Every so often, I find an album that is really good but I don't know if I really enjoy it because some aspect of it makes me feel like I have my head against a washing machine while it's on the spin cycle. Usually when that happens, I see colors that make me nauseaous (dirty olive drab green and royal purple anyone?) This is when it becomes a test to see if one can maintain a neutral mindset despite your brain telling you that your skull is being vibrated at twelve to twenty five revolutions per second.
But then, isn't that what any good denizen of the blackened death metal world can and should do? So began my journey through the dark, dusty, poetically profane, and brutal world of France's Svart Crown and their newest creation.
"Abreaction" released March 3 via Century Media.
Abreaction is defined as: the expression and emotional discharge of unconscious material. Now having worked in an industry were this happens a ton, I could launch into a lengthy diatribe about it, but I won't. I'll simply say that I do enjoy songs whose lyrical content makes me think....even when my senses are on red alert overload. I'm dodging any of the weird stuff this time around. I think we've already established that my point of view is a bit outside of the box. Plus I don't like picturing those colors together ;)
Let's get to the music....
Opening with a song like "Golden Sacrament" is a pretty direct segue into what this album is trying to create for the listener. It's atmospheric as fuck, kids, and it brings out images of all things decadent, dark, and most unholy. What starts with whispered vocals and hints of what is to come, morphs into madness. "Carcosa" will knock you on your ass. It starts out quietly (think loud = wall of sound, quiet=no wall), then come the guitars and a heavy blast from the low end that echoes through your entire body starting deep in the brain....or maybe that was my earbuds....no seriously, it's like getting toppled by a huge ocean wave. This track, and the next one especially, "The Pact: To the Devil His Due" are the stand out examples of what I like most about this album. That bass line never disappears into a sea of treble heavy guitar leads, and the drums in all their machine gun bass heavy glory, never start melting into a big puddle of sound.
"Upon this Intimate Madness". It starts crazy and stays crazy. Lace up your boot straps, kids. Then half way through it turns into likely the most headbanger friendly track on the album. By that I mean if you head bang to this song, the tempo is such that you won't paralyze yourself or shake your brain into metal tinged oblivion. "Khimba Rites" by title alone put me into this tribal state of mind. The vocals, deep and chant like in places, really cemented my headspace. The guitar work here is some of the tightest on the album. Over all it strikes a nice balance to the ear.
"Tentacion" opens with haunting guitar work and a drum line fit for a march to your doom. Horns up to production and to Kévin Paradis. The snare accents are reminiscent of soldier boots marching in perfect time. Listen with your eyes closed. It will scare you.
"Orgasmic Spiritual Ecstasy". I secured my belief that I have to find a lyrics sheet for this album. This one has me curious. This one is a balls to the wall assault on your ears. One can imagine a state of complete detachment from reality, lost in sensation, be it ecstasy, or be it terror. There's alot going on in this track, and the ironic part is when it's over, you're tired, much like you are post orgasmic ecstasy. Yep, I definately need the lyrics for this song.
"Transubstantiation". This one will have to grow on me some. I'm still giving it a chance. The individual parts are executed perfectly in my opinion, but sometimes one can venture into so much perfection that it seems formulaic.
"Emphatic Illusion". Riff heavy. Definately riff heavy. Curious thing about this track is that the first part of it is exactly what I think of when someone says blackened death metal. It's an aural assault. However, the last part has enough doom flavor that it made me rewind to the middle of the song and listen to it again. I had a "wait a minute....what?" moment.
"Lwas" sneaks up on you much like the intro to a great horror movie score would. My only question is this. Why put it so far down in the track list? I feel like it could be closer to the middle of the album.
Last but certainly not least, "Nganda". There's some nice solo work here. Also I like the riff. The part I appreciate the most here, is again the low end. There is a ton of treble that a bass line could drown itself in, but it does not. Over all, this song leaves me so discomforted, but that is exactly as it should be. Blackened death metal isn't supposed to be a fluffy happy experience. It scares the shit out of you....and I don't mind it a bit.
"Abreaction" is a really good album. I wish my sensory quirks agreed with me. Svart Crown has done its job well, though. You have made me uncomfortable and curious, and now I must investigate the rest of your catalog.