Craveth thou thy fix of black metal but art thou somewhat sick of silly and unintelligent “satanist” lyrics and/or that crappy AAA batteries powered amp cheap far-more-than-underground production, or maybe even that ultrafancy-ass overtriggered so-modern newmillenia sound of no-dynamics? And, of course, the classic basics are not the same after all the years, and yes, still waiting for Snorre to finish the next Thorns album?
Welcome, then. I may have what you crave. But also, don’t leave yet because this is not another Transylvanian Hunger but just with good production (well, it was really good).
Alfa Obscura is a one-man black metal band (hey! come back here! I’m not finished!) with actually much to offer to both the public and the scene. The contribution, stated shortly, consists of turning the black metal screw tighter without breaking the machine. How’d you do that? Fine, I’ll explain my shit, let’s start knowing who this one man is.
You may know Bjeima for his contributions to several norwegian bands, most recently for his session bass playing on Virus’ last album The Agent that Shapes the Desert or his drumming in The Konsortium (two examples that show this man knows how to properly play everything), but he has worked on/contributed to an array of bands lately: Ghost Conspiracy, Swarms, M (aka Taarenes Vaar), Konstriktor and Delirium Bound (maybe more), and some more in the past, where I’d mention Rex. But then there’s the special mention to his other one-man band, Yurei.
Well, Alfa Obscura does sound a bit like Yurei but this is somewhat more conventional, if conventionalism has any place in this text. Yurei was rather undescribable and quite unmetal if you ask me, but some hints of it and the moodshifting are still here. Add that to a base of early black metal influenced modern black metal, kind of what Thorns did in their full length or Dødheimsgard have done since Satanic Art but lower-speed, with also some theatricalism borrowed from Ved Buens Ende added to the recipe. Of course I must say that the result doesn’t resemble any of those bands but just winks at them in any case.
Anyway what makes Plutonian Shores really great is not the technique or the style itself, neither the rather unproduced production which sounds surprisingly clear and modern without losing dynamics or sounding remotely weak (this is how black metal should have been sounding 2005 onwards, in my opinion). Not either the on-the-spot execution of Bjeima’s guitars, bass (oh, the lines – refer to Intense Departure for a perfect example, mid-tempo break part), drums or the only-occassional keys/samples. Not even the wicked clean and more often unclean vocals which feature a wide range of different severe madnesses.
This album is great by its songs, which are memorable songs. The riffs that you will want to whistle to on an evening of walking out the dog in the rain and cold, despite their introspectiveness. Songs that stick to the mind and leave their mark as if they were fire, proof of that is that this has become my main (or almost) go-to album when in need of a black metal fix, for quite some months now. Melodies that take the black metal essence to some other place still unknown, despite the common ground shared with other, well known, more avant-garde, acts. And on the originallity and border breaking part, the undeniable sense of being listening to a new decrepitude, sickness, madness, autistic rage and wicked states of mind that were never before explored in this musical context. Yeah, black metal could have felt weird, enjoying the evilness and hatefulness back in the day, but this speaks of something way different, at least the message I get is just like that. And it’s quite weird to enjoy in this manner these madnesses as if they were my own. Of course, not all songs are (entirely) that way, but that doesn’t make those more straight up ones like Den Siste Reise less good.
01. Waves From The Plutonian Shores