Imagine you’re out at night, alone, with the wind whipping at you and cracking your skin. Except, you feel like someone or something is there with you, and whether that’s as a friend or a foe, you can’t help but notice a second presence. And then your hear an inhuman voice, enough to make your guts turn to liquid and your heart race, as you’re in the vicinity of something awful.
The scenario played over and over in my mind the first visit I had with “Mysteries,” the third full-length record from mysterious one-man Portuguese metal project Black Cilice, and it’s one that doesn’t seem to go away no matter how used to the surroundings I get. On the surface, it might seem like another lo-fi embracing black metal band looking to make the murkiest, most primitive of sounds. But dig deeper, and you’ll find cavernous melodies, entrancing horrors, and a voice designed to terrify you. At least, I think it’s a voice. What sound like vocals on these six songs could be mistaken for a ghoulish wind, a transmission from a long-dead soul that is begging to reach out and express every ounce of its torment. It’s just one chilling element of what, honestly, is a very strange, quite alien-like album that must be heard to be believed or understood, if that’s even possible.
Black Cilice is the product of a nameless musician who has been releasing music since 2009, when the first demo was released. Ever since then, the music has come in waves, with a number of demo and split recordings, and two other full-length records: 2011’s “A Corpse a Temple” and 2013’s “Summoning the Night.” Never has this band been an easy one to approach, and you’re kept at the same arm’s length on “Mysteries,” a record that really could not have been given a more fitting name. After countless listens, I still am trying to fully comprehend what’s going on and what this is all about. Not that I’m complaining.
“To Become” opens the record and immediately lets you know what you’re in for with this album. The sound is furiously drowned out, with an odd buzzing over top that seems to loop through every song, and indecipherable vocals that might as well be beams of static burn through the mix. Melodies build up like an oncoming solar storm that could rip the world’s communications to shreds, and the frost and hellish ice pack so hard, it feels like you’re lost on Hoth. “Into Morbid Trance” runs 7:15 and totally messes you up hard. Damaged riffs chug, and howls sound like they slip into and out of realms. The tempo drubs hard, and disarmingly sleek playing snakes its way through the fog. On “The Truth,” the noises bobs like its rollicking on a dark body of water, and chaos erupts, with scary transmissions swirling and mournful guitar work adding more levels of bleakness. The final moments haunt and moan, and the song eventually just disappears.
“Ceremonial Energy” feels nothing but negative, with searing leads battling with the sound muck, echoey vocals reaching out from the land of the dead, and the pace eventually sludging and trudging its way over you. The song eventually blows apart, with the pace hammering, noise whining, drums being pulverized, and the last remnants of a voice dying off. “A Prayer From Beyond” is fittingly titled, with the guitars stinging, noise splattering all over, and a heavy whirring that could make you feel like you’re locked in a vortex of hopelessness. There is heavy thrashing causing fires underneath, repetitious pounding that could drive you insane, and a thunderous assault that punishes you to the very end. Closer “From the Long Forgotten Past” shakes and disorients you from the start, with howling freezing your senses, a delirious tempo taking hold and upping the danger ante, and guitars that burn and char everything in front of it. Melodies arrive and have their say, doing battle with the sheets and sheets of noise, and it all comes to a stabbing, gushing conclusion.
Black Cilice’s music is for those who want to reach beyond what’s normally expected from a genre and explore the outer reaches where few dare to tread. A lot of bands and artists have tried similar aesthetics as what you’ll hear on “Mysteries,” but this project stands out for the absolute panic it will put into your heart and the detached, out-of-body-experience level of strangeness you will encounter. Yes, it’s early, but I wonder if you’ll hear another black metal album this adventurous and mystifying for the rest of 2015.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Black-cilice/180165665369041?sk=timeline
To buy the album, go here: http://ironbonehead.de/shop/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.ironbonehead.de/