This album kicks you in right in the heart. That is an odd sentence to describe an album…from a Black Metal band but this is without a doubt an emotional journey. Vocalist Zachary Kerr
, after the death of his father, found some old recordings of conversations between him and his dad when he was just a little kid. The recordings are woven into the depressive atmosphere of this Black Metal assault to create something that is honest, raw, and totally human. Whereas a lot of Black Metal focuses on Satan and demonic forces, here the focus is on the demons within us all. The recordings are cute and charming, innocent sounding conversations between a boy and his dad but the music and lyrics seem to depict a relationship that was as full of strain as it was of love.
The intro, the aptly titled “Transparent”
is a simple beginning but one full of hope, lost, melody, and a brave statement that you can wear your heart on your sleeve, confess your long buried emotions, and still package it in such an intense musical landscape. It flows right into the first proper track, “Disgust & Remorse, Pt. 1,”
that is a rolling landscape of intense drumming and thundering walls of sound from the guitars. It slows down a little after the two minute mark, with an ambient landscape supported by ethereal drumming while his father talks to him about what he will study in school at just age four. Afterwards, the keys blanket the landscape with ominous tones, courtesy of Zak Denham
and Samuel Hartman
. Guest musician, Cody McCoy
, provides some oppressive drumming, the double bass hammering in the emotional frustration presented in the song. “5306 Morningside,”
begins with clean guitar mixed with more recordings of his father that quickly launches into another black metal assault. The guitars are a little more riff based here, creating a dense sound of metal rather than a sonic hum. The song goes clean again with more recordings of Zachary
laughing. A child’s laugh is always a good thing but mixed in with the music, it sounds a bit unnerving, giving me the thought that not everything was perfect here. But what is perfect? None of us or our lives are. We take the many emotional burdens we endure and use that to create something raw, or at least that is the hope. The fact that a black metal band can make me write a sentence like that in an album review is a testament to this band. “Night Skies Over Nothingness,”
is a track that builds up with great tension and then explodes into a climax of groove and grief about halfway through the song. Once again the keys keep things emotional. The band never has to sacrifice metal for atmosphere, there is a constant balance to the band’s sound.“Metamorphosis,”
much like the track would suggest, is a sudden change with its melodic, almost bouncy beginning. It changes again into a more traditional black metal sound but manages to keep a slight hint of melody throughout. At 3:15 mark, thick riffs keep your head banging through the melancholy. At four and a half minutes, the song changes yet again, with a nice catchy riff and a really cool, emotional guitar solo. Chalk up another win for American Black Metal, as this a near perfect representation of how well you can do a genre that is often times trapped in its own box.