Each of the three tracks on this 49-minute album is a hideous, heaving monstrosity of grim blackened sludge and malevolent drone doom. It’s deeply nasty stuff, yet not without redeeming features.
Noise-enriched black metal, post-metal, sludge, and foul doom all collide and collude on Recurring Nightmare. The result is dark music that flattens and crushes with its serrated distortion, while also occasionally giving birth to atmospheric nightmarescapes that scar and sear the mind. The songs do have a hint of melody, although this is typically as bleak as the rest of the music.
The brutally destructive elements are unhurried and devastating. It’s like watching a glacier move inexorably onwards, relentlessly overcoming any opposition to its forward momentum. Pummelling distortion and slow groove roll over everything in their path like it’s not there. This is band that know how to craft their heaviness from sheets of ice and pain.
Alongside the abrasiveness sit more atmospheric components that can be surprisingly nuanced and delicate, providing a post-metal build/release contrast to the dark horror of the harsher parts. This can sometimes give Lunar Ark the opportunity to create something startlingly beautiful. A great example of this is around the middle of Freedom Fever Dream, (where, unexpectedly, clean vocals are also used), which injects a welcome interlude of colour and hopeful light into the music, albeit briefly, before once again unleashing more Hellscapes of despair-ridden intensity. Of course, these two sides of the Lunar Ark formula are not mutually exclusive, and they mix together very well to varying degrees over the course of the record.
Of the vocals, (apart from the abovementioned cleans, which also appear during the latter half of Guillotine), these are primarily coarse acidic blackened distorted shrieks. Their venomous delivery is piercing and deadly. The singer is inhuman and demonic, and his voice is the sound of hate given form.
Recurring Nightmare is a very strong first album from Lunar Ark. Fans of filthy, underground doom sludge need to pay attention; if you’re into bands such as Body Void, Thou, Indian, Vile Creature, Bismuth, CHRCH, and Primitive Man, then this is probably a poison to your taste.
Very highly recommended.