Brooklyn wrecking crew Belus offer glimpse into their warped metallic world with ‘Apophenia’

During the Stanley Cup Finals this past spring, I had to wear the exact same shirt every day when the Penguins played, otherwise they’d lose. Olli Määttä No. 3 player T-shirt. I wore a different player one night because my regular shirt was not accessible, and sure enough, the Pens got waxed. You can bet the night they won’t the Cup over Nashville, I had that (very) unwashed Määttä shirt on my back.

Fact is, it meant nothing that I was wearing that shirt. It was a pattern of coincidence that I happened to have that shirt on and the team came out on top. I knew that in the back of my head, but I wasn’t about to tempt fate. it’s a phenomenon known as apophenia, and that also happens to be the name of the debut record from Brooklyn-based crushers Belus. “Apophenia” contains seven tracks that will tangle your brain, and taking on this first full recording from Belus took some time to fully absorb. There are so many tricks, twists, and turns here, that keeping up takes getting used to the terrain. The music, if you let it overtake you, might have you seeing strange patterns and visions, another form of apophenia (it’s a multi-faceted phenomenon that also is often linked to the early stages of schizophrenia), but that’s just your brain pushing you. The band—guitarist/vocalist Matt Mewton (Woe), bassist Leslie Wolf (Mortals), and drummer Jacques Johnson—have put out plenty of smaller releases during their seven-year run, but this is the first full vision we’ve gotten from the band, and it’s devastating.

“Chasm” starts the record, and it’s burly and proggy, as Johnson’s drums just go off. Gritty riffs and Mewton’s scarring growls combine, while things get even nastier, and the music begins to flood the room. The back end has more cool riffs and a black sense of creativity before fading away. “Monolith” has warmer guitars before the assault happens, as Wolf and Johnson thicken the bottom that begins pounding you. Black metal-style melodies run, while the guitars give off electricity, and the growls grind at the flesh. The song turns toward heavy demolition before heading off into space. “Avarice” bleeds into the scene, entering into a dark, black metal-style pace, as strange riffs and grisly growls amplify the violence. The track eventually gets trance-inducing and the music goes trippy, while the growls return to bring back menace, and the drums deliver death blows before the song comes to its end.

“Illusions” takes off in the fog, as guitars creep in, and the track stretches into mystical territory. The track eventually bursts, as harsh growls penetrate, the music makes you dizzy enough to clutch the wall, and a heavy dose of strangeness wafts in. The final minute is a head trip, with the melodies playing cruel games and the growls leaving gashes. “Psychosis” tears things apart, as Mewton’s growls chill the flesh, and the music floats dangerously above. Riffs cut through as the song hits demolition mode, bringing everything to a punchy end. “Omens” is a charge of suspense when it starts, as the song is slashed apart, the drums crush rock into rubble, and harsh growls jab at the ribcage. The music is boiling, giving off heat and humidity, while the band hits a trudging path later, bringing the song to a slow-driving, devastating finish. Closer “Equilibrium” is mind-bending and punishing right away, with a prog-fueled base, vocals scraping, and a heavy storm laying waste. Speedy shifts and disorienting stretches push you to the limit, while the music stings, and the guitars buzz. Finally, the melodies cascade, saturating the ground, while the song slowly slips away.

Belus’ first full-length effort is an invigorating, challenging experience, but every time I’ve delved into its flesh and organs, I’ve had a completely different experience. “Apophenia” is a damn effective first impression, another entry into underground metal that expands its reaches into new areas. It took a while to get their debut record in front of us, but now that it’s here, there’s no guessing where they’ll push into the future.

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Clouds Taste Satanic return to giant journeys on challenging opus ‘The Glitter of Infinite Hell’

Everyone is excited for the Halloween season because of the return of the beloved “Stranger Things” series. I get that. I’m one of those people, and I’m really looking forward to see where they go next, as well as what that weird red thing in the sky is. But that’s not the only beastly treat that awaits you this autumnal holiday season.

Brooklyn-based Clouds Taste Satanic are the perfect band for this time of year, and their fourth long-player “The Glitter of Infinite Hell” will land in your lap, ready to take you on a mysterious journey. The instrumental doom four-piece have been very active ever since their formation in 2013, releasing a new record every year since 2014. This new one is a beefy monster, as their followers surely expect, with four tracks stretching over a hefty 74 minutes. This harkens a bit back to their debut “To Sleep Beyond the Earth” and its mammoth two tracks, and not as much to their past two records, where the songs were more concise, so you’re going to need some time to sit back and absorb this album. But that’s well worth your time as the band—guitarists Steve Scavuzzo and Brian Bauhs, bassist Sean Bay, and drummer Greg Acampora—delivers four songs that all have their own personalities and environments, and even without words, they manage to convey a thick sense of pain and dread.

“Greed” opens the record, and it’s an 18:40 heater that starts with drone welling up before the first punches are thrown. The track has a bruising, dusty feel like you’re being dragged through the desert, and despite some sludgy moments, we’re mostly baking in the sun. Some turns remind a bit of modern-era Earth, while the riffs chew, and pace begins to stomp guts. The guitars slide as the track heads into psychedelic realms, and from there, the riffs give off heat, the pace drubs, and it all fades into the distance. “Treachery” goes 18:10, and trippy noises and thick basslines get the storm brewing. The song kicks in fully, while the playing bruises and heads into the swamps. The leads burn and bring more humidity, as the track lays in the punches slowly but heavily, and the melodies stretch into a weird haze. Out of that atmosphere comes a stomping gallop, whipping up dust and creating chaos. A heavy stoner vibe lands in the final minutes before soloing rips out, and madness compounds.

“Violence” runs 17:48, making it the shortest song on the record, and it gets punchy and aggravated right away, as muscular riffs begin flexing, and the interplay gets gritty and psychedelic. The guitar work lets off noxious smoke, the kind that makes your brain feel like it’s floating among the stars, while the band’s strong work together helps glue all the various parts into one. Later, the tempo cools down, though the band keeps striking, and melody laps over everything like a wave. The guitars burn off, and the final minutes are shrouded in fog. “Wrath” closes the record and is the longest track at 18:56. It’s ugly and ominous, as the song gets darkly melodic, and more psyche vibes settle into the mix. Some weirdness is injected into the play, adding a cool touch, and the band hits on a heavy shuffle that douses everything in heaviness. A burst of space sludge spreads, while the guitars are open and spacious, the pace lights up, and we’re into the mouth of hell. The band puts all irons in the fire as we reach the end, with dual guitars aligning and dizzying, and the song barreling its way into strangeness.

Clouds Taste Satanic make records that keep you on the edge of sanity, and “The Glitter of Infinite Hell” is another spellbinding entry to their molten catalog. They are massive beasts in the live setting, and this record will provide even more fodder for their stage actions. This is an album that takes some time to fully absorb, but once you do, each visit beyond your initial voyage will reveal different folds of hell that will scorch your body and soul.

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Eneferens’ spacious black metal reminds wintry days coming on freezing ‘In the Hours Beneath’

Winter is coming. That’s not a “Game of Thrones” goof. It really is. I think. Here on the East Coast of the U.S., I’m also hoping autumn will arrive, as it’s my favorite season. But that’s looking highly unlikely at this point as I gaze at the 15-day forecast. So, looking forward to winter is kind of a loser’s game.

That said, the music of one-man project Eneferens always makes me think of the snowy, freezing days that, allegedly, are right around the corner. Luckily for sole creator Jori Apedaile and for us, his music is getting the wider stage it deserves, as Bindrune Recordings and Nordvis Produktion are teaming up to bring the project’s second full-length “In the Hours Beneath” to their loyal audience. The music has been out there digitally since December of last year, but now more people can indulge in this nice mix of frosty folk and woodsy black metal that fits like a glove right at both labels. This six-track, nearly 43-minute collection will sound ideal once the snows start falling and we’re trapped in dark homes with equally blackened beers. But even now when the weather remains warm and oppressive, this music at least makes one think of a time when snow-crunched hikes and layered clothing are parts of our lives.

