Throne of Katarsis
Helvete – Det Iskalde Mørket
Stunning. Fearlessly venturing out to the very precipice where black metal becomes implacable, unyielding ambient music, shadowy Norwegian duo Grimnisse (vocals/guitar/bass/keyboards) and Vardav (drums), are audacious, graceful, and cathartic in their performance of Helvete.
This meditative (by way of self-punishment) album is informed by modal drones and atmospheric soundtrack music while executed with all of the brio of classic lo-fi/garage black metal acts like Darkthrone and Burzum. Atmosphere is the key word in Throne of Katarsis’ new music, each of the five tracks (with one even tipping the 17-minute mark), are pure in concentration and intent — to wrest forth a mantric darkness from the bowels of the primal black metal sound. Make no mistake, there ain’t pretty or inventive arrangements, no avante-garde philosophizin’ or trickery here, Throne of Katarsis bash it out brutally, gleefully, and sloppy as fuck, but they’re so powerful and so concentrated on letting the layers of buzzing darksound just build and build that their music takes on this ornate majesty, in spite of itself. The vocals whoosh outwards, until they’re so intimate close — a raw and needly bark and werewolf yowls — that it seems like the speakers will be lacerated. The drums are perfectly underplayed; a blind rush as necessary, war tom flourishes as necessary. The guitars, my god — tracts of solid, immovable sound, glittering harmonics all bent and cursed, thrash perfection wrapped in layer upon layer of barbed wire and raw meat. “The Darkest Path” and “Det Iskalde Mørket” are just mindblowingly impure, slowly rising in intensity like some sort of reverse hymn. Constant building and layering of simple base elements — until the result is something magnificent — similar to how the Egyptian pyramids were built. Can’t argue with those working methods, can you? Stunning.