High On Fire
Lille Vega, Copenhagen, DEN - 22/11
Written by: PP on 01/08/2010 22:35:54
According to their own Myspace page, St Petersburg, Russia's Psilocybe Larvae like to define themselves as a "manic depressive band", a statement you'll find is quite accurate as you explore through their maze of different styles and genres of metal that are presented to you on their new album "Non-Existence". It's easy to mistake them for being yet another black metal band at first, as the album opens with tremolo shredding and your typical shriek-vocalist, but it soon develops to something much more special. "Non-Existence" isn't a record you can pigeonhole into one genre, because the record is an experience itself, one that unfolds slowly into something magnificent and beautiful if you allow it. It's a record of varying moods, where the band specializes in switching between polar opposite feelings and atmospheres with such skill and class that one can only stand in awe-inspiration of the amount of detail unfolding as each song goes forward.
Take one listen to "Sleepwalkers", for instance, and pay close attention to how the song opens with astonishingly beautiful contrast of soft flute-like keyboard and pure melancholia with blackened riffing and morbid atmospheres. The melodic tremolo arrives shortly after, and the vocal style begins to vary from shrieking to growling to just deep singing, even clean vocals in places, taking the listener on a journey through vast valleys of beauty, this without sacrificing any of the black/death metal elements dubbed within their music. You really need to hear it to understand it. An almost magical ambiance is then created through a quiet lull section towards the end of the track, where the distortion drops completely from the guitars, and a classical piano softens the atmosphere even more, like a calm before the storm....which arrives in the form of piercing guitars and serpentine-style death metal riffing on "Let The Flame". All of a sudden, it's a blackened death metal sort of mood you're thrown into, with whisperous vocals purposefully pushed to the background to allow the guitar lead the listener on an acidic trip through the Psilocybe Larvae universe. Rapid-fire chainsaw riffs straight after with some brutal growling, and more of the painstakingly beautiful melody that's full of sorrow follows soon after. In places, it feels like the omnipresent melancholia of Opeth's balladic albums, and elsewhere you're thrown into near-symphonic black metal world - only without the symphony, just melodic riffs instead. Indeed an album that requires more than a ton of listens before its magnificence begins to unveil itself to the listener.
Now I could go further, and mention tracks like "Cold Desert of Eternity" or "Great Silence", both of which utilize some of the same elements as described above but in a different way to create more saddened moods contrasting angry, haunted ones among others. But there's only so much you can understand from just reading the words on your screen, as opposed to actually getting a pair of excellent headphones and traversing the band's sound universe yourself. If there ever was an album that can be classified as an experience, then "Non-Existence" is a good nominee for that title. Beautiful melodies, guys.
Download: Sleepwalkers, Non-Existent World
For the fans of: Opeth in more of a black metal format
Release date 14.12.2009
Dark Harvest Records