Fittingly, “Morning” begins the record, as sounds spread majestically, and serene guitar work bursts over the horizon. Apedaile’s singing and the atmosphere remind heavily of Alcest, making it seem like everything is easing into a fog. Calming synth warms up and adds a bluish hue before the guitars light up, the tempo gets heavier and faster, and we gently rollick into the finish. “Chrysanthemum” unleashes the power, as riffs set fires, and the vocals get growlier and more aggressive. The song lets the earth quake, while melodies rush in, infusing even more colors into the sky. Bursts continue to drop before the song melts into serenity and fades out. “Through the White” lets sounds gush, growls draw blood, and a proggier edge bite into the song. Cleaner vocals swell and become a greater part of the song, while the pace picks up and lets adrenaline crush. A brief measure of calm emerges, leaving an icy feel on the surface, before the track ruptures and bleeds away its chaos.

“Refuge” takes its time getting started, but it has time with its 9:24 run to fully develop, and it does. Melodic riffs rise as the vocals turn decidedly death metal. Guitars then begin to blind, as the tempo rages with great momentum downhill like a snowball with a boulder as its core. All elements spiral and crash before we calm down a bit. Singing floats and begins to rise higher, while dual guitar lines rule everything in its way. From there, the emotion caterwauls and leads right to instrumental cut “Upon the Black Mountain.” Pianos drip, while a wintry glaze is applied to the song, making it the perfect pathway to 12-minute closer “Ascension.” The serenity leads in before a storm erupts, and the song thunders away. Clean singing adds a different texture to the chaos, while the leads also ease up before taking off into the sky. Melodic calling and epic guitar work combine, as the lead play takes on a ’70s vibe (if Opeth played with this kind of vibe, we wouldn’t have an issue) before the song disappears for good into the cosmos.

Eneferens has been a bit of an elusive project since its inception, but with Bindrune and Nordvis on board, “In the Hours Beneath” should find a wider audience to admire these engaging songs. Apedaile’s style should appeal to fans of bands such as Panopticon and Wolves in the Throne Room, and this music can be a perfect companion when taking on nature. The deep freeze will be here soon enough, and Eneferens will be the perfect medicine to get us all through the dark months we so enjoy.

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PICK OF THE WEEK: Amenra smash their volcanic sounds with raw emotions on monstrous ‘Mass VI’

I don’t always go to all the shows I want to see. It’s a combo of a few things from working long days, needing time for exercise and nourishment, and just not feeling like driving longer than what feels comfortable. Every now and again I miss a band and totally regret it (Tom Petty this past June, for example) or I don’t get to see a band because of bad luck.

This past July, I flat out missed Amenra’s opening slot on the Neurosis/Converge tour. I was a block away, trying to grab a pre-show meal and beer, and I thought the show started later than it did. I caught the last five minutes of Amenra’s set, which still blew me away, but I’ve regretted missing the bulk of their set since. Now that Amenra’s fifth crushing full-length “Mass VI” has arrived, I feel even dumber. These guys are gargantuan monsters whose mix of post-metal, doom, and sludge is ungodly heavy. The six songs on this new record are some of the best of their run, a record that sure as hell should make a huge impact, especially among the Neurosis/ISIS/Cult of Luna fanbase. The band’s concentration on sadness, depression, and darkness never has been thicker, and the way the music rolls out of them, it’s almost like a personal demon exorcism right there in front of you, bleeding from your speakers. The band members—vocalist Colin H. van Eeckhout, guitarists Mathieu J. Vandekerckhove and Lennart Bossu, bassist Levy Seynaeve, drummer Bjorn J. Lebon—themselves went through their own trials and tribulations, from watching loved ones suffer with disease to taking on new parental roles. All that chaos is plastered all over this thing, and goddamn if it doesn’t feel like a self-cleansing when it’s all over.

“Children of the Eye” kicks off the record, and it’s a 9:41 cut that starts eerie and cold, as if we’re spiraling into space. A riff slowly formulates before it, along with the song, explodes to life. Wild shrieks rain down, while the pace pounds way. The sound hangs in the air, hovering over chugging guitars, and then cleaner singing emerges, sounding foggy and disorienting. The earth’s crust erupts again for a moment, as crazed growls wail, and the band deals heavy blows, but then it all dissolves into tranquility. “Edelkroone” is a quick interlude that’s spoken dryly, and then it’s into “Plus Pres de Toi,” that goes a healthy 8:40. The song rushes with melody and anguish, as cries scrape flesh off the face, and the tempo feels volcanic. We ease up a bit, with the song taking on calmer waters, and the singing feeling more melodic, before the assault starts all over. The band lays waste from here, with the vocals leaving ample bruising, their pain spilling all over the floor, and the song fading into the distance.

“Spijt” is a second interlude, also containing speaking but bursting into a fireball of intensity that leaves a trail of ash right to 9:04-long “A Solitary Reign.” Prog-folk-style riffs get us started, as van Eeckhout calls, “I see distance in your eyes,” a line he threads through the entire song. The band expertly applies soft/loud dynamics, as the singing eases and stabs, and the music follows the same pattern. Mournful sections flood heavily, as the band continues clobbering behind, and the twist of growling and singing stretches, adding to an emotional swell that slowly dissipates. Closer “Diaken” is the longest track at 12 minutes, and it gradually leaks into the scene, getting off to a plodding start before completely combusting. Guitars slice the flesh, while the band hits a melodic stomp, and their outburst of menace makes the calm section that follows feel like being brought up from under water. Cleaner guitars create a tributary, as the signing registers softly and vulnerably before devastation returns. Monstrous shrieks and playing that feels world-toppling join forces and create a seismic force that could, and probably should, end worlds.

Amenra have made incredible, volcanic sounds going on two decades now, but it’s their sixth record “Mass VI” that should be the one that makes their largest crater in the underground metal scene. This is an emotional bloodletting, a record that feels as heavy psychologically as it is emotionally. These guys lived every moment of these songs, and now they hopefully can sweat and bleed away every note of their creations.

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French maulers Celeste return with volcanic intensity, violent power on blistering ‘Infidèle(s)’

I love putting on music that leaves me completely annihilated. Like, a heaving mess on the floor trying to pick up the pieces, wondering what it is that just happened to me. I love to sink in and concentrate during music as well, but a good demolition sometimes is what it takes to get rid of the toxins and regenerate the self.

That’s always a good place to tackle music from French metallic force Celeste, who have been lighting faces on fire for more than a decade now. They have returned with their ferocious fifth full-length “Infidèle(s),” a harrowing, 10-track experience that hits you like an anvil carrying another anvil. It’d their first in four years, following up 2013’s monstrous “Animale(s).” As has been the case since they formed, the band has a sound that’s tough to pin down. Black metal, sludge, hardcore, and noise all are crucial elements of their explosive style, though none of them overpower the others. On this record, you’re bruised over 48 challenging minutes that rarely even take a break from dumping the intensity and heaviness. Yet, it’s not just brutality, as the band—bassist/vocalist Johan, guitarists Sebastian and Guillaume, drummer Royer—nuance the music with melody and emotion, letting you know human hearts are behind this thing.

“Cette Chute Brutale” opens with grimy power and raw growls, typical elements of the band’s songs, while we head into dissonant thrashing. Later, the band deals some hardcore juice, while the song grinds out as Johan tears his pipes apart. “Comme Des Amants En Reflet” is muddy and trudging, with the pace clobbering, and the vocals dealing maximum punishment. Faces are pushed hard into rocks, while the track has an ugly, violent end. “Tes Amours Noirs Illusoires” opens in atmospheric heaviness, making it feel like thick cloud cover is marring the sun. Nasty growls erupt while the playing folds in on itself, and powerful riffs drag us to the ground-soaking end. “Sombres Sont Tes Déboires” opens in a panic, as the song smashes away, destroying every shred of calm. Vicious growls and tar-thick guitars are intertwined and make sledding tough, while the back end is blistering and deliberately punishing, making you absorb every blow.  “À La Gloire Du Néant” tears apart and reignites the storms. Your brain wires are ripped out of your head, as the temperature cools to a freeze, and the sounds rush and fade.

