It’s weird to me how some bands explode and become sensations on the internet and in extreme metal magazines, and some don’t seem to catch on. It’s not like there’s criteria written up for these things, and it’s just that people with the power to persuade catch on to some bands, while other groups that deserve it don’t seem to catch fire.
I thought about this when considering the new record from Chasma, the atmospheric black metal trio out of Portland, Oregon, who blew me away on their debut full-length effort “Declarations of the Grand Artificer,” released by both Moribund Records (CD version) and the Mylene Sheath (vinyl). My first thorough listen to that record was while I was at an auto dealership getting 100 things checked on my car, so I was pissed off and annoyed and didn’t feel like relaxing or meditating. Yet I put on my headphones and indulged in “Declarations,” and it made an hour go by like nothing, so instantly I was hooked on this band and this record, and I still listen to a lot two years later.
With the release of “Codex Constellatia,” the band’s sophomore effort, we not only get a return from Chasma, one that might finally turn the tide of public opinion toward this awesome band, but we also have our first Moribund release of 2013. Not sure what happened there, but that label hadn’t put out anything new since the last Canis Duris album in November, but they follow that up explosively with this effort. As for Chasma, they’re still making terrifying noises that sound like they were inspired by some great cataclysm in space. They remain heavy and pulverizingly melodic, and they intersperse little bits of dialog samples here and there to maintain a mood. Yeah, that’s been done a million times before, but they keep it to a minimum and use the pieces to full effectiveness.
Chasma’s lineup remains intact from their debut, as Ryan Whyte handles bass and vocals, Aaron Schomaker is on drums and vocals, and Brandon Gordon is responsible for the mountains of guitars you’ll hear on this record that sound massive, but not obtrusively so. The songs move along poetically and seamlessly, and much like their debut, you can get caught up and lost in these songs and find yourself on the other side of this 44-minute album wondering where time went.
“Burning Shapeless” opens with a clean melody line and some eeriness, then some noise drone slips in, and the intensity slowly ramps up. A ferocious assault breaks out, though it’s cut a bit by atmosphere, and the shrieking vocals are fully of intensity and blackness. It’s a strong opener that is a sign of promise for what’s ahead. “Solarsin” has a dark, dreary intro, and the tempo stays murky and mysterious as it moves along. Interestingly, they choose some fairly violent, disturbing quotes form the 2009 film “The Road,” one of the last movies I ever thought would be incorporated into a black metal song, but it really works well. “Forbidden Symmetry” follows and is an instrumental interlude that is weirdly cosmic and makes you feel like you’re floating into a wormhole.
“Wormwood Horizon,” the longest cut at 11:51, also is situated in slow-melting guitars and whirry oddness, and the noise slips into shoegaze thunder and a flood of sound. There are noisy sizzles and some clean passages weaved into the song, and toward the end a really bright melody comes into the scene and adds some positive color. It feels like black metal terror interpreted through an ISIS filter. Suddenly, things don’t seem as horrific, even if that’s just the personality of the music telling you that. Closer “Reflections” is, well, reflective as it opens, making it sound like the album might expire on a contemplative note, but then it explodes with fiery shrieks and metallic panic. Yes, there are some moments that are calmer than others and let you have a breath now and again, but eventually the doors get blown off again, and moody punishment takes you to the end of the road. If you find at the end of this thing you floated away now and again and did some mental exploration, you’re not alone.
Chasma should be a bigger deal and should get far more mention than they do, but maybe this record will fix all of that. “Codex Constellatia” is a strong sophomore effort from this trio that never eases up on the drama or the fireworks. This is a band you want to check out right now if you’re behind the curve so that once everyone else catches up, you can ask where the fuck they’ve been all this time.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/chasmablack?ref=ts&fref=ts
To buy the album, go here: http://www.moribundcult.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?
For more on the album, go here: http://www.moribundcult.com/