Right from the offset, Black Metal has always been a genre that has championed the more esoteric aspects of art. Whether that being in the challenging music itself, or in its purveyor’s presentation, it is also a style of music has always thrived in mystique and continues to do so to this day. Shrouded in mystery with an almost hidden identity, Swiss solo musician Asknt has been (partly or wholly) responsible for a number of varied projects over the years, most recently with the full-length debut of DSKNT, PhSPHR Entropy (Sentient Ruin Laboratories).
With puzzling monikers and little exposition of the album’s focus or content, as well as clear similarities to the likes of Deathspell Omega and Dodecahedron in the sense of controlled chaos and atmosphere, PhSPHR Entropy is surprisingly easy to follow. Still miles away from mainstream peers; with frenetic pacing, multiple layers, notable industrial-like abrasive passages and a claustrophobic ambience throughout, for all the talk of obscurity in their sound, song structures do not deviate too much at all, and in many cases follow very similar riff patterns over the course of entire songs without major shifts in pace or tone whatsoever, which seems at odds with how it wants to portray itself. Coupled with the fact that it proves largely forgettable afterward means this seems like it massively misses its target.
In a branch of Extreme Metal that eschews mainstream tendencies as much as possible for the sense of impenetrability as a badge of honour, PhSPHR Entropy feels like DSKNT is simply trying to hard to sell itself as such with very little substance and actual memorable songcraft. Far from a complete disaster, with some strong elements and ideas, but ultimately this is one that will fall into obscurity, but the kind they weren’t aiming for.