“Sotte, Sans Devenir” chugs hard, but the music also hangs overhead and gives off a trance feeling. As the track goes on, its assault leaves bruises, and the shrieks and growls pelt the flesh. There are strong melodies packed inside but also a menacing end. “(I)” is a massive instrumental that has guitars churning, the band grinding away, and the drama continually building. While devoid of words, the song’s story still is easy to follow, and it rushes into the face of “Entre Deux Vagues” and its weird, nightmarish black metal-style riffs. In what is a theme of the record, the heaviness situates overhead like a cold, fall rain storm, and along with that are burly growls and a destructive path that rips everything in its path. “De l’ivresse Au Dégoût” is hypnotic and stunning, as the vocals bring devastation, and the band unloads a mathcore-friendly attack. The song clobbers intensively and repeatedly, with the song coming to a gritty, muddy end. Closer “Sans Coeur Et Sans Corps” begins as a slow-driving push, as the vocals scrape, and the guitars spill buckets of muck. Things remain blurry and dangerous, as the shrieks jab you in the ribs, and the group brings the song to a heavy-handed finish.

Celeste’s destructive energy and emotional outbursts always make their records memorable affairs, and “Infidèle(s)” is no exception. Their music, even if the language barrier holds you back, has a way of getting into your blood and raising your temperature. They rip through those roadblocks and create fiery music that either could signal the end of the world or the blazing rebirth of a new one.

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Sora tries to find clarity with madness on Throane’s icy, epic album ‘Plus une Main à Mordre’

How much suffering is enough? Everyone has a limit, and pushing oneself beyond what is manageable is not healthy for any person’s metal or physical health. When must one let go of the torment? At what point is it acceptable to stop suffering and simply slip into reflection.

Those are questions raised by artist Dehn Sora on his second record under the Throane banner. “Plus une Main à Mordre” (translated means “No Hand Left to Bite”) delves into that territory, wondering when it’s OK to go from chaos into reflection, a matter that’s not easily resolved. The answer lies in every person’s hearts, and there is no solution that works across the board. Sora sings in his native French, so anyone held back by language might not absorb every message he’s conveying, but the music is the great delivery tool, which crashes through all barriers. For Sora, who has done graphic design work for bands such as Blut Aus Nord, Ulver, and Deathspell Omega, this record marks a serious step forward creatively for this project. Sora handles just about every inch of this immersive, hypnotic record, save for the contributions from drummer Gregoir Cortier (Cortez), as well as Colin Van Eeckhout (of Amenra) and Sylvain (Incivil Tragedia). It’s a major step up from his very good debut album “Derrière-Nous, La Lumière” and a sign that Throane is going to be a force moving forward.

“Aux Tirs Et Aux Traits” has hypnotic tones and raw growls as guitars soar, and a halo of chaos is unleashed. The vocals remain monstrous, but the music turns cold and serene. That freezing continues and pushes into noise that wells up and barrels through. The track then reignites, as gruff fury takes this to an abrupt end. “Et Ceux En Lesquels Ils Croyaient..” is both atmospheric and animalistic as it gets moving, as dark playing and a melodic rush combine and thicken the darkness. The vocals feel like fingernails scraping a metal sheet, while Sora’s yells echo, and the song melts into time.  “À Trop Réclamer Les Vers” is really strange and disorienting at the start, with the growls going deeper and the music heading into shadowy dreamland. The song pounds away with precision, as the music causes you to go dizzy, and everything ends in a haunting assault.

“Et Tout Finira Par Chuter” contains psyche-rich riffs and a cool tempo before nasty growls blast in, and the bass recoils and brings painful darkness. The music heads into proggy black metal territory, as the growls are crazily barked, and then calm washes over everything. Out of that, the attack begins again as the growls bruise the flesh, and the songs comes to a rupturing end. “Mille Autres” starts with uncomfortably heavy breathing, but then the clouds burst and bring a freezing pain. The track gets spacey and strange, as desperate cries tear into the ground, and a pit of agony swallows you whole. Guitars cry out, while the vocals are choked, and the song goes back into sub-freezing temperatures as it folds its doors. Closer “Plus Une Main À Mordre” swims into a noise cloud, as the song heads into dark, moody waters, and then the lid is ripped off the thing. Spacious guitars also enter the mix, as the song feels like a fever dream from which you can’t awaken. Crazed wails and chilled singing combine, sliding behind the chaos, while the melodies fold into each other, giving the song a hypnotic finish.

