Skáphe is a black metal duo made up of American Alex Poole of Chaos Moon, and Icelander DG of Misþyrming, Naðra and〇 fame. Even with that kind of a record under their belt, one just isn’t prepared for the intensity of Skáphe². Chaotic and dissonant, it feels like a truly hellish listen from start to finish, a psychonautic journey to the Lovecraftian depths of R’lyeh. It’s an astonishing album that even manages to surpass the other great works by DG’s other groups and is sure to be one of the metal highlights of 2016.
Skáphe² contains 6 untitled tracks, but it’s a complete album of hellish black metal that needs to be absorbed in one listen, with proceedings kicked off with a huge wall of sound. The mammoth bass sound rumbles with a volcanic intensity, combining with blastbeats to create a frighteningly pummeling low end, while the psychedelic wash created by the guitars is the stuff of nightmares. High pitched angular riffs constantly change tempo and structure, meandering away down strange non-Euclidean labyrinths with an echoey reverb and a level of dissonance thrust at the listener with such an intensity it threatens to devastate your psyche. The guitar sound is fantastic, either in their part in creating churning wall of sound, or the high pitched twangs jut angularly and psychedelically outward from it in the crazed manner of Cthulhu thrashing his tentacles. Moments of respite are short, when the wall of sound lets up to show there’s a very real structure behind the chaotic noise Skáphe produce with eerie bass riffs and slow, deranged lead guitar. The vocals match this frenetic atmosphere perfectly, otherworldly demonic shrieks, screeches and howls often sounding like neither beast nor man. If there’s any lyrics behind them then they’re completely incomprehensible, which is just as well, because they could scarcely write anything as frightening as the music.
While the chaotic atmosphere is maintained throughout the album’s length, it’s a very varied release, with constant temporal and textural fluctuations. The album is nigh on perfect, but one can point to certain highlights including the almost hypnotic churning wall of sound at the end of I, the thrashy intensity to the drums at the beginning of II, the eerie industrial overtones of IV, or the ritualistic exotic melodies that pervade through at points of V and VI. It’s an insane journey and you’re never sure which avenue you’re going to be taken down next.
Overall, Skáphe² is a completely immersive piece of innovative black metal. Dragging you down into a psychedelic headtrip, Skáphe give you the sense that your body is being clawed apart by demons in the fourth dimensional void. Black metal that can create such a chaotic yet psychedelic and eerie atmosphere doesn’t come about often, and this is the best project DG has worked on to date, and should rightly cause a huge stir through the black metal underground when it finally drops.
Skáphe² is released on March 12th through I Voidhanger records. III and V are available to stream below: