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The plateau of birdsong births the environment to which this album eventually wreaks havoc. Hear that pleasant atmosphere, that harmony with nature, every last little note from beak and blade engaging in a heart-to-heart with the air itself. Within a suspenseful, much softer electric guitar and an ever growing clamour of cymbals and other percussion delights spawn a tremor within these very grounds. Alas, foreshadowing. Then, murmurs and quiet guitars whether in clouds or voices breathe in and out in anticipation, a drum brushing along as the song assumes its frontline within post-rock. It’s an environmental melt, a reduction sauce of every last glimpse captured within this now dormant plateau, every shadowy figure seemingly spotted in the corner of each and every adventurer’s eyes. Saxophone takes the front stage as if a narration of the following events of such a doomed plateau, the parable of this particularly arable land as spoken by a travelling wordsmith worn in robes and winds. There exists greater suspense, style, and especially substance within this first act than a significant amount of popular post-rock cuts to have occupied the 2020s so far. The saxophone is growing just that little bit quieter, despite its dramatic retellings as every instrument, every blade of grass, every blackened cloud and seemingly reddening mist among other environmental anomalies fill in the blanks. The fangs begin showing as the nine-minute mark closes in, Dih further completing itself. It then pans down to show the horror, the unimaginable and spellbinding cosmic monolith lurking beneath these weary yet peaceful grasslands; and you could swear its eyes have just blinked to life, a blinding light emanating from each of its many hideous pupils. It lays, assuming a foetal position whilst buried in a mountain of dirt, waiting to unveil its unspeakable machinations once again onto this poor and defenseless world. That’s how you open up an album.

With Koža, it’s already too late. A cello signalling pure menace almost floats this incalculable horror to the surface as its chants further develop into its own inimitable insanity, every other instrument partaking upon a frantic reaction, concocting their own respective panic attacks as they too can only bear witness to whatever the fuck is going on. Then this joint collapses in on itself, an orgy of cymbals being its only possible panacea. We’ve already taken care of that panic, now what about this massive, tentacle spectacle of a decrepit eldritch monstrosity ready to rain terror, the likes of which have only been addressed in the most dilapidated of paganisms? Throughout this tinker and continuous clink, this galloping and brood, what can be devised?

Oh, please. You see that ol’ hut where such a remedy was being concocted? Already got crushed by this monster’s many feet, the screams of its few residents playing over and over as they get stuck within a loop, revisiting their final milliseconds over and over again, without a single loss of agony in each crush of the bone, each impalement, each rather important artery struck. The instrumental pounds and pounds and pounds, collapsing and redefining everything within this universe, creating a bubble that behaves as if it’s an entirely different dimension, entirely new laws of anti-physics being composed to this unnamed atrocity’s whims. The drums, the sax cacophony, the guitars that tower over the listener like an oil platform in an empty ocean, and a continuous drilling that never lets up, it couldn’t be better engineered. This is Manfred Schoof’s wildest and wettest dreams, and Zorn’s most despicable nightmares coming to a hilariously harmonious fruition. This entire song is nothing short of a mere glimpse of this anything-but-sacred beast, this lost collage of hell’s most unpopular, and still remains an impressive monument, a Parthenon of modern avant-garde metal. It’s all in the emphasis, it’s all in that special storytelling.

Slepič is a mere alarm, a cry of urgency communicated to all of the neighbouring villages, towns and, unfortunately, fledgling kingdoms within the vicinity of this unimaginable savage, this black hole with a million carnival legs. Through all of its panic, it grows lost in noise, losing signal, as if this Messier matriarch is inching closer, its mere presence enough to choke the pigeons of olde and sever the power lines of today. And fuck, that descent into noise is nothing short of satisfying. Potential catharsis can be extracted from this particular madness. Not even Komara has touched this particular nook of avant-metal, free-jazz and lost noise.

Kri begins as if we are thrown right into the core of the chaos, of this vacuum field of the world. Dying breaths, faint but easily felt footsteps of this newly awoken hellspawn from miles away, atmospheric tensions the likes of which you could butcher for consumption. Choking on thick air, the stench of unrecognizable corpses, as if the victims of tidal forces. It all slowly overwhelms the listener, the saxophone coming into view, likely the very cry of this horrible entity. As things feel as if they’re collapsing, you look up. The creature wasn’t miles away. One of its blackened, interdimensional appendages tower over you, staring down at you, ready to crush you. You already feel a bizarre gravity having its way with your head, you feel your skull cracking, your head being pressed down. Creaks and clamours and internal panics season the piece like salt, pepper, and blood. Drums are entering the mix, and you realize that this eccentric leg, this cosmic conundrum, it shows not one sign of slowing. You feel the pressure on your head further strengthen, your mere psyche put through stress, even your soul given hell. You’re making that effort to fight back, likely an instinctual move when you try weighing up any intelligent reason as to try resisting the nigh-infinite strength of this horror. The intensity grows, seconds feel like the lifespan of a galaxy, your body heating up. You look down in the midst of this stress. You seem a bit taller than usual, don’t you?

