Apparently pronounced ‘parentes 0 parentes’, Danish quintet (0) displayed arty leanings right from its beginnings: the four tracks on debut EP (0) (Self-Released) affirming the band’s fascination with numbers by being named merely after the track lengths. Debut album SkamHan (Napalm Records) expands to give imaginative song titles and further explore the dark experimentalism that was tested within that initial foray.
Parentheses seem to occupy the band’s thought process: each member being known by their initials, tightly enclosed in brackets. Thankfully that level of constraint isn’t extended to the music: opener ‘Tyndere end Hud’ all gothic jangles and Blackened riffs, the harsh rasp of vocalist (FJ) straining against the weight of the rhythmic pummel yet strangely effective as if Skeletonwitch had found post-Metal and creativity. There is a profound emotional element to the sound, largely based around the melancholy edge given by some post-Punk leadwork which moans and howls through the early stages of ‘Sjælstjæler’: its low chords and resonant bass notes echoing through the track’s bedrock alongside that mournful, shimmering chime. Single release ‘Skarntyder’, however, rudely awakens the listener from this reverie: exploding from the blocks with a heavy, rampaging bluster that nevertheless displays plenty of groove, those guitars dancing and flickering with considerable power before dropping to a painful howl at the coda.
The base of (0)’s sound may lie in Black Metal but the versatility and stirring nature of the music gives it so much more. The haunting beauty of ‘Rod Glørie’s initial stages dominate the track even as it finds its crushing heart, a much slower pace allowing the whole to breathe, building an inner tension and fully revealing its Doom-laden intent: while the dark-hearted ‘Sortfugl’ retains that poignant mood as its angry, buzzing exterior sandwiches a gentle, Latin flavoured mid-section and emotive, scarring finale. The early stages of the penultimate title track ooze sadness, its Funeral pace chiming, and howling before exploding into a Black elegy brilliantly dictated by the huge stickwork of (JK). The stars of this show, however, are those storytelling guitars: dazzling, tolling then crying with true feeling, temperament and timing; in turn creating music that is both structured yet organic.
The closing ‘Alle Renses’ has a much more atmospheric and claustrophobic feel, cosmic pulses swirling around the mind as synthetic bells peal and ring through the soul: ending a voyage of discovery which requires many listens to fully comprehend its magnitude. It’s stretching things to allege that SkamHan is the type of album to revolutionise Black Metal, but not beyond the realms of possibility to suggest that the future of the genre could be redefined by its creators.
8 / 10