ADAGANas Ruínas do Ser (2022)REVIEW

Demoralized and impoverished paralysis. — The dregs of the human spirit most often appear to the folk artist as direct bridge to the numinous honesty of their existence, a dark and eager to disrobe truth of the piling-up ‘self’ which merely needs the release of acknowledgement to go on persisting without actualization. The essentialist perspective of black metal applied to slow, sombre post-modernist electric folk dirges which appear from the hands of Portuguese artist Adaga could be easily mistaken as kitsch modus, ironic deconstruction of the tenets of black metal anti-sound yet the reality appears to be a matter of representing the lowest state of being, the pit of the artist’s own making and the protestation of any effort to dig, crawl, or climb out. In this sense ‘Nas Ruínas do Ser‘ wants to relate, directing their flow of miserable and depressive strands of self-flagellation in void of many things (any empowering sense of heavy metal being the key item) while refusing to introduce or acknowledge any such intimacy. It is an album of piteous mystery, a lost and damned sort of wandering away from a plane of pure introspective dread wherein the legs refuse to move, or be moved beyond their humility.

Per a complete void of information the listener must make the surprisingly profound choice of viewing Adaga as a solo project, not only for the sake of the shared aptitude of these innate rhythms being somewhat obvious but for the sake of the solitary theme and spatial design of the record itself. It is meant to read as lonesome, entrenched, and distantly suffering. Edged on the bouts of depressive rock introspection and the nauseation of sweaty black metal drumming the musician is just barely competent, not a pro holding back for effect but a multi-talent in development juggling practical concerns rather than stylized shaping. There is emerging confidence in the steady progressions they present, a very clear but dimmed coloration by design which yet reveals every stumble, flaw, and out of place note. A character is built just as a child is, through mewling and stumbling. To some this will read as a trait of bedroom black metal phenom at present, to me it simply reads as the influence of indie rock and post-rock on lo-fi black metal. There is precedence for this sort of feeling in self-sentimental and depressive traditions of experimental black metal, but the term “metal” is entirely irrelevant to ‘Nas Ruínas do Ser‘ when it is viewed beyond aesthetics and its lyrical prose.

At most three guitars exist in tight company, two clean channels and one distorted, with a drummer at least an half-auditorium’s length away in the distance. The two clean channels harmonize in their arpeggiation with one providing rhythm and the other a ringing lead voice while the distorted guitar simply provides exaggeration of rhythm for theatric effect relative to dark metal (in the “former gothic death/doom” tradition). The spatial relationship between the instruments is important, submitted to the aethyr in a cynical bald-naked sort of eye contact wherein the sound design almost exclusively creates a tunnel between the torment of the guitarist/vocalist and the listener, all things reverberate in disintegration outside of this cone but the innards of the experience are simple chord progressions. Relayed in occasionally broken arpeggio and the croaking torment of the vocals flat expressions of strife follow the shape of the melody implied by ethereal progressions, the apex of this minimalist rock theater being “Nas Ruínas do Ser – Pt II” as the ring of the electric guitar becomes uneasy backgrounded buzz beneath the droning-on progression of the song. I won’t attempt to make an argument for this modus for the sake of it being obviously ugly, yet intentionally beautiful beyond the charred skin it presents. It certainly won’t appeal to folks who aren’t already accustomed to nowadays depressive lo-fi black metal experiments, dark folk, dark metal, and modern rock rhythmic ears.

We reach a point beyond the steady head-spinning sense of frustration conjured within ‘Nas Ruínas do Ser‘ wherein there is no certain way to tell (unless you speak Portuguese) whether the afflicted is attempting to console themselves, or, to ease the silence of their piteous self-dissolution in relation to others. The protagonist remains unable to relate, and relate to, as the listener becomes similarly mired in this disadvantageous perspective. The outcome is indeterminate, a soul’s fragmentation acknowledged and certainly not repaired, but all of this is floundering on my part as there is in fact an ending yet it comes with yet another simple guitar progression, the same monotonous technique for a few more minutes.

There was no truly interesting place to land with this experiment for my own taste beyond whatever feeling or inkling it’d brought in the moment, in this sense Adaga continue to fascinate me for how they’ve created this stark and floaty setting for whatever it conveys once the listener looks beyond the bare sound design and plainest guitar work. If struggling through ‘Nas Ruínas do Ser‘ alongside the artist is a major point of purpose then, I suppose it did manage to be a captivating showing of alienation and ingenuity. Yet when I sit and task myself with giving a recommendation to the general public, well, it is a particularly lonely niche which may very well appreciate in value with iteration and expansion. As is, a moderate recommendation to the more open-minded and seasoned black metal listener who appreciates an uncalculated outsider perspective and does not require the instant gratification of typified conformity.

Moderate recommendation. (70/100)

Rating: 7 out of 10.
TITLE:Das Ru​í​nas do Ser
LABEL(S):Altare Productions
RELEASE DATE:October 14th, 2022

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