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Lurker of Chalice - Tellurian Slaked Furnace Award winner

Lurker of Chalice
Tellurian Slaked Furnace
by Chris Hawkins at 05 February 2020, 2:55 PM

Art is ubiquitous within the lives and cultures of homo sapiens throughout the ages evidenced by the cave paintings found in France, in Lascaux specifically, up to 20,000 years old.  Yet its meaning and appreciation vary like the shifting of cultural sands never ceasing their serpentine quest.  When quixotically attempting to mine down the pertinent details to preface this collection of material released by LURKER OF CHALICE, my thoughts landed together on a memory, an interview I’d done over fifteen years ago with the noise-piercing luminary, Steve Austin of TODAY IS THE DAY.  In responding to my question of how far one has to go into the darkness, he maintained the effectiveness of isolation and venturing into the unknown certainly feeling pain along the way, and converting that injury, physical or mental, into something of creativity.

We agreed that yes, one must confront the darkness in order to see any kind of light.  When I listen to any of Jeff Whitehead’s (Wrest) material, I receive a similar painfully, honest, viscerally real treatment as from classic TODAY IS THE DAY material despite the wide chasm between their sonic realms (which actually isn’t as massive as genre/category-obsessed media folk could have one believe).  It is a similar approach, the influence of SWANS heavily within both LEVIATHAN and his more experimental outfit, LURKER OF CHALICE.  “Tellurian Slaked Furnace” contains a dozen songs that were essentially demos but are cleaned up in the studio and arranged smartly with a steady ebb and flow.

Wrest is a lifer.  Along with acts like KRIEG, JUDAS ISCARIOT, and NACTHMYSTIUM, he helped refine U.S. Black Metal.  After twenty-two years now, his unique approach to songwriting crafted a personal, stylized nice within the genre.  While the music of LEVIATHAN is raging with vitriol and contempt for humanity, LURKER OF CHALICE is a more spiritual journey with the songs cinematically relaying the tale of an astral journey or even one piercing deep within the psyche.  While the mysteries behind the songs abound, it is a solid listening experience and one I’ve now had over a dozen times.  Like a drug, it can mold the entire atmosphere forming one’s experience.

The first track begins with a softly dark acoustic that sets the mood with a cymbal crash being the only rhythm-keeper.  Overall, an antiquated, ritualistic air is felt though it is an unknown invocation with strange effects that mirror language yet remain a mystery.  The following track is the first introduction of distorted guitars and procession-style drumming.  A mantra-like phrase is repeated with various screams and versions of melody.   Of note is the bass for whether it is a four string or a synth track, its methodical, deliberate pulse is the most dedicated source of melody.

The fourth track is an example of one of the tracks here that could be classified more as a soundscape that what one thinks of as a “song”.  An atmosphere of discovery, searching for what was lost along the ocean of time is carefully crafted and embellished with varying sample garbled under a jumbled disguise, their role now being one of dressing for audio.  It is with the eighth track that the first hint of Black Metal is felt by way of a loose, pseudo-tremolo picking section and steady double bass.  As the song progresses, though, the two guitars meld into and out of each other leaving their tremolo beginning and blossoming into single-note progressions.  The contrast between thick guitar tracks and the overdriven synth bass provides the most interesting framework of the track occasionally punctuated by the long howl of a wolf.  The last track is certainly the most dramatic.  Beginning with an ominous timpani pattern, distorted guitar is introduced by way of a dual-harmonized minor key riff.  It is an oppressive Doom motif, one that shines a light on the imaginary line dividing the genres.

Production-wise, the album features a dynamic sound, full and open while retaining the organic.  For demo recordings, there was certainly quite a bit of effort put in to make them sound clean and polished.  Mostly, one gets the feeling of listening less to a Black Metal album and more to an intriguing soundtrack with the way the songs flow together.

Ultimately, the audience for this album is potentially as wide as imagination.  With the way tastes have formed over the years, it may surprise many just how varied this album really is.  Hopefully, it is just a taste of more to come from Mr. Whitehead, be it as LEVIATHAN or LURKER OF CHALICE, for his creativity, as further evidenced by the album’s cover art, truly knows no bounds.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. I
2. II
3. III
4. IV
5. V
6. VI
7. VII
9. IX
10. X
11. XI
12. XII
Wrest – Everything
Record Label: Nuclear War Now! Productions


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Edited 20 September 2020

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