My own personal love affair with science fiction novels began in 1992 with two well-meaning hand-me-downs from the early 70’s: ‘The Far Side of Evil‘ by Sylvia Engdahl, the second in a series of novels from Engdahl featuring a female astronaut as the lead, a book whose message left me curiously believing the future of humanity lies in colonization of other planets. The second was ‘The Dark Side of the Moon‘ by William Corlett, unremarkable storytelling that asks ‘big’ questions of existentialism from the perspective of a young adult juxtaposed with the bleak anxieties of an astronaut caught in a bind alone in space. If these novels surely enriched my curiosity for philosophy and scientific exploration as a child then I’d say Isaac Asimov‘s ‘Foundation’ series inspired my tiresome need to puzzle through life taking notes and staring off into space. ‘The Gods Themselves’, a split album between nigh psychedelic Ukranian black metallers microcosmys and Canadian ambient black metal project La Torture des Ténèbres, offers a fitting accompaniment to the truly curious Asimov novel of the same name.
‘The Gods Themselves‘ is a diffuse, oddly sexual and mind-rending novel that appeared entirely out of character for Asimov back in the early 70’s, as he’d spent a decade focused almost entirely on scientific education, and came out just as the Skylab orbital workshop missions dominated the year’s news. Though I’m not here to review the book I will say if you found the dry, rambling complexities of his Foundation series impenetrable ‘The Gods Themselves’ is more Twilight Zone than anything else and plays out in an odd non-linear fashion. Para-universes, alien sex, The Soft Ones and The Hard Ones they seek for guidance… It was all Asimov striking back at critics of the past and making a modern monstrosity of a science fiction story: Non-linear storytelling, perspective shifts in each section, all brashly abstract and ‘fresh’ considering his past work. What does this have to do with atmospheric black metal again? Righteous inspiration, and a fitting theme at that.
microcosmys are a Ukranian duo who use uniquely tonal raw black metal sound to create a certain fuzzy clangor as they pluck doomed and wailing odes to the creations of Asimov and the deathly vacuum of space. Think of Oranssi Pazuzu or Darkspace but replete of their lushness and/or space-rock interiors, guided more by mid 90’s experimental demo tape din and classic sci-fi soundtracks. Their Side A is a precisely executed flitting of riffs that ring with a certain horror that only works of science fiction bring. An Ottawa, Ontario based solo project, La Torture des Ténèbres is a far more blustering fusion of abrupt, matte atmospheric black metal movements that eventually drift into dark ambient rests. Consider the storm of Abigor pushed to it’s limits and then graced with shimmering lead guitars and rolling blasts of feedback. The intensity of this Side B is relentless, as if programmed in preparation for nuclear annihilation.
As a surreal duo of artists creating in tribute to a twisted, anomalous science fiction novel ‘The Gods Themselves’ is a worthwhile curio. If you’re simply a sci-fi extreme metal nerd, a raw underground black metal fanatic, or a seeker of transcendent gems of ‘amateur’ outsider art there is some great value in discovering these two projects. I found it to be a movingly psychedelic experience that balanced perfect hits of jarring rawness and imaginative, escapist-courting dissonance. Each projects use of atmospheric black metal structures in creation of ‘songs to let the mind wander within’ is at the very least a good time to be had.
|Released||July 13, 2018|
|BUY/LISTEN on Xenoglossy Productions’ Bandcamp!||microcosmys on FB | La Torture des Ténèbres on M-A|
Raw Black Metal,
Atmospheric Black Metal,
Crisis points that pass. 3.5/5.0
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