Decline of the I – Johannes (Review)

Decline of the I - JohannesThis is the fourth album from French post-black metallers Decline of the I.

After enjoying 2015’s Rebellion and 2018’s Escape, when Johannes appeared I knew I had to sample its dark wares. Armed with a new lineup formed around the band’s core artist, Johannes is a 51-minute journey into thoughtful mood-driven darkness.

These new songs are layered explorations of post-blackened detail and nuanced soundscapes. The music is multifaceted and textured, drawing in a range of influences to build on the band’s black metal foundations. The five songs on Johannes are each masters of their own creation, while still fitting into the whole, and provide the listener with a creative and rich landscape to explore.

Each song boasts a lot of content, with a wealth of good ideas and enriching sounds ably showcased by the band. There’s an epic streak to Decline of the I’s music, more apparent than ever in their latest work. Sometimes it’s hidden in plain sight, while at others it ascends to malevolent prominence. Either way, a certain amount of majestic grandeur is ever-present in the music, and it works very well indeed.

The band’s ability to blend sharp aggression with menacing atmosphere is very effective. I really like the use of guitars on this release. Some of of the riffs and blackened rhythms feel like they cut to the core, and combined with the skilful and inventive use of melodies, contribute to the thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying musical experience that these five songs offer. Lighter moments appear, balancing the blackened heaviness of the distorted sections. Existing somewhere between post-rock, jazz, and experimental atmospheric ambient minimalism, these parts may not be too common, but they add value to the songs.

Piercing screams are joined by darker growls and choral accents. The singers all do a great job, and, like the music, the vocals are very accomplished.

Despite how much I enjoyed both Rebellion and Escape, I think that Johannes is probably Decline of the I’s richest, most complete and well-realised work to date.

Very highly recommended.

Decline of the I – Escape (Review)

Decline of the IDecline of the I are a French post-black metal band and this is their third album.

I very much enjoyed 2015’s Rebellion, but now it’s time to turn our focus to Escape, which brings us 55 minutes of new material. Continue reading “Decline of the I – Escape (Review)”

Animus Mortis – Testimonia (Review)

Animus MortisAnimus Mortis are a Chilean Black Metal band and this is their second album.

This is an intriguing blend of Progressive and Post-Black Metal that lasts 40 minutes and makes a very good impression. It’s Black Metal for the modern age, taking influence from the aforementioned sub-genres to add to their Blackened pot, creating something unusual.

This sits nicely alongside albums from bands like Entropia, Thaw, Outre, Hope Drone, Tempel, Decline of the I, Wayfarer, Deafheaven and many others that play Black Metal with a non-standard spin on things. Bands such as these take up the mantle of Post-Black Metal, (willingly or not), to expand their musical horizons and add to their Blackened palette.

Chants, screams, growls and all manner of other vocalisations are used to great effect to provide a rich vocal performance. These are multifaceted and varied, allowing the singer ample avenues for exploration and experimentation. Wailing, shrieking and moaning torment appear to be his choicest methods of delivery; these are frequently layered on top of each other to create a nightmarish juxtaposition against the more resplendent music. I imagine it could be somewhat of an acquired taste for some people when confronted with his style, maybe rather preferring the more standard screams that appear less often.

The music is highly emotive and has an understated epic feel to it. It has a heart that’s twisted and warped though, kind of like Deathspell Omega with added Shoegaze. The music can be quite beautiful, with uplifting sections as well as parts that are more barbed and dangerous. The vocals supply the main ugliness and horror to the music, with the singer frequently sounding inhuman or possessed, adding a disturbing aura to the songs.

This is a compelling release due to the fact that it attempts to do something a little different from the norm and largely succeeds. The ubiquitous blast beats, the gleaming guitar melodies and the corrupted vocalisations all merge together to produce something greater than the sum of its parts.

This is music to become entranced by. Let Animus Mortis lift you up and help you explore the less-travelled paths that they wander. It may seem a daunting proposition, but it’s one that’s worth it.

Decline of the I – Rebellion (Review)

Decline of the IThis is the second album by Post-Black Metal band Decline of the I.

Rebellion is an interesting and sometimes eclectic mix of the rabid and the beautiful.

A lot of time and energy must have gone into this album in order to give it so much depth and texture. Every song has a lot going on and the compositions reflect the restrained chaos that’s encapsulated here.

Brutal Blackened mayhem is artfully weaved into the overall structure of a wider musical framework that encompasses a multifaceted palette. Fragile and expansive Post-Metal guitar melodies flail against pure Blackened spite in a battle for supremacy. It’s impressive how the various feelings and emotions play off each other yet always manage to retain a cohesiveness despite the warring elements.

Vocal contributions come from three members and as such the vocals are as varied and eclectic as the music itself. Horror-fuelled screams and atypical verbalisations give the impression of a warped insanity lurking deep at the heart of the music. The music itself does nothing to dispel this of course, being a product of demented genius in its own right.

Much like Decline of the I themselves; Post-Black Metal is a very interesting and rich subgenre and Rebellion ticks all of the boxes for why this is so. It manages to pull off everything from atmosphere to barbaric savagery, sometimes simultaneously.

A very impressive album and a big achievement.

With albums like this to start the year with 2015 is looking very bright indeed.