Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Spektr - Cypher 
As much as I love groups like Bastard Sapling, who can instantly rumble into nostalgic, atmospheric haze, groups that seem as if they were bred from acts such as Blut Aus Nord, or Deathspell Omega have a special, assorted appeal to me. France's Spektr is no outsider to the aesthetics of Reverence, CCSABA and the like; in fact, they have over a decade of professionalism behind them along with two more albums at their belts, making them one of the more preferable acts in the recent surge of industrialized ambient black metal manifestations, and certainly one of the more inventive ones too, forming a strident, dissonant balance between your standard drowning black metal tremolo waves and Godflesh, all the while bringing forth a wealth of ambient sound tracks that literally form about half the album. You can already guess what sort of disturbances you're to encounter on your 45 minute journey, a nightmarish apocalypse of discordance pulsing against your ears, lost in a pitch-black gorge.
Alright, I'll admit, despite incorporating such a mass of influences from acknowledged connoisseurs of discordant mourn and turbulence, Spektr are hardly at their tumultuous paramount. The ambient passages and samples that excessively adorn the record are certainly amazing exhibitions of modern macabre, but the riffs themselves are mostly bathed in chock loads of reverb, chorus flange, tape echo and phaser, which lead down to the same dissonant pathway, and they don't particularly feel inaccessible, and actually quite entertaining considering their basis is a simple Norwegian inflection from the mid 90's. The lack of vocals also provide with a mysterious, ominous overtone here, and to be fair all the instruments are an equally important part of the gear-system, and the record itself should be regarded as a gestalt, too, not simultaneous clash of subterranean clangor. While I enjoyed the majority of the ebbing tremolo barrages, the haunting feel of the guitars which sometime took trudging, droning heights in pace and the band's tendency of spontaneity, inserting samples and riffs completely at random and thus creating an aerial complex of capriciousness, I can't deny that the band did an excellent job in building up a dozen of blood-curdling ambient samples.
Only, the number of samples butting into the actual material actually cut off a lot of the real action taking place. Sure, going by their book, moments of such harrowing drudge is only common, but I felt the Frenchman were spending too much time building up for climaxes for the riffs when they should have spent some more time engrossing the substance and not the decoration. The title track, despite being the longest remains my favorite, so filled with captivation that the band at some point gave into straightforward, semi-industrial black/thrash attacks, and there were even moments when samples and riffs coexisted, leading to the ultimate, obfuscated assembly that I believe that band tried so hard to achieve throughout. I think I might have heard a few gaseous gnarls along the way, though they could have been just pieces of the samples, but still, the band could have accomplished even more if they stuffed in a few dreary growls here and there. ''Cypher'' still remains a prehensile album, a homage to modern Blut Aus Nord, CCSABA and Godflesh, and certainly a very strong album in its own rights. You won't be entirely engrossed, I can assure you that, but more than a couple of spins won't prove to be very healthy for your sanity, either.