If I may go against purist grains here today, there are many, many ways to play black metal, and it’s one of the things that fascinates me so much about the style of music. Yes, I know that there are many camps that disagree with this, and that black metal is to be played one way, with certain philosophies in mind, or it isn’t true. I can appreciate that way of thinking even if I disagree.
Today and tomorrow, we’re going to look at a pair of bands that have diametrically different ways of interpreting and presenting black metal, with two of the genre’s more interesting and provoking new releases this month. One has a more wide open, new age style, while the other takes things back to the basements and dungeons. However, each band also has elements that set them apart from like-minded artists in black metal, making each band pretty unconventional. Today we’ll look at Australian quartet Loss of Self, a band that made a huge impression with their first demo and now are getting their music released on a wider basis, something they deserve very much.
I remember first reading about Loss of Self on a blog somewhere last year and being intrigued by what I read about their sound. I tracked down their demo and instantly was captivated by what I heard, with their full range of melodies, sounds that defy and leap-frog standard black metal, and passion that, sadly, you don’t hear enough from artists today. In any genre. Those three songs really stuck with me, and when I learned Flenser Records was working with the band, I instantly was excited to hear the next evolution of their sound. Sure enough, with their new effort “Twelve Minutes,” we hear just that, a band entrenched in a sound and confident in their approach, but not afraid to change things up and add different colors. This release is as exciting as I hoped it would be (it’s also much longer than 12 minutes), and they instantly turned into one of those bands you need to hear right now.
Yes, black metal is at the base of Loss of Self’s sound, and their harsh vocals, blasts, and outward aggression they exhibit speak very clearly to that. But they also have a post-punk and even indie rock side, making me think a lot of Bosse-de-Nage, Alcest, and Deafheaven musically, with enveloping melodies, deep pockets of beauty and color, and something that grasps things other than fury and anger in your soul. Their music can be cleansing and relaxing, even when they’re drubbing you, but your mind always is swept away and your inner emotions allowed to bleed forth, which can be a pretty healthy way to experience music. I get that every chance I get to spend time with “Twelve Minutes,” and I haven’t had a similar journey with it twice. That’s another way you know the music you’re hearing is growing and mutating in front of you, which can be a real rush.
The first portion of the record is made up of six brand-new tracks, the first out of the gate being “Isolt,” a song with an indie-style kick, rich, colorful melodies, and eventually some abrasive vocals and a solemn but bruising finish. “Paradise Overgrown” lets Loss of Self show their uglier, more violent side, with warbled vocals, guitar violence, and drums that are beaten to a pulp. It’s one hell of a change of pace. The title track is a bit more melancholy, with shoegaze fire and vocals that go from sing-singy growls to demonic shrieks. “There Must Be a Great Wisdom With Great Death” sounds like it would be a trip through relentless mashing from its title, but it’s more reflective and atmospheric, with creaky vocals and a dreary disposition. “()” is an ambient, eerie piece that’s a stage-setter for “The Free Intelligence,” that’s somber, cloudy, and watery, with the band releasing their darkest, most damaged emotions into the air when the song finally bursts and the vocals pierce like glass. These six songs are fantastic pieces of work, and this only sets my anticipation ablaze for what’s ahead for them.
If you haven’t gotten your hands on the band’s demo yet, you can relax. The three songs appear here at the end of the release in their remastered form. Obviously they sound better and a little fuller, though they were pretty great tracks to begin with. “The Inheritance” is soulful and bursting with energy, even taking a few turns toward what sounds like a Midwestern U.S. approach to indie rock, though that could be by accident. “The Mind; Its Form and Function” feels more punk rock, though it shimmers and shines in places, something Loss of Self do quite well. “Seidlitz” has a college rock feel, to use an archaic, albeit fitting, term, and and as the track gets moving, it gets rowdier, with the shrieks growing more manic.
I had high hopes for this Loss of Self album, and they’ve definitely been surpassed. This is a band that’s overflowing with emotion and talent, and they don’t mind pushing past black metal’s walls to the overgrown fields beyond. This is one of those bands that just grabs you and changes your mood, no matter how hard you fight, and you mind find their work soothes what ails you on your darker days when you just want someone to understand.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/LossOfSelf
To buy the album, go here: http://theflenser.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://theflenser.com/