Following up 2016’s widely acclaimed In His Infernal Majesty’s Service album, Witchery have announced the release of their new album “I Am Legion” for November 10th via Century Media. The group consisting of bassist Sharlee D’Angelo (Arch Enemy), guitarists Patrik Jensen (The Haunted) and Richard Corpse (ex-Seance), vocalist Angus Norder (Nekrokraft), and drummer Christofer Barkensjö (Lik) have also shared the first incredible single online. Continue reading →
If you ever need reminding how insular Metal has become, and how incomprehensible it can seem from the outside, tell a non-Metal friend that “Suicidal Black Metal” is an acknowledged sub-genre term and see how they respond.
Pestilential Shadows play the kind of slow, “atmospheric” Black Metal that trades aggression and chaos in for bleakness and stark melody. Long, meandering compositions based around sinister riffing and mournful shrieked vocals, Ephemeral’s (Séance Records) seven tracks offer no surprises but accomplish what they set out for with aplomb. This is music than can become dull and repetitive quickly, but Pestilential Shadows have a solid grasp of bleak melody which keeps their songs engaging and memorable – the soloing in particular is quite beautiful at times, and their riffs are genuinely catchy in the way that Black Metal bands often fail to be.
The biggest drawback to Ephemeral is the same as that of many of other Extreme Metal records – that there’s little to really set it apart from the other albums in its genre. With a defined, formalised style and such a narrow emotional range, it’s inevitable that there’s little to distinguish Pestilential Shadows from their peers. Without fresh ideas or a blurring of genre-boundaries only high quality could cause them to stand apart, and though they’re competent to a fault they’re not quite good enough for that. As lazy a journalistic cop-out as this is, Ephemeral is ultimately one of those if-you-like-this-kind-of-thing, this-is-the-kind-of-thing-you’ll-like albums – a worthy listen for anyone already sold on this very specific style, but not good enough to draw attention beyond its automatic fan-base.
Let’s get it on the table – Through The Window of Night (Séance) is well played and excellently produced with a good energy. Frontman Raato unleashes powerful, feral howls, and Pentele shines with a 36 minute holocaust from behind the kit. This is a decent black metal release with very obvious Gorgoroth and Immortal reference points.
However, for all its’ competency, like so many faceless corpse-painted albums before it, Through The Window Of Night is pointless. It has no personality, no individuality and serves no real purpose. Not every album should, or can be boundary pushing, but sticking rigidly to a style and formula that has been stuck rigidly to for nigh on twenty years by countless others leaves them in the middle of an unspectacular and very large pack.
Black Metal is intrinsically a scene of contradiction – claiming rebellion and anarchy while entrenched in blatant retrospection and reverence to a select few hallowed reference points. But these days it’s a blunted rebellion, stunted by a refusal to move beyond a formula that was first laid down 25 years ago by Bathory and then refined and defined by Darkthrone, Burzum, Mayhem, Emperor et al.
Staring out the window wistfully (the proper one, the one in the wall, not one of night), a half-grin plays on the lips as fond memories tickle the brain of a time when black metal was exciting and boasted creativity and diversity, when acts mutated and pushed boundaries. Sadly Through The Window of Night, for all its’ sonic strength and no matter how well played it is, lacks any desire to be anything other than just another black metal album. If they were alone in their Gorgoroth/Immortal worship, then I might think more kindly, but it’s over 20 years since Pure Holocaust and 18 since Antichrist. The repetition of sound and style by Graveborne and others is well beyond boring now.