I’m not sure whether Sora found the answers he was seeking with “Plus une Main à Mordre,” but the horrifying vortex created by this music indicates he sure went through hell trying to reach a solution. Musically, this is Sora’s vision coming into greater clarify, even while the tornadic music causes mental confusion. Removing oneself from chaos and sinking into clarity isn’t a mission easily accomplished, but Sora tried like hell to demonstrate how it can be done.

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NYC’s Pyrolatrous bring heavy, volatile black/death metal mix on face-bashing debut ‘Teneral’

One could argue that the current state of affairs, especially here in the United States, should keep most bands working and producing at an alarming clip. There is no shortage of inspiration, and no matter which side you approach things, there should be material for years to come. Unless we all die in a nuclear war, then, shit, we wasted a lot of pain, didn’t we?

Not that the band is necessarily culling the news for inspiration, but NYC black/death metal unit Pyrolatrous note that their lyrical content is mined from personal and social experiences as well as the band’s shared observations of the machinations of life. Welp, welcome to the feast, guys, and considering their nine songs on their crushing debut “Teneral” are this devastating, I’m almost not sorry things are so shitty everywhere just so these guys constantly will have a pool from which to skim. This record, lyrical approach aside, is one you also could put on if you want to have your head caved in and nothing more. These guys deliver the goods, and with all the cool records getting so much hype this year, it’ll be a crime if this one doesn’t enter that conversation. I know it’s going to be a part of mine. Anyhow, these guys—vocalist/guitarist Nicholas Palmirotto (formerly of Hull), guitarist Nolan Voss (also of Anicon), bassist Joe Merolla, and drummer Lev Weinstein (of every fucking awesome band including Krallice, Bloody Panda, Woe, Geryon, and Anicon)—actually got started a half-decade ago, but other priorities got in the way of this thing going full steam. Now that “Teneral” has landed, we have another furious band pitting black and death metal into a pit and used to vent their frustrations.

“From Darkness Reigns Omnipotence” starts this thing with feedback that works its way into punishment, wild cries, and a little bit of melody woven into the madness. The song starts trudging and chewing ground as guitars spiral out of control, and the song rushes away. “Hallowed Ground of the Night” ignites right off the bat, but then the juices are allowed to simmer. Vicious riffs meet up with strong leads, while the pace thrashes and churns away. Gruff growls paint with blood over the strong chorus, while the back end is violent, jerky, and doused with screams. “Eternal Realm” wastes no time as it gets into tricky, punchy rhythms and another nice dose of epic melody. The vocals burn and give off noxious smoke, while a killer solo brings the song to a fiery finish. “Soulless Disintegrator” has a lightning fury and a galloping pace, and the vocals scrape at the skin, and grimy, down-tuned guitars spread doomy horror into the song’s chemical makeup.

“Obeisance and Unrequited Adulation” is a seven-minute dragger that has an animated, angry pace, menacing growls, and later a halt to punishing, calculated violence. The song ignites again later, as guitars spill all over, emotion gushes, and the band shows a terrifying swagger before a flesh-buzzing finish. “Sovereign Terrain” has guitars slicing into flesh, militaristic drumming, and thrashy melodies. As the track progresses, the band unleashes pockets of speed, and Palmirotto wails about “destruction of lust, of longing” as the song clubs mightily over its final moments. “Become the Earth” has a blistering start, but then an unexpected, smoky guitar display adds seasoning, with vocals that match the attitude. It’s a nice, channeled assault that’s peppered generously with razor-sharp guitar work. “Beguile the Shimmering Moon” has a strange presence that’s disorienting, and that strangeness is allowed to fester. Grim growls and demonic howls twist together, while the guitars stab away, and the entire band mashes your senses. Closer “The Marrow” is the longest track, running 8:24 and showing a bit of a different side to the band. The riffs emerge from noise, and the temperature seems a little cooler, but still quite volatile. Some of the guitar work gives off an indie rock sense, though later when everything ruptures, vocals are spat out, the band slams the gas pedal, and the song is given a properly mangled end.

Pyrolatrous may have taken a little while to get off the ground, but now that it has, it has barnstorming debut “Teneral” with which to contend. These guys bring together their impressive pedigree and create music that could destroy worlds, which is fitting since ours might be at any moment. This record is worth going out of your way to hear, especially if you could use a little more pain in your life.

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