Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Thantifaxath - Sacred White Noise [2014]

Although it's become a serious difficulty to find an apple that's not ridden with worms nowadays, it is more importantly increasingly difficult for artists to discern themselves in the metal universe. That one third, however, seems to be the front-runners of the genre, the ones carrying the torch in the darkness, and the mavericks of black metal, who, usually, despite their outstanding achievements, fail to make into major markets, constantly bested by the more fashionable and over-hyped kings of the scene. Unfortunately, the question of why we humans neglect and demean the small is a discussion for another day. The real story here is Thantifaxath. A bunch of hooded figures hailing all the way from Canada, nothing out of the regular, you'd imagine. And coincidentally, just as I was perceiving a subtle divergence in Dark Descent Records from its usual old school death metal catalog, to my delight, I found they were also bolstering these guys with their debut album - probably the most enigmatically apocalyptic concept album (if you can call it that) I've heard all year. It's noise. It's sacred. And it's white. What more can a man want? Three of some of the most favorable things in the world in one wholesome package.

That aside though, ''Sacred White Noise'' pushes itself all the way from the boundaries of mediocrity to a self-sustained crevice of its own, buried under its own unique bliss. Being from Canada, you'd expect the trio to put out a performance fit for their Quebecois counterparts, and while it's not a whole different plot from what Gris and Monarque is doing, undeniably there is a great deal of difference. Where to start? From the fantastic opener ''the Bright White Nothing at the End of the Tunnel'' with its pallid aftermath allusion, to the impossible denouement ''Lost in Static Between Worlds'', the album is such a convincing and attractive force over the fatigue of traditional black metal bands that I found it to be one the most addictive black metal opiates I've hard since 2012. What seems to be a reasonable continuation of what Deathspell Omega and Negative Plane are doing is actually so much more; a brilliant and discordant witchery of crystalline chords and restless, relentless voracity. That's probably enough to summarize any black metal outfit in the field, but Thantifaxath takes its further. The progressive elements on this record are nothing short of stifling and formidable. I could have just said that the Canadians were giving test runs on a few of the Enslaved songs from their last three records, or just fleshing out the psychedelia of Hail Spirit Noir - but no. Imagine precise technical riffing plotted out perfectly along the bantering chords, a nightmarish descent into hemlock and the long-waited afterlife...

Yet the record initial tracks are so dense with ideas that you'd be less confused and frightened at gazing into pit of spidery demons. That's not to say the latter tracks lose their lust, but after the ideas have been presented the Canadians simply outline them once again for the obfuscated listener which helps convert utter bewilderment into comprehension and appreciation. ''Sacred White Noise'' is as moody and depressive as the downtrodden child on album cover, but I would fail to do them justice by leaving it there. Here, depression turns into anger, anger into momentum, and momentum into actual quality. On top of it all, there's this almost unprecedented sense of modernity that lurks deep in the ambient cinematic effects that encircle the record at random intervals. We're not talking 80's horror flicks here, folks, but some of the most creeping, crepuscular cinematic soundtracks I've heard since Cultes Des Ghoules released its magnum opus last year, and though this album doesn't score the same level of fright as the former, with fiendish musical acumen it's the prized set of songs that would resonate through an old abandoned church. And with the intro of ''Gasping in Darkness'' it manages to do just that. In a manner, there's certainly an approval of Negative Plane's aesthetics, with seamless, oriental harmonies strewn arbitrarily, but, as said, Thantifaxath hardly fails to be an album of its own.

 Despite the clarity of the guitars and the harsh, punkish guttural lows of the vocals, ''Sacred White Noise'' is still a hard pill to swallow. It's rich, with a myriad mortal wounds engraved on it like permanent tattoos, like ash and dust on a broken piano. To be fair, I'm a bit of a hypocrite at not giving this album a go in the first place. Only after a few positive reviews on the internet did I feel actually elevated about it finding its way to my pool of promos. And even so, it didn't quite kick the first time. The second spin gave me somewhat more pleasure and understanding, compared to the mild appreciation of the first, but after the third listen the album's cavernous soundscape and dissonance had me captivated like a bug in a jar. It's absolutely terrific musical experience, your free ticket to a live orchestral cacophony, delivered by the three hooded impresarios. Though not quite the record that would be bequeathed to later generations, if you know a band can conjure anything as haunting as ''Eternally Falling'', you know you ought to get it, regardless of your futile taste.

The Bright White Nothing at the End of the Tunnel 
Gasping In Darkness
Eternally Falling
Lost in Static Between Worlds

Rating: 90%

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