Torn apart by gravity. Spaghettification. There’s not a single trace of evidence left of your existence. Every drop of ink you’ve left onto paper vanished, leaving blank sheets. Every mentioning of your name has utterly disappeared, your fingerprints and dead skin cells roaming old rooms alongside its other dust companions, virtually vanquished. Nobody can remember you, all of their memories regarding you gone. You’ve made like Trotsky and left empty spaces in all pictures that captured your physical form. There is no afterlife on the other side, no deity to even brush shoulders with. Not even nothingness itself. Not even darkness, or the mere notion of ever having existed, to have ever been. All of those other unrecognizable corpses, all of their slushy selves. Was that the monster’s idea of mercy, or cruelty? What would this fate of yours qualify as? It all no longer matters. You have never even had those thoughts in the first place. You didn’t even have the privilege to yourself, for crying out loud. In the distance of the scene, through the voice of a wailing saxophone faint in the background, cries in horror a traveling wordsmith. From their view, you froze where you were. Your body transformed more and more crimson, before fading into nothing. Watching it happen felt like millions of years, maybe because that’s exactly what it was. Within that wail of horror, comes a different form of dread: “Am I next?” they cry.

Križ opens up without a single care to give, the monster now having shed all pretenses and now shining as its true, hideous, ever so fucked up self. The saxophone wails, the death rattles of this poor wordsmith as it is inevitably destroyed by the gravity of this forsaken anti-being. Everything rattles in tandem as the wordsmith is torn apart. But this creature just marches along. The music now assumes something entirely different, the core of this very horror. The likely destination of whoever is unfortunate enough to be consumed by it. It crashes like a barrier of continuously resounding thunder strikes, this dimensional bubble only expanding, its rules further contorting outside of human understanding as villages are hopelessly ripped to shreds and consumed.

Guitar noise and oddball percussion continue the conundrum, this time showing the perspective of those humans at the surface, the shambles of their villages, the gravel grating against their unconscious selves as they further decay away, coughs of survivors indicating they won’t be survivors for long. They too are approached closer by this galaxy-bending goliath before facing their own incomprehensible fates as mere statistics in this gaia’s eyes. This being is no deity. No god could ever stoop to this level of pure desecration and spacetime violation. This grimy, gravitational giant crawled out of the slimy undertows of impurity, excrement, antimatter, all the omniversal residues and vengeances. It knows no emotions, rather an objective the likes of which only it can understand. All of the musical crunch, all of the frenetic implosion and self-demolition and eventual nothingness within its wake, it all plummets into the ground past every last body, impaling with ease and crushing heads as if they were mere foam. The pounding menace of it all, the incalculable sludge, the equation of horror, it has rarely been so intense, so dissonant, so motherfucking tremendous. It never lets up, it refuses to complete itself, it is a series of stellar (both cosmic and in quality) explosions facing inevitable gravitational collapse.

Jezik is the last pseudo-bastion of this album. Once again, we’re in the center. Not as you, though. This time, we’re in the true aftermath of all of its wake. This time, we face only the black skies, depleted atmosphere, and cold dusty world from which a prophecy has awoken and succeeded. No prophetic hero in sight, no band of adventurers brandished with the power of light and friendship at their multiple holsters. All of it is the essence of planetary decay, as if we have forwarded in time far into the future of the universe to where this planet’s mere particles are threatening to disintegrate away into empty space. But as the wordsmith witnessed millions of years before him, perhaps that really was the case. This album seems to accomplish something very similar: time flies by much quicker than you think.

The horror’s work is done. It roams elsewhere, its now accomplished self hurtling towards this planetary system’s star. Its fate is uncertain, whether it is consumed by the incredulous embers of this system’s sun, or if the star is merely the next meal on its devilish, neverending plate. This album. This fucker killed everyone on Earth. The only moments of reprieve, where the cause for being overwhelmed lies in joy, exist within the first few minutes. After which, an event horizon is reached. The vocals work perfectly to the album’s ability, to this newly interpreted vision its sound brings. Virtually each instrument does so in an utmost appropriate manner, their places cemented properly, never sounding sore within the production’s semantics. Despite the undisputable experimentation the likes of which have only been studied within the most rundown laboratories of metal (within the spaces where minds like Zorn, Neptunian Maximalism, and Murmuüre sought success and very well got it), it feels, without the shadow of a doubt, completely natural for the type of album at hand, and especially for the apocalypse that it rains upon the listener. Even those precious silences further build to that overarching sensation in the back of your head that something is deeply wrong and you are keen on letting it show how deeply wrong it is. It may very well become a clause that metal and jazz were made for each other, just as much as the inevitable evolution between classical and metal and their undying compatibility. The third stream even addressed that jazz and classical combination and eventual wed. What a cutesy triad. But avant-garde metal meeting with avant-garde jazz? The results speak for themselves at this point. Minds of avant-jazz like Alan Silva, Manfred Schoof and Heiner Goebbels would very likely be proud of this work and the wild territories to which jazz has been unveiled to thanks to its interbreeding with metal, regardless on whether or not they served as an influence to this album or several others. If you made it to the bottom, you better listen to this album as soon as you can. I experience very little doubt in this likely becoming one of the very best albums of 2023 and of this decade when the year is done.

Score: 8/10.

Trajectory of listens past the first: positive.

Written 3/6/2022, 6:41 - 7:57 PM.


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