’t Have A Name is a confident, ambitious, innovative, and intensely personal album. A Pregnant Light’s music has always felt like it deserved more ears—put the headphones on for this one and get lost in those layers of anguished yells and furiously riffing, dancing guitars.