Saturday, July 27, 2013

Autolatry - Native [2013]

Even after so many stupendous releases, new artists continue to expand their retinues upon US and progressive black metal, and it pleases me greatly to discover acts that can masterfully convert the eerie, swooning delicacy of USBM into a progressive account. Autolatry is something of a novelty to me, having them exhumed them from a superfluity of releases last year, when their self-released EP ''Of The Land'' came out, and I was fairly intrigued and certainly taken by the young Connecticut five-piece, a brazen presentation of chilling, agonized black metal played and composed with surprisingly convenient professionalism. With their sophomore, Autolatry do not back down a single step from their formidable professionalism that was so prevalent on the EP, and now cast a wider net with a brilliant intake of numerous influence ranging from European progressive, to USBM, to even jazz, and after a couple of spins which failed to quench my desire to take in more, I was more than impressed, but dazzled by the quality of the music I heard, and without a shadow of a doubt, ''Native'' is bound to go down as one of 2013's best records, maybe even the very best.

I don't know what urged the quintet to so voraciously continue to explore the breadths and intricacies of their sound; perhaps they were not quite as content with ''Of The Land'' that they saw an excellent output as their only consolation and salvation from the miseries of having released a ''bad'' album, but I was frankly very pleased with the EP, so if that was a tasty bacon ''Native'' has to be a fucking triple griller with mustard and barbecue sauce leaking out of its crusty granular exterior, so damn delicious that you simply can't have enough of it. The ambiguous praise aside, ''Native'' truly deserves countless accolades. You can't the influence of 21st century Enslaved on Autolatry, because it's probably the most prominent, visible attribution of the record, with stipples of Borknagar and Klabautamann, but that's obviously not say the only thing these guys have achieved is to process the aforementioned bands' music through little differentiation. Autolatry, from the moment the album initiates with the perilous ''Colony'', sprays the listener with agony, mourn and grief. It's just incredible. Graceful, swerving and discordant guitars delivering a galvanizing burden of torture and lament - and what's more is that this isn't merely as inaudible as some acts out there who cream their production with obnoxious fuzz and batter the listener with relentless excursions of primal second wave black metal. ''Native'' definitely has roots deep in Norway, but the overall sound is indubitably modern and more obsessed with newer acts, and that distinction compels me even more, really.

The riffs are perhaps not too extraordinary, but you can't deny them their doleful complexity, nor the technical prowess of the guitarists Dave Kaminsky and Joe Makuch, who sometimes even project psychedelic tremolos intertwined with steady, stoic drumming. I do admit that there a few rare moments where the dissonant arrangements banter the listener for a little too long, especially when the vocals are no where to be seen, but the rest is blissful, proficient streams of melancholy, and certain chorus sequences I found so memorable that I had to hum them all day in my head to keep myself from going insane. Autolatry's technical capabilities are admirably efficient, but their real strength lies in the way they collect all the solemn, miserable waves of emotion of the steady verse sections, coagulate all the liquid mood, and all of a sudden tauten the rope by gushing with a bombard of mourn, which I found to be best executed on ''Pale Dishonor'', when the cleaner vocals kick in, shortly followed by an almost apocalyptic breakdown, all hell breaking fucking loose, as if the walls around you collapsed  after failing to withstand the sheer, stark ray of shearing pain. The vocals, are your rather basic USBM vocals, but they don't detract the quality at all, they simply keep the record afloat, piercing snares which echo through the Necrophagist-esque guitar structures, fluctuating the listener into a hypnotic plateau of originality.

''Setting of the Sun'' is a great piece, a gorgeous acoustic medley, with soothing saxophone leads, swirling around the acoustic guitar passages, and a totally alien track in the album had it not been for the same production level and the same sense of emotional stillness that the rest of the harsher music conveyed and contained. The band usually assists the broader tremolo and chord sequences with beautiful, jazzy solos that mutter delight with every note, simply more material for them to prove their durability and proficiency. Autolatry may not be the most inventive black metal to come by in the last few years, but they certainly exceed a good many in that department, playing with feeling as well as skill, and their lyrical focus in interesting too, although they're not obsessed with trees and lakes, they just use it as a compass to guide their musical inclinations, and the cover is one of the most colorful ones I've seen all year (trust me, I've seen some really good covers this year). There were, undoubtedly, some flaws on ''Native'', like the recurring usage of certain chords and the distilled quality of the verses which, as said, lasted more than they should have, but if they can spike them up with some musical quips and embellishments, they can come of without a dent with their third album. In the end, though, ''Native'' is spot fucking on, making me ripple with excitement and agony every time I listen to it. Don't miss this.

Pale Dishonor
Waning Moon
Setting of the Sun

Rating: 92%

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