Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bestia Arcana - To Anabainon Ek Tes Abyssu

All guns blazing is a metaphor used to describe the exciting death of tragic heroes in movies but I wouldn't consider Bestia Arcana's opening salvo to be the death throes of a band spending it's last sputtering breath devastating ears and minds with some vicious and furious black metal might. Instead, Bestia Arcana on To Anabainon ek tes Abyssu simply let loose with all the ammunition I expect young bands to have. I mean seriously, if you're not going enter the arena without a properly prepared attitude, just stay out of the way. You're not doing yourselves or anyone else a favor. While Bestia Arcana is a new project the members have some history together already, mainly with Nightbringer. I'm not too familiar with that entity but only Naas Alcameth currently resides there still with fellow Bestia Arcana troops Nox Corvus and the singularly name-shortened K. no longer being active with that band. History aside, this five song release is gnarly and Daemon Worship Productions is becoming a go-to place for some really strong black metal releases.

Opening the madness is the excellent "Cup of Babylon," a gritty, nasty beating mass of distorted fuzz and warlike thumping. It's thick and misty like a decaying body laying in a swamp amongst bullet riddled trees. Highlighting this track and the five minute "The Poison of Mannaseh" is keen use of shrill, tremolo guitar accents which arise out of nowhere and end before they settle nicely in the abdomen. It lends the demo an out of control and frightening sub-texture both auditorily and structurally. The layers of background depth - static, subtle melodies, bass thwomping, ambient surges and vocal experimentation - coat the inner mouth of listeners with the tastes and smells of a complex of endless torture chambers and masochistic residents. The release is all about this feel - hell manifested into a listening experience to revel in.

Other songs are more experimental at times. "The Pit of Sheh-ohl" starts with a long ambient mixture of pulsing drones that echo layered vocals living amidst a cake of reverberation. This last the entirety of it's eight minute length. Maybe a bit too long for some. I think the track drags maybe slightly but when "Feverwind," fades into the vista with a dramatic melody, murky drumming and pessimism reserved for elitist pundits, I am reminded of the earlier tracks and their best moments as well. It continues the slow, dragging tempo of the ambient track and hints at influence from funeral doom as much as the USBM influence on the rest of the album. The longest and final track on the release is "Shepherd of Perdition," a song which pulls together all the elements presented up to that point and jams them down your throat. Von (old) comes through in a repetitive theme overlapped throughout the song and Greek and Mediterranean bands are also in force in the guise of dense swampiness and increasingly noticeable synth backgrounds atonally layered across the decaying surface of the track. It just kind of gives out and gives up, releasing torrents of vitriol into your life.

If there is a complaint about this it would be that although all the strong points that I mention, for someone else the harsh production could be a turn off. It's not the most welcoming of productions even for black metal. Nowhere near as raw as some material out there of course but nowhere as acceptable as many of the albums which get favorably reviewed. For me, I adore the production. Additionally while this is a really sweet listen, one worth going back a few times over, Bestia Arcana aren't doing anything that isn't done by others out there. This new layered approach to black metal in an effort to create depth and atmospheres isn't new and isn't particularly innovative in anyway either. There is a genericism here which can't be argued away. It doesn't make me think less of this album though. The songs are awesome, enjoyable and exciting. The variety of material squeezed into a five track release is commendable and the flow of the release is great for a late-night session with your favorite bottle or intoxicant.

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