In Memoriam, Ill Omen
Australian (!) supergroup Pestilential Shadows grasps and executes perfectly the formula for solid black metal: have all instruments going as loud as possible in all different directions for that wall of hurt effect, have a vocalist who sounds like a dying consumptive in a cave, sound as unrehearsed and spontaneously rough as possible, make judicious use of thrash influences, frequently induce a trancelike state with long portions of repeating the same primal riff indefinitely, and add in just enough Angelo Badalamenti atmospheric gloom for a shimmer of moonglow on an otherwise fell and rusted sound.
In Memoriam, Ill Omen is fucking great. It actually has catchy adrenalized sections (like the forced march stomp at the beginning of “Beautiful Demise”) and top-shelf METAL riffs, in between otherwise hypnotic painmantra arrangements, only broken up by dead-of-night atmospherics, silence, and twisted-up guitar harmonics and leads. The instruments are soaked in echo and reverb for a greater sense of space, which makes them sound like they’re shuddering and bouncing off metal walls (or padded), to say nothing of the broken bell guitar solos. Blast beats are eschewed – though breakneck speed is not shied away from – for a mid-paced gallop or martial trudge, the music is more about mood hypnosis through bludgeoning shoegaze guitar waves. One of the things that really makes Pestilential Shadows stand out is their flair for creeping atmospherics and horror, the icy chill of a few lonely piano chords, a shimmering, detuned lead guitar flourish, a mantric eighth note bassline accompanied by strums that sound more like stabs, and vocal self-flagellation. When expressive ambition runs headlong into a proud lack of technical acumen, you get sublime releases like this.