Black metal outfit Aevangelist actively defies comprehension. Their creations exist on a plane of sonic nihilism and dark dada. Every note, every instrument, every gurgling growl and hideous shriek, is texturally equal, creating a vacuum of depraved noise that’s truly unprecedented, defying all expectations of recorded vibration. On its fourth full-length, Enthrall to the Void of Bliss, it’s as if Aevangelist sought to defy its own humanity by creating an album so demented, so dissonant, and so brutal that it couldn’t have been made by humans, but rather trans-dimensional soundscapists set on breaking the very idea of what a song can be.
Rarely does music so instantly and totally affront the listener. Even by the standards of black metal, a genre unafraid to dabble in the weird and weirder, Enthrall lives in a harsh and unearthly world all its own. “Arcanæ Manifestia” opens the album with an entangled arrangement of standard instrumentation (blast beats, sludgy speed guitar) and a variety of other, unorthodox tonalities not easily identifiable. Emanating from the right channel comes a demented harp; played haphazardly, it stops, starts, and stutters, sometimes (but not always) falling in with the chord progression, an independent force separate from the other instruments. It is the most discernable and memorable aspect of Enthrall because the harp never leaves, instead haunting the right speaker for the duration of the record.
Meanwhile, vocalist Ascaris uses his throat in unhealthy ways. At the end of the first track, he holds a single guttural note for a minute straight in an impressive feat of circular breathing. On “Emanation”, he channels a man whose esophagus is being ripped out. You hear the gasping for air, the hacks and hurls, and the wet slosh of his vocal cords straining to maintain this sickening putridity. It’s slightly comical, but mostly terrifying. Ascaris even sings on occasion, his distant croon sounding like a cross between Martin Gore and the whispering wind on a strange winter night. The outlier here, “Alchemy”, with its deep electro pulse and airy atmosphere, helps to stagger the record’s repetition. “Souls like water, souls like water,” Ascaris sings. For a moment, Aevangelist offer a reprieve. Then it’s back to the brutality.
Melodies and typical song structures are introduced throughout the album before being quickly buried under chaos. The songs beg to be discerned: Once you acclimate to the layers of noise and overdubs (the percussion is stacked to cacophonous levels), peculiar details peer out. At their root level, “Cloister of the Temple of Death” and “Gatekeepers Scroll” are chord-based guitar songs with verses and solos. However, the dense recordings are full of intricacies in the guitarwork and vocals that are otherwise disguised in the fray. Multi-instrumentalist Matron Thorn is the master behind this orchestrated madness. His tasteful harmonic guitar licks, notably on “Cloister” and lengthy closer “Meditation of Transcendental Evil”, can only be picked up by a keen ear.
Enthrall to the Void of Bliss is perhaps best approached like a noise record. It doesn’t offer hooks, its riffs are lost in murk, and the morbid non sequitur lyrics are rarely discernible. The experience is in the totality of the sonic chaos and the act of making sense of it. In this way, Aevangelist are black metal impressionists. This is not a pleasant album to listen to in the traditional sense; yet, it remains endlessly affecting.
Essential Tracks: “Arcanæ Manifestia”, “Meditation of Transcendental Evil”