Thursday, December 25, 2014
Listening to this album makes me ponder the question how progressive can a black metal band be and still be black metal. Hail Spirit Noir's last album asked a similar question earlier this year. This album gets off to a creepy enough start convince me that these guys are black metal, if there is not a blast beat to be found for miles around. The ten minute opener has something to do with following a serpents hiss, and the build three minutes in has more in common with Tool than Mayhem. The spanish guitar solo over the more metal under current is pretty effective, but the grimmer than grim might find it a bit indulgent.
They continue to stay vague in their commitment to black metal, there are elements of "Split My Tongue" that are more sludge like Neurosis. The dissonant elements dress the edges of the riffs. The blast does come, so does a charging riff that is double bass driven but passes for black metal on the song" Provoking Spiritual Collapse". The vocals sound awesome when they are doubled up, often some of the rasp is more of a gasp. The chant towards the end of the song is set after a pretty ripping riff, bringing to minds the albums where Enslaved was pushing the envelope , but was still black metal.
There is a sad shimmering before the pound of "Until Our Poison Devours us". They employ some interesting vocal patterns towards the end of this winding epic , it runs more along the lines of black metal, staying close to the progressive leaning. particularly the drummer. When he does oblige with the blast beats you realize how much he has been spoiling you by not doing them. The tom work he does is pretty impressive and while it gives more of a Neurosis sound i like all of the tribal drumming. The guitar players are not slouches, they tend to fall back and let the drummer take over then jump back in.
You have to have an appreciation for atmosphere and progressive rock to get into this album, if you just like raw black metal then this is clearly not the album for you.They indulge in clean tones like the ones that open "Serpent Silence" on a regular basis. The gothy croak of the vocals works for this set against the almost blues playing, these guys make weird choices for sure. They go a denser almost sludge like route on "Golden Light", but the dark almost chanted passage before the blast beaten end of the song is sinister enough to match Mayhem.
The spoken word intro to the vast epic that rounds out this album feels like something Behemoth would do. What I would not expect from Nergal is an acoustic section this flutters down into. At seventeen minutes they have some time to kill, so why not. The undulating pulse it builds in sets a lower growl against gregorian chants. So of course I like the almost goth thing this band has going on at times. Black Metal played fast or slow needs to have a dark ugliness to it in some fashion, and that is accomplished on this song alone. This is one of those album that I have been eager to get on my iPod since I heard, so will round it up to a 9.5