Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sanctus Daemoneon - The unaVOIDable (2010)

Having missed this unusual Danish acts debut Grey Metropolis two years ago, I had absolutely no idea what to expect from its followup, but there it was, sitting in my mailbox and calling out to me with the odd capitalization of its title and a rather striking image of smoke stacks and dense smogs, the band's rather minimal logo pinned in between in beautiful symmetry. Judging by the cover art, the title of this and their previous album, I was fully expecting to be struck by some harsh industrial black metal act, but was very surprised that Sanctus Daemoneon do not only avoid this mold, but they avoid nearly every mold you could tack upon them. I suppose the trio's aesthetic core would place them somewhere at a crossroads of depressive, minimal black metal, light use of ambient electronics and Gothic/shoegazer elements, but to actually hear the band in motion is quite evocative and unique.

The unaVOIDable is dispersed across 10 tracks in 47 minutes, each of which is title only by a Roman numeral. Thus, it is pretty clear that the best digestion of the product is taken as a whole, though not so exclusive that you couldn't split it into its components and appreciate them within the economy of the modern work & family life, though I'd keep this band away from your family, because feelings of confusion, depression and utter nihilism are bound to form upon the brow of any listener to these Danish gloomnauts. A standard 'night out' here includes a simple drum selection, programmed, while minimal waves of effected, Gothic tinged guitars and bleak, sparse electronics manifest alongside the grisly poetry of the frontman Corso. It's both an experience of calm and one of dire morbidity, as the lyrics and samples are positively negative. Often, as in the track "IV", the band will let a heavier face bleed through, and in these spaces they remind me slightly of the amazing Austrian band Summoning, but instead of mountains and monoliths of a fantasy setting, Sanctus Daemoneon channels the urban and decaying shadows of our own civilization's underbelly, our 'trade off' and toxic 'run off' for globalist expansion.

Trust me when I tell you that this is one hypnotic experience that becomes more difficult to escape the further in you travel. Particular favorites were the flowing, sewage-tribalism of "V", Corso's vocals evoking nightmares across the scintillation of atmospherics and jaded guitar twinge; "VII" feels like the makings of a calm, progressive ballad concentric within minimal circles, patiently transitioning shrill background noises to the fore while the vocals play like a rusted razor upon an uncertain wrist. Something like "IX" would be more accessible and almost funky like globes of blood dripping from said wrist to a rusted shower grate in masturbatory bliss, and the closer "X" sounds like an awkward Robert Smith moment, if Robert Smith forgot to clear his throat and became the grimmest motherfucker ever, letting his tea kettle whistle for a few seconds and then playing the most drawn out, 80s minimalist approximation of his main band, soon to be discarded when jokingly sacrificed to the record label.

If ANY of these descriptions made any sense to you, then you must immediately acquire this album and lose yourself in its wholly unintended charms, because you simply do not hear its like every day. The lyrics are also usually decent, though the subjects are predictable. Could this sophomore be better? Yes. Often the riffs evoke nothing more than a submissive atmosphere for which the vocals can coil about your spine, and the shrill tweaking sounds range from annoying to ravishing. This is best absorbed all at once, because the individual tracks do not express a wealth of variation. They're primarily slow and absolved to their fate, and you find yourself pining for some breath of differential, which does arrive in the form of a sample or new synth tone to keep you strung along, but I'd love to hear what this band could do in a more dynamic range. That being said, The unaVOIDable should indeed be unavoidable if you desire a sound that starts with extreme metal, cuts out most of the aggressive, harsh guitars and then goes caving in the yawning chasms of the soul, a last hour of decision on whether this world is worth it, or you'll take your chances with the next. As the band reminds us in their bio, 'Life is worth leaving', and the music certainly reflects this notion.

Verdict: Win [8.25/10] (the night no longer young)

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