9th December 2016 – Code666
Releasing top-drawer black metal in December seems equally a snazzy marketing trick and an excellent creative decision. With a biting winter rounding off a gruelling year nothing would please me more than a really solid new black metal release to ruminate over whilst I commute, grumpily. Thanks to Terra, I’ve got exactly this.
“Two track album” immediately sets the band up as on the artsier side of black metal, but they’re not on the Alcest/Downfall of Gaia/Deafheaven end of the spectrum; rather, they’re forward-thinking, heavily textured but straight-up black metal, with some sludge flourishes. There’s also a tendency towards drone in their approach to atmosphere, particularly with regards to the fluidity of their long tracks and the dirge-y outro to “Apotheosis“.
Both “Apotheosis” and “Nadir” unfold gradually; their approach to space feels completely appropriate, allowing songs to expand into their respective vessels. Sticking to fairly regular black metal tropes allows the tracks to hit hypnotic notes that other bands try so hard to achieve but often fall short. The 20-minute length of each is fairly exhausting to listen to, but the gradual progression of ideas means there’s a certain logic to follow; the record really is immersive and rewarding, even if it feels initially daunting.
Aside from their re-imagining, there’s a lot of modern black metal ferocity; over the years a lot of the genre has borrowed caustic ferocity from hardcore and sludge. This is evident here; Terra may have some typical influences but there’s a clear modernity to how their ideas are presented. Although they flirt with drone they use this to augment and texture their onslaught as opposed to, say, Bong, whose variations are glacial; infinitesimal. I was especially pleased to hear a forward-thinking black metal band not changing pace throughout a record; this makes variation a little hard but does allow the caustic ferocity to be maintained throughout the record.
It may be too late for you to adjust your top ten lists but this really is a gem. With so much good artsy black metal in 2016 it’s cool to see people play with conventions in an altogether different way, to bring more out of the abrasive, aggressive side of the genre. Longtime black metal fans will find this refreshing and familiar; all the beloved hypnotic elements, just enough risk and few of the daft tropes.