As one of the most prolific solo acts in black metal, Black Cilice should need no introduction. What is needed, is a tip of the hat; an acknowledgement to the astounding achievement of keeping the content fresh (no easy task within the constraints of raw, orthodox black metal) over 25 separate demos, splits, EPs and albums across a 12-year journey.
And that’s what stands out most on the two tracks making up this latest release, Tomb Emanations: sure, it’s a style we’ve all heard before, but the delivery is done with aplomb and passion, resulting in a far more nuanced, profound musical result than you would expect from such a straightforward, lo-fi recording setup.
Tomb Emanations kicks off simply, with massive, grating chords and wails, building tension and malice in equal parts: “Returning from Dimensions Below” may never take off in the way, say, Dark Funeral pound their listeners with soaring melodies or Winterfylleth hammer home haunted nostalgia, but the slow burn and visceral grind is nevertheless an effective and engaging approach. The uncertainty, waiting for an uptempo break that is hinted at but never comes is as unsettling as it is strategic.
A powerful testament to orthodox black metal, indeed.
“Vigil of Ruins,” though, is a different story… Yes, it’s still downtempo. And it’s still more depressing than underwear for your birthday. But it’s also more rounded out, more dynamic and more reliant on the rhythm section; the percussion is simple, but structured, and drives several well-placed changes in pace and mood throughout. The mid-track breakdown (there isn’t a better, more relatable term and ‘interlude’ sounds a bit contrived) for instance, is a welcome space to breathe before the densely layered textures descend and envelop you again. Then there’s the straightforward slow strummed passage leading to the outro: you would imagine that such a simplistic rhythmic device could get old pretty quickly, but here it feels correct and well-fitted.
Raw black metal is often met with disdain for its sheer discordance and obscurity and, quite often, I find it a tiring process. Not so with Black Cilice, and the virtuosity of pacing that keeps me guessing throughout. Tomb Emanations is short and focused, like a surgical strike, only performed with rusting barbs rather than scalpels.
Tomb Emanations Track Listing:
1. Returning from Dimensions Below
2. Vigil of Ruins
Run Time: 13:33
Release Date: December 10, 2021
Record Label: Iron Bonehead Productions