Despite what many people might believe, Black metal as a genre was always about experimentation, evolution and about finding an identity, even amongst peers. Right from its roots, Black Metal was an ever-changing force with its famous ‘second wave’ icons consciously taking vastly different directions and styles.
The use of electronica, noise and dubstep elements might seem disparate within black metal to some but even this isn’t an entirely new concept with the likes of Progenie Terreste Pura and Mesarthim embracing such sounds within their differing formulae. As opposed to partial flirting with such sounds, Al Ard have completely incorporated them firmly into their core sound on their debut, self-titled effort (Code666/Aural Music), an album that ranges from intensity to pure cheesiness, and manages to be pretty fun as a result.
Al Ard sees a fairly typical strain of Black Metal reoccur throughout, complete with buzzsaw riffs and penetrating vocals, but is lined with industrial-tinged dissident noise, forming a dark and intentionally abrasive mix, which evokes a bustling, modern, urban and sci-fi like atmosphere. The likes of ‘For A Hint Of Divinity’ are amongst the most immediate and recognisable songs, whilst elsewhere they aren’t afraid to venture into more esoteric, noise rock territory, such as on the crawling ‘Red Bourbon’. Name checked as using dubstep in their mix, it is these such aspects which, whilst in reality, fleeting, do feel a little cliché at times, and at times stand out a little needlessly, but that said, they doesn’t detract too much.
Self-described as a dubstep Black Metal outfit, Al Ard ran the risk of coming across as a gimmicky and, potentially, just silly; but the sound here is a lot deeper than expected, and their tagline is instead limiting. Coming across more as a bridge between Industrial and Black Metal, whilst not the finished article, this is an experimental and abstruse mix which offers a lot.