Saturday, 26 March 2016

Jadedness and rejuvenation: is there such a thing as too much metal?

It's all been a bit quiet this week because this writing lark has all become a bit of a chore. I knew this day would come. It was inevitable, but I'm sure a spurt of writing passion will come again. I've partly been struck down with a music overload, an auditory avalanche that started at the very beginning and has finally cascaded over me and numbed me into apathy and jadedness. 

I actually took a few days off from extreme-metal in general - that's completely blasphemous, perhaps even beyond comprehension, and I should be scorned and attacked. I think it's for the better actually; I've given myself a bit of a break and refreshed my mind and now I'm listening to stuff again and I feel a bit rejuvenated. Too much of one thing can deaden the impact and power it has over you and I think sometimes withdrawing oneself is needed. I've also had a short stint of minor man-flu which hasn't really helped motivate me, in fact I've been sort of sliming around the house like a anti-social malnourished vampire slug, cowering from bright light and human contact. In an even stranger run of events I've found myself listening to genres I've only touched upon very briefly before: trip-hop, downtempo, soul and hip-hop (Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly is a masterpiece of conscious rap, hip-hop, funk, jazz-fusion) - it's been a very diverse and interesting week of musical discovery and I have been exposed to some extremely interesting stuff from a cross-section of genres that are rather alien to metal - perhaps I've been possessed. 

But I found my way back to the gruesome house of metal and found the urge to delve into some of the grossest and most forlorn music to counteract the weird and wonderful journey I had taken in the days previous. The Ruins of Beverast and Leviathan are two solo-projects that are truly empowered by hatred, misanthropy and grit. Their music is a spiral into hopelessness, there really isn't much to cling onto with their music melody-wise. I listened to their most recent albums - Blood Vaults and Scar Sighted - two extremely engrossing and disturbing musical words, vast in scope and detailed in range of sounds. Both are dark ambient forces infused with slow and desperate elements of doom and soaring moments of sharp black-metal; it's the atmosphere, however, that creeps through the album like creeping fog, that really makes these albums, and these bands, great. 

Atmosphere comes first here and it is controlled and utilized to intensify the proficient instrumental work, it's the glue that binds and without it you're stuck with a sterile and fragmented series of individual songs and moments that just sort of stagnates and jumps from one to the next, leaving a feeling of dissatisfaction. Albums need to flow and songs need to work together, speak to one another. 

Demilich's Nespithe does this so very well - fragments of riff patterns from previous songs repeat throughout the album, sometimes exploding briefly then disappearing and at other times merging with other songs fluidly. The entire album is a variation of the riffs heard on the first song, and this never gets stale, partly because of the eccentricity of the riffs to start off with, and partly because of the entirely fucked-up alien-demonic universe that the band had created as a foundation to the music. I don't like it when a song just ends, or fades out, leading to silence, a five or ten second silence that leads to the next song.

 To me some albums are just 8 or 10 or 12 songs just glued together. Some people like stand-alone songs, which is fine, but metal as a genre thrives because of the scope and the power of the album as a whole. It should be, in my opinion, 40-minutes of interconnected sounds, patterns, themes, riff-work, that subtly repeats and interweaves and flows organically and naturally. Unnatural attempts at connecting albums to make them seem more coherent are just as bad at times too; some bands try to bridge that silence between one song and the next by splicing in an out of place orchestral-strings interlude, or a somber piano piece, or a spoken-word piece talking of the cover-up of chemtrails, etc, etc. It shouldn't be forced. It should be carefully worked into the songs and into the period between songs. This is what The Ruins of Beverast and Leviathan do well.

 If you have got this far, thank you for reading this jumbled and chaotic mess of thoughts and feelings and I hope to have more frequent posts up in the near future. 

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