Temple of Torturous

One of the more unlikely breeding grounds for black metal, the Pacific Northwest is providing fertile territory for misanthropy. Wolves In The Throne Room is at the head of the pack, but Portland noisemongers Echtra are making their own powerful and reflective noise. Paragate is not an album that will amp anyone up into committing blasphemies in thrall to the Dark One; instead this album is steeped in the lush, green forests that make up so much of Oregon, shrouded in primeval majesty. Echtra’s music — perhaps subconsciously — draws upon a deep pool of musical history that includes black metal navel gazers like Xasthurs and I Shalt Become, Gothic shoegazers like Lycia, the ambience of Brian Eno, minimalist music like Steve Reich, and the lost children of folk like John Fahey and Pentangle. The album is divided into two long, slowly shifting movements that demand patience and meditative attention from the listener. “Paragate I” is built around a simple, slowly repeating acoustic guitar figure that sounds like the opening notes of a Red House Painters song, full of melancholic gravity, clashing against serpentine overloaded eldritch guitar noise, and occasional bursts of thunderous percussion. The combination is deft, and the ghostly voices at the end? Man. All of the languor and fell calm of the first part is dispensed within “Paragate II,” where beautiful atmospherics (ten minutes worth) calmly build towards a cold and cathartic burst of black metal, swirling tumult and strangulated screams, trance-like in focus. But even that decays into a long, haunting coda. Worth the time it takes to decode their strange language.

Temple Of Torturous:

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