The deepest echoes of dissonant blackened death metal noise initially appears to hold as much value and sensible structure as an autopsy performed in the dark. It is a squishy, aimless wrestle with muck that becomes profoundly horrific the longer you’ve spent working at it. The artform resembles a total collapse, and booted stomp, of hard rock music’s core values for the sake of surface level, esoteric extreme metal free-jazz. It begs for chemical additives to the point of psychosis and resembles a hallucinating teenager’s ability to focus and achieve musical statement. Drug abuse, experimental noise, post-traumatic stress disorder, ancient mathcore, and a love for the primally relentless clatter of extreme metal all feed into making sense of the unincorporated sub-sect of blackened death metal that bands like Seattle, Washington’s Hissing elevate to performative art rock levels of extremist blur.
‘Permanent Destitution’ is the result of four years of toying with riff, rhythm, and furious noise in the hopes of making ruin of death music as we know it thus far. The apex of this journey was assuredly a split with underrated blackened noise gods Sutekh Hexen as Hissing‘s turn provided atmospherics and groove that topped earlier releases and began to approach the cerebral tribally dissolving ventures of Chaos Echœs. ‘Permanent Destitution’ realizes this latest conceptual peak and makes thrilling, molten mud of any listener willing to venture into Hissing‘s abominable churning. What then, do these tormented soulless pacific north-westerners bring beyond the innovations of the past? An alluring subtlety that has died off as this style of extreme metal has become more popular goes a long way to differentiate Hissing as an experience.
Although ‘Permanent Destitution’ fits snugly in between the frantic heft of Chaos Echœs post-‘Transient’ experimental uplift, the ‘feel’ and tone of the record has just as much in common with Knelt Rote‘s grindcore-informed blackened death rhythms. As much as it makes sense to cite ‘modern’ examples of avant-dissonant or experimental noise twisted black metal like Skáphe, the true roots of influence here lie squarely in the realm of Portal‘s ‘Outre’. The major divergence here is in subtlety rather than the hammered post-Immolation aggression of early Portal; Hissing expresses less like a stream of brutality and more like a fog machine pouring through a battery of fans, filling space in response to variable pressurization and tempo. Within the deepest rhythmic pocket ‘Permanent Destitution’ is almost too gorgeously resonant and it seems that harsh noise and (seemingly) directionless blasting is employed just often enough to avoid resembling purely atmospheric avant-garde death metal.
Without pronounced riff and/or rock soling to sustain the lizard brain’s programmed desire for even-metered musical statement the value of a band like Hissing equals that of the curious appreciation of twelve-tone composers and the potential for dissonance within that general methodology. That isn’t to say they’ve employed or are informed by that level of composition but the effect is largely the same but extruded through mildly obscured mid-paced blackened death metal. There is a strong mixture of anxiety and bounding, powerful statement to be found within ‘Permanent Destitution’ but with nuance so subtle and fleeting in ever-forward moving pieces the mind of the average listener will be more focused on the sensation of the moment and later whatever mental summation of the experience they can manage. At no point did I feel gored or awestruck by Hissing, in fact the full listen was never unsettling or drastic and this lead to several more listens simply because I wasn’t able to grasp the album’s entirety and feel strongly about it either way.
An album that thrives simply on its seemingly endless salad bar of transitions and subtle mood-shifting is a valuable experience in the moment to be sure; Were Hissing to take more chances with their sound and further experiment with production values I think they might hit upon something truly different because they have a certainty to their madness that is absolutely compelling. If nothing else they’ve captured the suffocating live experience of the band on an impressive level and it makes for a natural, easy listen to an otherwise moderately challenging flow-based listening experience. I can moderately recommend ‘Permanent Destitution’ and primarily to folks who thirst for tasteful avenues of skronk and slippery, smokey atmospheric death metal guitar music. I don’t recommend previewing this album in pieces at all, it is arranged for effect in an particular order that is entirely seamless when listened to in full.
Frozen then demolished. 3.75/5.0
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