With fear of an entire circle of futuristic high-art black metal artists would be rendered homeless with the shuttering of Fallen Empire the last six months have been a proverbial funeral march in examining the bursts of limited releases from the label’s final burners. Because those releases had been abrupt and multitudinous so quick was my glance that several corners remain yet shadowed. The deepest, most unsettling horror draws from the ‘Vængför’ a mid-December release documenting sporadic works of Icelandic and North American avant-garde black metal circles under the name Guðveiki. That yet under-championed work is just one of many projects to feature artist H.V. Lyngdal who’d never been a puritanical solo artist outside of a pristine run of Wormlust releases. ‘The Feral Wisdom’ was an apex, a complete seizure of a mind’s contents deserving of a thousand examinations and since it’s release H.V. has, as previously stated, pursued collaborative projects such as admirable session work for Negativa or the four country spanning Martröð. That project, along with other overlapping circles surely served as an additional impetus beyond Guðveiki in the collaboration of Wormlust and Skáphe today. Thanks to the continuation of Mystískaos beyond Fallen Empire‘s life cycle we are gifted cosmic horror as only these three truly experimental black metal artists could provide with two movements of mind-flaying deletion in the form of ‘Kosmískur Hryllingur’.
Without scholia in the margins to extrapolate any meaning the entirety of this two sided abyssic, and ultimately psychedelic, experience might hold is lost in the moment. The name of the album makes its atmospheric intentions clear but it wasn’t entirely necessary as the full listen is clarity enough; A twisted stretch of impossibly layered horror psychedelia is appreciably dark in the hands of these oft-experimental black metal musicians. The mark of Skáphe picks up where they’d left off in 2017 with ‘Untitled’ and their song “VII”, an extended vision that’d been their most ruinous and layered at that junction. Between A. Poole‘s guitar presence in Guðveiki. and very recent examination of D.G.‘s Misþyrming in hand, I see both personalities alight within ‘Kosmískur Hryllingur’, particularly on the sixteen minute opening half, “Þeógónía”. Their work is dense, collapsing, inconceivably performed as if pulled from a lifetime of motions and improvised atop brisk and damning session drumming from current Véhémence drummer Thomas Leitner. The harrowing bent that concludes this track feels as if a glitch in the mind, a monstrous epileptic harangue of noise rock and deep-space black metal. It takes another ten listens to begin to understand the structure of this but only one to feel its effects.
Horror arrives through an oceanic voice and the static resultant of friction of an unoiled machine’s parts, here as the guitars ring in majesty and the static sends each body flying against a wall a gravity persists within “Vaxvængir vonar”. What goes against the will of celestial being will surely face the cold grip of their hurlant gravitas. That is to say that this is a more palpably ‘black metal’ track albeit a psychedelic and erratic piece that never loosens the tension it provides. Here the constrictor-like qualities of Wormlust meld best with Skáphe‘s otherwise bristling dissonance for a persistent wailing descent. The gushes of psychedelia do give that sense of improvisation once more, especially around nine minutes into the 20+ minute piece. None of these pieces connect outside of the whole and to focus on any one detail will make a mush of the presence the two entities create together. Without this second piece I would’ve been suggesting this is a majority rules affair for Skáphe but I did feel H.V.‘s presence once I’d sorted out my own fascination with the various layers of atmospheric excess that otherwise define the full listen. The assumption is that he’s done all of the vocals here but I believe there to be some variance throughout several points otherwise it’d be a session rather than a collaboration.
The thrill of sating the curiosity of a collaboration between these artists is almost as value-generative as the experience itself and I don’t necessarily mean that as a back-handed compliment. The expectations created by nepotism and infatuation with their respective recent works creates a bit of a trigger when picking up this bloody neon geist-adorned piece with screaming skulls and layers of webbed insanity. The result is a complex and nauseating full listen that is pure disarray that would slowly melt into focus. That is to say that all expectations were met beautifully and the psychosis of ‘Kosmískur Hryllingur’ managed to paddle on beyond those first impressions into a well of ruthless anxiety and stomach-churning psychotropic values. Could I bask in that toxic glow forever? No, and I felt myself growing red in the face and dizzied between the eyes after any extended session of listening. There is no rest, no place to sit and dwell, and this separates the experience from say, Oranssi Pazuzu who’d use space rock tropes to escape from disarray or furor. There the theme of cosmic horror is most complete in realizing there is no respite or escape when you’ve been bold enough to wander where you will never belong. Highly recommended. I’d normally suggest a preview track but the nature of this release is such that you must listen to its entirety to understand what it is and that may take several listens depending on how prepared you are for the collision of these circles.
Herlúðrar hljómandi úr kosmískum fjarska. 4.0/5.0
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