Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Trinacria - Travel Now Journey Infinitely (2008)

Whether you view Travel Now Journey Infinitely as an entirely new prospect with a (now uncertain) future, or just a repository for the more unhinged ideas of its Enslaved members, Trinacria is one of those curious one-offs that I frankly don't hear enough of coming from one of my favorite metal scenes. Part of that is because a lot of its longstanding forerunners (Ulver, Arcturus, Dodhseimsgard, even Burzum) are themselves extremely bizarre and show no signs of wearing down; unapologetic in smudging their roots with all manner of bewildering, risky ideas. But there's not really another act of the litter, to my knowledge, that sounds quite like this strange collaboration between Ivar, Grutle, Ice Dale and a number of other Norwegian musicians hailing from lesser known acts. Travel Now Journey Infinitely might lack for the superior songwriting of its progenitors, but this is certainly an album, given enough space for the listener's immersion, which I've found myself occasionally returning to through the years, if for little more than just to see if I can fill in any more pieces in the puzzle of its very existence.

The album is usually described as 'black metal', and to an extent you'll have that in the raspier vocal presence and the fuzzier riffs redolent of post-imprisonment Burzum and others who use dissonant, earthen tones to flay bare the roots of that subgenre. But there's also a heavy whiff of the rugged blackened thrash which fed itself into that medium to begin with, coupled with loads of feedback, noises both acoustic and electronic, and a more tribal, steady style of drumming which is felt most in the more repetitive, pensive cuts like opener "Turn-Away" where the guy is pounding away a steady rock beat and loads of drum-circle like toms beneath a droning, minimalistic guitar line and all manner of creepy whispers and glitchy noises which persist even through some of the deepest of Grutle's torn barks that I've encountered. Granted, this is one of the loosest 'structured' tunes when it comes to the variety of riffing...others like "The Silence" and "Make No Mistake" are more bloodthirsty beatings, but I'd almost say that the six cuts of the record are pretty evenly divided between the more familiar, to reel in the metal crowd which followed Enslaved up to that point, and the experimental, which is usually manifest in longer, more mellow and atmospheric compositions.

Examples of the latter include "Breach", another droning, tense piece smothered in thundering and tribal percussion, prog-punk or dissonant DC-hardcore style guitars that work exceedingly well with Grutle's growls and all the echoed, manic whispers and scummy electronic whirrs that permeate the record's strange sort of postmodern darkness. Or "Endless Roads" with its cleaner, muted guitars and distant noises which inevitably transform into these lush guitar passages over which the vocals are almost like a hypnotic spoken word style. Though there is a female vocalist here, her voice itself is really saved up for the titular finale, a more grandiose epic in which she hovers around Grutle like some angelic, ethereal shadow; for the rest of the record she is contributing other scratchy screeches, noises, keys and effects. But that one song is just so mesmerizing, as it shifts between paradigms of soothing seriousness and batshit spasms redolent of earlier portions of the album. Possibly the one tune here that might have been 'worthy' of an actual Enslaved record in the past decade, had they chosen to include it there.

Trinacria is indeed pretty compelling, not so much as the main band, yet enough that I kind of hoped they wouldn't give this project up entirely. As far as I can tell its fate is currently a coin toss, but I just find the music intriguing and unpredictable enough that I would love to follow its course straight into the unknown, and could easily see them reigning alongside avant-garde Norse champs like Virus and Ulver. The production is excellent; every little detatched sound rich enough without drowning the guitars or drums. Grutle is in fine form, in fact I'd make an unpopular argument that his harsh vocals here are the equal or better of any particular Enslaved album, even though the riffs and the song construction itself seems more free-form and lacks the same balance of style and impact you will find in the more proggy records these guys are up to. I've just developed such a level of admiration and trust for these musicians that I feel like they cannot fail me, in any capacity; I will likely never tire of what they vomit out my speakers, and this is further evidence.

Verdict: Win [8.25/10] (nourished through new blood)


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