Seriously, seriously dissonant and fucked up, "The Plague" is a tsunami of downtuned black metal that's granite cube dense and takes cues equally from the hypothermic majesty of early black metal legends like Immortal and Enslaved as much as it does from wrist-slitting/codeine-bleeding malcontents like Asphyx and Grief and Incantation and some gorecore greats too. Deep blacks became hazy, endless grays and angry, pulsing brown reds as windstorms of speed give way to slowly decaying stone columns of mournful ill-feeling and hopeless nausea. Pretty elephantine stuff here. Inexorable waves of hyper-dense, mournful riffing, almost lush in all the wrong ways, lashed forcefully to a truly demented vocal performance and pounding, forward march drumming - with a surfeit of "Rear Window" tension and paranoia.
Another loner/solo black metal entity fostered under the darkling wing of Moribund Cult, Greg Anderson's Necronoclast hails from the somewhat unlikely locale of Scotland (well, Absu wore kilts for awhile...) but nonetheless shows a penchant for soundtracks of self-harm which go a long way (along with Xasthur and Glorio Belli) in proving that black metal is now a decentralized, hydra-like phenomenon detached from any need for geographic authenticity. Despite a fairly evident low-fi recording quality the fucking album ends up sounding powerful and stygian as fuck just because of the intensity given in the vocal performance and the ingenuity used in arranging these songs. Seven, sprawling tracks of resonant, thorny funeral doom that has more than a few nods to early really evil death metal, and, of course, standing inside a ringing church bell. And it just feels genuinely skin-crawling and dirty and socially fucked.
As a huge bonus, Necronoclast have come up with what sounds to my wizened ears like a completely new vocal style for black metal - a really disturbing method peformance - it sounds like he's either singing through a deep gash in his throat, burbling with blood or his mouth is being split open by fanglike tusks jutting through the cheecks and displacing the jawbone. We heartily approve.
- Matthew Moyer