Zifir – Demoniac Ethics (2020)REVIEW

Possessed and in fear of the exorcist, the demoniac would naturally call away their tormentor just as the drunken or deranged would bark at the piously insistent dragging them off their filth. That the intoxicating emanations of the legion within would be cruelly yanked from their gloriously baleful symbioses is a crime of performative holy war theater, a fabled accomplishment of a fictive sorcerer meant to frighten the unbeliever away from personal freedoms. What ‘miracle’ is this twisted mystic witchery that’d see a man voided of free will, and their daimon forced to inherit the bodies of swine with suicidal results? They who “sit among the graves” and sleep within their ancestral tombs, dining on the noxious broth of the abominably tusked, reign louder today as the antiquity of religion bursts in the rotten veins of generations governed by fear of the unknown. As the fog clears, the compounding irreligious magia of İzmir, Turkey based black metal band Zifir is no more lucid in form, yet a choking grey whirl of brimstone beset by the harrowing moan of their winds. Independent, defiant, and nigh ritualistic in atmosphere this fourth album, ‘Demoniac Ethics’, cast aspersions of blasphemic atmospheric art without constraint in sight of world’s end.

Noisome and do-it-yourself from the start, Zifir have yet to inspire journalists to extrapolate their finer philosophical inner workings due to the relatively palpable and normative set of influences in terms of their first three records. Some posit depressive black metal origins for the early years of the band, who’d formed in 2006, and this is perhaps due to the bedroom level recordings prior to the more polished split with Cult of Erinyes (2013). Introspection, spiritual training, and refined capture lead Zifir down a divergent path that few saw in 2017 with the release of their third full-length (‘Kingdom of Nothingness‘) where Satanic thought, true nihilism, and anti-religious fervor were more clearly presented through a thoughtfully atmospheric divergence from their ‘Under a Funeral Moon’-laced sensibilities. I’d personally heard shades of Urfaust alongside those early Norwegian black metal influences and though the album didn’t floor me, they were certainly not as plain as some suggested. Beyond any stylistic analysis it might’ve been more important to sense their core message, which was not blandly irreligious but intently focused on derailing the collective ignorance of man by way of harassment of several religions, not just the ones that are ‘safe’ to malign. In expanding the chasmic revelation that new techniques brought to ‘Kingdom of Nothingness’ with greater seething anger, true detestation boils from the mouth of Zifir on ‘Demoniac Ethics’ making for an atmospheric ‘classic’ black metal sound with remarkable clarity of intent.

A coughing fit of raw black metal structures and menacing atmospheric black metal pacing find the wavelength of ‘Demoniac Ethics’ manifesting as a frighteningly mutated harmonious growl as I reflect upon the full listen. Doubly hypnotic and reaching for screaming extremity within mid-paced, chamber-filling incantations the sheer darkness of Zifir‘s sinfully monastic atmospheric blackened aberrations is not an ‘easy’ or vastly memorable experience. There is little to hum or slap your foot down along with, even within the most compelling (early) Oranssi Pazuzu-esque beats of “Spirit of Goats” there comes no sense of pleasure or zealous revelry in this project’s expression. What should read as stark-raving coldness instead burns within the chest, a leaden vapor from the otherworld that’d seep into the lung as poisonous dread. Chanted vocal performances on Side A (see: “Still Reigning”, “Chants for Execution”) are a grand expansion of techniques explored on ‘Kingdom of Nothingness’, that further nurture that feeling of dread; Haunting thier fiery carved hollow with voices of apathy and diabolic vengeance at once. Still, Zifir are at their best jogging out the mid-paced and raw early second wave black metal that’d inspired them first and foremost so, the power of ‘Demoniac Ethics’ lies in tracks like “Ephemeral Idols” and the slightly more adventurous “Empire of Worms” that rest heavily in said realm.

The only drawback to this iterative expansion of Zifir‘s practiced and primed techniques beyond 2013 comes with the stale air created by an uneven ordering of songs on this particular tracklist. All of the power comes on Side B whereas some of the more interesting patternation comes on Side A, this makes for a ramp upward towards “Insects as Messengers” that doesn’t fully deliver upon the momentum created by the rest of Side B. Depending on your own constitution in the face of raw but moderately balanced black metal production values, ‘Demoniac Ethics’ might be slightly abrasive a rendering for its 42 minute length. I was on the fence in this case as I’d end up turning down the volume during longer immersive listening sessions and eventually decided to break up those sessions, only listening once per day. However valuable such a stress test is to your long term value assessment, it shouldn’t bother anyone with ears well-seasoned by a lifetime of crackling black metal mid-range. A headache here and there is too easily prone to confounding variables, so I intend no intense devaluation. The enthusiasm for my recommendation comes from the material itself and this despite some smaller gripes with the ‘classic’ fluidity of the listening experience as well has the ‘sticking points’ of the songwriting. With these minor considerations allowed for, I can give moderately high recommendation of Zifir‘s fourth album.

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Artist Zifir
Type Full-length
Released January 24, 2020
BUY & LISTEN on Duplicate Records’ Bandcamp! Follow Zifir on Facebook
Genre Black Metal

Moderately high recommendation. 3.75/5.0

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