To set foot within slippery loam and atop sighing carpets of rainforest moss alike provides the sensation of rooting with the land long proven unnecessary for human existence. Yet, with some educated sanity it remains entirely necessary for a sense of the viable human animal. Primate evolution naturally sets our most instinctual thriving state, a proscribed sense of safety, within the forests of the world. Though they continue to shelter and feed the rats of men with their riches, for eons now even the eldest ancient trees can scarcely remember a mankind not compelled to manifest destiny and shit-eating greed. To sit with a tree as a feigned druid in modern times and be transfixed by its presence, feel its living embodiment of power and strength, is to understand its importance to the true identity of man. Such arboreal gods long for worship for too-short lifetimes before they crisp in this now burning hell on Earth perpetuated by their slaughter. All beings known, to what men among swine are left to keep track, increasingly choke on the ashes of the systematic death of trees. With a lost spirituality still-hidden within our DNA men huddle in boxes built from the corpses of their deities lurching in pits stewing over dark and ominous music that naturally invokes the urgent wont for the eld ways. Named for Lucifer, phosphorous, the morning star, the bringer of light, Eosphoros amplify primal call to pagan gods of nature’s wrath in attempts to reignite their human ferality through black metal rituals.
Formed as a trio in 2016 in the Portland, Oregon area the musicians involved in the creation of ‘Eosphoros’ each have several powerful extreme metal releases under their belt thus far; From the brutal death/doom mastery of Symptom (JT), the alchemical occult blackened death of Shroud of the Heretic (MK), to the electrical swamp horror of Shrine of the Serpent (AD) each member of the band brings some vital experience with atmosphere to this paganistic, epic black metal record. As though thumping underground in anticipation of their coffin birth, Eosphoros cursed the soil they were concieved within as they released the raw horror of ‘Demo MMXVI’ (2017) which features stone-ground versions of what became two of the most powerful tracks on their fully realized self-titled full-length debut. The abrupt rawness, staggering guitar tone, and nigh Cascadian drum treatment on that demo suggested something less pensive and thoughtful on the horizon. I’d begun to expect a raw, occult Vrasubatlat style release, something more visceral but in approaching this beginning a black flame lit inside as I stepped into the ethereal grime of ‘Eosphoros’.
Though I felt hints of Ash Borer in the blurry coughs and inspirational rhythms of “Promethean Fire” the track is better compared to an early Aeternus opus with some additional semblance to earlier Mgła and some riffs transcendent of even the best Grand Belial’s Key moments. This is not only a set of exceptional reference points but doesn’t necessarily begin to describe the diverse set of compositions that create the whole of ‘Eosphoros’. Abrasive and cutting into the second wave of black metal’s rotten pre-’94 edge the guitar tone is both scraping and versatile in blending elements of pagan black metal, atmospheric black metal, death metal with warmth. There is a sweetly rotten must that acts as fringes of Eosphoros‘ sound, where they could so capably grind into a death/doom pulse at any moment but never quite do; Insistent blasts of black metal act as reprisal for the restful Burzum-esque lilt of tracks like “Dross” but the true glory of the record comes with the deeper hypnosis (and riffs) of “Trance of Annihilation” a truly molten endtyme sludge incantation that crawls forward, lashing its serpentine tongue unto the end.
Because I am impudent moth to the allure of melodic black metal’s flame, particularly when abreast a pagan metal theme, “Feral Heart” is a sort of perfect capture of that interest yet rarely more intricately musical than the average early Kampfar or early Primordial releases. The melody is subtle enough to be effective without ranting, a trait I’d consider key in separating Eosphoros‘ influences from purely Scandinavian affect. Though the sound I’m describing seems rooted in early 2000’s pagan black metal excess, it feels far more ‘modern’ in composition and again, closer to the presence of Mgła or Uada. It is a modern black metal record in keeping with the organic melodicism the PNW black metal geist is prone but there is great variation along with some experimentation; The ‘noise’ track, “Solitude”, consists of wolf howls and consistently elevated and sustained chamber hits, this acts as cleansing preparation for the grand 11 minute finale of “Sylvan Apotheosis”. It resembles the finest streaming melodic blasts from Nagelfar‘s ‘Strontgorrth’ (minus the electro stuff) and with that Grand Belial’s Key sort of heavy metal thrust that I’d mentioned before.
I’d sat with ‘Eosphoros’ for maybe two nights before it had rusted away my criticisms of it and I’ve gone as far as giving it about three weeks worth of listening before mentioning it. It was unquestionably great from the third listen on. It worked out that I’d just wanted to sit with a very good black metal album in December and I let it sink in. Were the album not rhythmically expressive in a memorable way I wouldn’t bother, i.e. there are a bunch of great guitar riffs on this album and that is as much of a draw as the mid-to-fast paced Sargeist-esque black metal style of it all. Every song, even the drone-assed noise track, hits in a profound and entertaining way. Eosphoros‘ debut is a for sure inclusion in my favorite black metal records of the year, they could easily make ten more of these and still have my vote. High recommendation. If you twisted my arm I’d suggest “Feral Heart” to get elbow deep in the melodic stuff first and then the incredible drop of “Dross” and consider the final track if still not convinced.
Shadows upon soil. 4.75/5.0
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