Think of black metal hotspots and you’re first thought is hardly going to be Venezeula, but on their debut self titled album, Selbst show that they’re as dark and monstrous as any of the current bands in the European scene you could care to name. With some progressive and atmospheric touches within a dark and occult sound, they touch on a mix of both dissonance and melody without going as far in either direction as Deathspell Omega or MGLA, placing themselves somewhere in the middle with dark, haunting and well constructed black metal.
The opening track Of Solitary Ramblings starts with ringing out chords, occult, meandering leads and downtuned chunky bass, before moving into a heavy bass laden wall of sound, borderline psychedelic leads and a hazy blizzard of tremolo guitars, hammering bass drums accentuating the low end in the production. The vocals are low raspy growls rather than typical black metal screams, drawn out and cavernous in keeping with the production. The lead guitars switch through the song between melody and dissonance, as the rhythm moves back and forth between an atmsopheric haze and jagged occult riffs. The layering is perfect, and all the instruments are clear while still sounding dark and heavy. With the riffs barely repeating and the guitars constantly evolving and meandering it feels a lot less than its just shy of ten minute length as Selbst engross with their great songwriting.
There’s variation to be found on the album too, with each track standing well on its own. Visions of Mankind Suffering sees Selbst inject more drama into their writing with the melancholic leads and turgid druges through slow sections of dissonant chords, while Instrument of My Own Destruction has them settling into some more hypnotic repetitive riffs, with the leads being in more of a tremolo picking fashion and less chaotic in a more atmospheric piece accentuated with great booming vocals. Wandering Through Grief is aptly titled with some gloomy, even gothic/romantic sounding melodies in a slower dirgier piece, while the closing track Nefasto Calvario has more aggressive riffs intertwined with snaking melodies culminating in an incredible solo, while the Spanish vocals are even more savage than across the rest of the album.
Selbst have released a stunning debut, combining dark and occult black metal with smatterings of dissonance and heaps of melody, with the guitars layered perfectly in a fantastic production. With interesting and varied song writing the Venezuelans have written one of the year’s best and most original black metal albums.