Posts Tagged ‘Extreme’

Roman Numeral (US) / Wolves And Vibrancy (EU) –13th August 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Linear narrative can be so dull, so predictable, or otherwise lacking in intrigue and imagination. There is so much more challenge – both as a writer and a reader – to a work that doesn’t follow that standard beginning / middle / end convention. There’s nothing predictable or obvious or linear about Fawn Limbs’ their third long player.

‘Day three. I woke up in a bed made of hay and roots. For a brief but fleeting moment, I couldn’t recall the incidents of the past days…’ This is how we arrive in Darwin Falls. It’s a sparse country vibe, a bit True Detective. It’s hazy, hot. The dry, cracked voice of Lee Fisher narrates the scene, and we’re as lost and bewildered as he is. Where are we? Why are we here? What the fuck happened? The picture gets darker as it unfurls, and it’s a slow, languorous build… and then, unexpectedly, everything erupts and shit spews forth as if from a volcano bursting from the very molten pits of hell. It tears with a burning fury at your guts and at your organs, and this is punishment. And then, this is calm, this is tranquillity. This is schizophrenic, unpredictable. It’s too much to process.

How you do describe Fawn Limbs? Odd and experimental is perhaps a fair starting point, and the first track in this is both. ‘Nesting Lumens’ is abstract and ethereal, a shade abstract, but it’s also raging chthonic demon-noise metal and all the brutality delivered with a razor-sharp technicality. It’s perhaps most interesting when the rage dissipates and we’re left with expensive post-rock tropes, and these extend into the majestic

The Transatlantic trio describe themselves as ‘avant-garde mathgrind’ and that seems a fair summary of the blistering hellfest that is Darwin Falls.

We’re still struggling to find orientation amidst the slow-twisting post-rock smog of the opening segment of ‘Wound Hiss’ when things suddenly turn brutal, a battering sonic assault that’s brief but so violent as to cause concussion.

It’s the extremity of the contrasts that render these songs so staggering in their impact. As a post-rock band, they’re outstanding at forging delicate, graceful pastoral pieces, musical passages of delicacy and grace – but instead of breaking into breathtaking crescendos of cinematic beauty, they rampage into howling blasts of anguish that explode on the most frenzied slabs of extreme metal. There are moments of eerie spaciousness, as on ‘Caesura’, a short piece which appropriately provides a moment of respite, and mellow interludes such as the still waters of laid-back jazz at the start of ‘Twitching, Lapsing’ which jolts into life with a haemorrhage-inducing blast of rampant noise and only becomes more impossible as the brass collides with a nuclear storm and a tsunami of noise.

If Justin Broadrick and co successfully combined free jazz with slow, industrial grind as GOD, then Fawn Limbs push the concept to another level, and the spoken word sections provide a fascinating counterpoint to the roaring, blazing sonic blasts that come in between. But ultimately, comparisons simply don’t hold up here. True innovation is rare, and we’re unaccustomed to it: it’s difficult to respond to it appropriately, somehow. It phases us. Shuddering, bemusement, bewilderment. A lack of comprehension. How do you measure it, and how do you process? Darwin Falls is a remarkable album, a sonic supernova, and it’s no mere hybrid: it is truly unique. Prepare to have your mind – and eardrums – blown.

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Darwin Falls ARTWORK

Dio Drone – 9th December 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

OvO’s evolution over the last couple of albums has been substantial: the brutal, demonic mania of Cor Cordium was utterly terrifying in terms of just how dark and full-on it was. Not that Abisso was exactly a stroll in the park – in fact, it was truly petrifying – but some of the unbridled power of its predecessor was exchanged for a greater range, and a closer attention to nuance with the incorporation of texture and depth-bringing electronics.

Creatura marks another shift, and yet again, they’ve come up with something that sounds like it is not of this world. Pushing hard through the loud / quiet dynamic – with major emphasis on the loud, of course – the sound is has a dense, industrial quality. Combining live and programmed drums, with the bass and percussion tracks being first recorded live and then looped, sampled, overdubbed, overlayed and generally embellished, mangled and fucked with, it incorporates elements of black and industrial metal, but it’s so much more. And so much more spine-shakingly scary. This is beyond the realms of horror. It’s extreme, for sure. It’s an album that will smash your psyche.

The stop / start drums and snarling bass calls to mind early Pitch Shifter. Above all, it’s the percussion that dominates. The mechanised double-pedal bass drum sound pounds like fury while Stefano shrieks and howls through shards of feedback on opener ‘Satanam’. ‘Eternal Freak’ explodes with drums on drums, the snare sound approximating planets exploding, and guitars like jet engines roar with cranium-cracking intensity. The deep, snarling vocal on the title track is from beyond the bowels of hell and cannot possibly have emerged from the throat of anything with even a strand of human DNA. What kind of creatura is this? It’s a mutant beast from the deepest netherworld, and that’s for sure.

While the bulk of the material is driving and muscular, the sample-strewn experimental breakdown of ‘Matiarcale’ strips things back to a kind of mutant hip-hop. The fear chords which swim around the pulverizing drum track introduce another layer of disturbance.

The appropriately-titled ‘Zombie Stomp’ reveals a hitherto unseen facet of the band, manifesting as a glam rock boogie – OvO style, of course. It’s still loud, hard and heavy, but there’s even an approximation of a vocal melody, albeit one as performed by Alvin Stardust’s reanimated corpse after it’s been possessed by the spirit of Zuul.

‘Buco Nero’ continues in this vein, a post-punk track at heart, with a tune and everything, but churned to a gut-wrenching doom-filled sludge. Counerpart ‘Buco Bianco’ is a techno-disco behemoth, along the lines of Chris and Cosey collaborating with Bathory. It would be a danceable pop tune if it wasn’t so utterly fucked up. The same can’t be said of ‘Bell’s Hells’, which is a minute and a half of thunderous savagery. Closer ‘March of the Freaks’ has hints of Nine Inch Nails about it but the stuttering beats and gnarled vocals make even Broken sound like Soft Cell.

It’s the fact that Creatura so often hints at accessibility which never emerges in actuality which renders it such a fearsome and disturbing work. Whereas Cor Cordium and Abisso were truly other-wordly, Creatura inches close enough to recogniseable forms to offer a warped reimagining of the world we know and as such, is deeply uncanny, in the Freudian sense. Weird, dark and intense, it’s an album only OvO could spew out: it’s also eye-poppingly awesome.

 

OvO cover