Skáphe – Untitled

2016’s Skáphe² was easily my favourite extreme metal album of the year. Chaotic, dissonant and psychedelic while still sounding varied, it just had everything modern black metal does so well across it’s six untitled tracks. They’ve just put out a new untitled EP containing one long track called VII, and at twenty two minutes long it’s 2/3 as long as the full length album from last year and it sees them continuing where they left off with more eerie and dissonant black metal.

It starts off with industrial sounding drums and guitar dissonance which morphs into a psychedelic wash of slow moving angular riffage, not particularly heavy but already creating a deranged atmosphere. The howled vocals are low in the mix under the guitars but they’re energetic and powerful against the dissonant guitars. Moving from a more melodic black metal riff with slight nods to Emperor, the track really hits it’s stride when they start blasting away, the vocals get angrier and more frantic, the guitars faster and more deranged, notes jutting out angularly from the wash of sound. They’re constantly shifting tempos, with the slower sections having an eerie psychedelia to it, the earthy bass plodding along with twisted rhythms, the faster parts delivering more of this strange labyrinthine guitar playing and aggressive vocals. It’s hard to even say the guitar playing even consists of riffs, hardly anything repeats itself and they just play ever evolving dissonance with tons of reverby effects. Despite that this isn’t some lo-fi experimental noisy black metal, the production is clear and you hear everything really well, the music is controlled and exceptionally well written. There’s also ambient breaks with an eerie industrial feel akin to the Cold Meat Industry records diaspora, where the metal drops away altogether and it becomes even more haunting before starting back up again. In the final two minutes it all fades away until we’re left with one massive bassy drone and strange percussion. For twenty two minutes Skáphe take the listener on a dissonant, drugged up black metal journey through caustic non-euclidean labyrinths inhabited by shadowy demons from the bowels of hell – and it’s fucking fantastic.

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