So we’ve brought a couple two-track albums to your attention recently, which we hope you’ve enjoyed. For a change of pace, today we present a one-track album for your listening pleasure.
That one track, “Spasm of Light,” is an incredibly dense wall of black metal noise, nearly thirty-four minutes long. And reportedly the whole thing was recorded live in a single partially-improvised session. I will try to take at least some time talking about the band’s sound as a whole, rather than just spending 500 words gushing about the incredible amount of stamina it must take for a drummer to plow through such an intense marathon. But seriously.
Atmospheric metal band Laster has signed with Prophecy Productions. The Netherlandic group, which formed in 2012 and refers to its ferocious sound as “obscure dance music,” is currently hard at work on its third full-length release and follow-up to last year’s Ons Vrije Fatum (Dunkelheit Produktionen). Laster‘s Prophecy debut is expected in 2018.
A uniquely gifted band with a singular, solitary sound, Laster plays metal with all its fury, but its music could also be described as progressive (i.e. Crack the Skye-era Mastodon), atmospheric, experimental, and even jazz-like. Attempting to categorize Laster‘s elaborately textured and ever-changing style is like trying to catch air with a net; it’s difficult to describe, but “atmospheric blackened shoegaze space prog” should provide a shadowy sense of what to expect. The band has the ability to stun first-time listeners with the utter violence of its initial impact which is unapologetically harsh, particularly with regards to the vocals which morph from flesh-peeling shrieks to ugly, gasping growls, harsh whispers, somber spoken words and rising yells of anguish. Despite its gruff exterior, digging into Laster‘s compositions reveals many layers of complexity.
“Prophecy has been part of our musical development since we were in our early teens. Inviting each other to this dance feels like a proper and weirdly magical gesture,” comments the band when asked for a statement. “At the moment we are in the middle of the writing process. The record will be an expansion of Ons Vrije Fatum. A bit more technical. A lot more nocturnal. City vibes. Some more dissonance. Experimental.”
Laster – De Verste Verte is Hier (Dunkelheit Produktionen, 01 November 2014)
Sordide – La France a Peur (Avantgarde Music, 21 December 2014)
Cantique Lépreux – Cendres Célestes (Eisenwald, 18 March 2016)
My calendar is lying to me, I am sure of this. How could it possibly be only Tuesday, when it already feels like this week has lasted about sixteen years?? I have no reasonable or logical explanation. Anyway, as I sit here watching the seconds creep by, I might as well get something written to share with you folks. How does some atmospheric black metal sound? What about albums by three different bands, who approach “atmosphere” in three different ways? And — rather peculiarly — what about a unifying theme between all three albums that just might make you want to get up out of your chair and dance? What if all these questions were rhetorical, because no matter what your answer, that’s what you’re getting anyway?
Writhe – The Shrouded Grove (self-released, 22 September 2014)
“One-man black metal band” — or perhaps to be more accurate, “one-man black metal project.” What do you think of when you hear (read) those words? It sort of makes my skin crawl just to type them. In my line of work (expert music-opinion-haver), the phrase almost always means bad news: some kid who lives in his parents basement downloaded some pirated sound editing software onto his Macbook, cut-and-pasted the same generic drumbeat for twelve minutes, plugged his crappy guitar directly into the line-in input, screamed some stuff about the Impending Conquest of the Dark Lord Urkel Grue into the built-in laptop mic, and then ran the whole thing through some cheesy preset distortion plug-in. Then found some old black-and-white picture of some old buildings using Google image search, photoshopped some nonsense like “Desolation of Solitude” (using Parchment font) onto it, and then emailed it all to me. The message probably started out by saying “Infernal Hailz.” Never a good sign.
But today — surprise!! — I’m going to introduce you to something that goes against all of those stereotypes…
Laster – Wijsgeer & Narreman (cassette release 01 June 2012, CD release 01 August 2012; both via Dunkelheit Produktionen)
Good afternoon, readers! Are you having a good day so far? I hope so. I know it’s still Monday, but at least it’s almost over, right?
Anyway, I’ve got an excellent serving of black metal I’d like to share with you all. Laster (“libel” or “defamation” in English) is a two-piece band from the Netherlands. Each of the members is also involved in other musical projects, but they both use initials as pseudonyms (and both are credited with “vocals and all instruments”) so it isn’t much use trying to discuss that.
In fact, outside of their city (Utrecht) and country of origin, pretty much everything else about this band is mysterious. They don’t even have a Facebook or Myspace page (as far as I have been able to discover). In a way it’s a shame, because I do like to find as much information as possible so I can be more knowledgeable about what I’m writing about.
At the same time, isn’t part of the allure of black metal its arcane nature, that sense of mysteriousness? Perhaps sometimes the ease with which the internet has put nearly limitless information at our fingertips can actually detract a bit from the magic? Turn the extraordinary and unique into something familiar and commonplace?
In any case, that’s the extent of the details I am able to share. Even the EP title and each of the three song titles have aluded my translation (via Google) abilities. I’ve been able to pick out a few words, but not enough to decipher anything meaningful. For example, the record is called Wijsgeer & Narreman; apparently the first word means “philosopher” or “sage” but the second part has no results however hard I try searching. Perhaps one of my helpful Dutch friends will want to offer some assistance?