Monday, May 5, 2008

Brown Jenkins

Moribun Cult

Brown Jenkins, a most unusual moniker for a black metal outfit (though it's a Lovecraft reference, chump, so the pedigree is in order), is an Austin-based solo experiment, far removed from what your preconceptions of the genre if you've only seen pictures of vintage Emperor and/or listen to sounds coming from the chilly North. However, if you've been following the furtive movements of a quietly growing horde of black metal boundary pushers located within the borders of our own U.S.S., "Dagonite" is yet another promising document of a scene that, paradoxically, doesn't exist because of its very isolatino and decentralized nature.

Brown Jenkins offers up five dirgy tracks of transendent, ugly, grim metallic sludge with only minimal vocal and percussive adornments - usually consisting of occasional bestial roars that seem to urge on the thick, humid waves of plodding/soaring heaviness, and Obituary-esque growls and a slow, driving drumbeat. All are executed ably by guitarist and conceptualist Umesh, who sheds band members much like Brown Jenkins has shed all distractions from the almost thuggishly precise metal pounding that forms the darkstar core of "Dagonite."

Brown Jenkins steers well clear of the tenets of black metal as usually practiced by various Cultists and instead heads straight for the gutter, face down in a pool of blood, piss and cheap wine. An enormous dense guitar sound is the central focus of the album - just monolithic fuzztone hatred - as reminiscent of the Melvins and Mudhoney as it is Spacemen 3, Grief, Merzbow, Bathory, Neu (there's that Krautrock essence that I have been detecting whiffs of in recent listens to newer black metal) and the snakelike riffs that John Christ wrenched forth for the first Danzig record, which is, of course, indirectly indebted to masters of the low-down sinister blues like Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside. A fucking genius lineage, all told. Umesh seems to occasionally pause, mid-riffing, just to hear the harsh hum of the guitar strings ring and ring. "Dagonite" while at first a concept album based on HP Lovecraft's story "The Shadow Over Innsmouth," shifted away from that concept (retaining only the song titles) and in the end became a poison pen love letter to the dark bludgeoning beauty that can be found within the oppressive guitar textures of black metal - and in the midst of isolating and amplifying them, to the exclusion of most other elementts of the "song" - Brown Jenkins has discovered a new darkness, for now, all his own.

- Matthew Moyer

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