Tentacles of Whorror
f you’re looking for analogues to how the Black Metal scene in the United States is regarded in the world community, try French hip-hop on for size. While there are pockets of richness, the overall effect that USBM has had on the world at large has been painfully minimal. Chalk it up to derivativeness. The Norwegians do it better, harder and first and, as such, everything that’s come after it has had to live up to those standards. And, with few exceptions (Xasthur, Draugar and Crebain come immediately to mind), they haven’t been met.
And then came Wrest. The man behind this full-sounding mess of a record, Wrest has led, along with the aforementioned three groups, a relative renaissance of Black Metal in the United States of late. Last year’s The Tenth Sub Level of Suicide heralded his entrance onto the wider consciousness of most metal fans, amid a preceding host of underground releases. It was, to put it mildly, a game changer, even despite its obvious debts to Burzum.
But hey, EVERYONE has to answer to Burzum in the Black Metal pantheon. And because of this, the elements that differed (the nearly infectious melodies, the singularly tortured vocals and the groove that is ever-present) made it stand all the more amid a whole host of pretenders.
The question that had to be on everyone’s mind, though, was the follow-up. Would Wrest go even further out? Or would he continue to hone the perfected formula he had painstakingly staked out on The Tenth Sub Level of Suicide? The answer is a little bit of both.
“What Fresh Hell”, for example, immediately cleanses your listening palate with an enormous blast of incredible drumming and saw-tooth guitars, leading eventually to a placid middle portion that almost lulls you to sleep before the main theme returns and pummels you back into your chair. And after this, “Heir to the Noose of Ghoul” follows in the same pattern, but veers more closely to the melodic side of things in its slow(er) guitars and distorto-vocals.
But it’s tracks like “A Neccesary Mutilation”, a four-minute ambient squall of disturbing textures,“Vexed and Vomit Hexed”, a tender dirge that settles into a monotonous groove that begs you to tune out before unleashing a torrent of sound, or even “The History of Rape”, an eight minute trudge through Hell, that steal the show away from some of the more obvious and crowd-pleasing material.
And it’s these type of tracks from which Wrest is making his leaps from the Norwegian underground towards a newer and more exciting Black Metal. Along with the aforementioned American compatriots, Wrest is one of the few artists sketching a way out for Black Metal artists stuck in the continuum started by Burzum and others. As such, it’s one of the best times to be a metal fan in recent memory. A time when genres are being torn down and others are being created right before our very eyes.