Life is all about contrasts. Some big, some small, some noticeable and some not so much. But in the end, without them, this would be a boring and laborious life. With that said, for this edition of Second Circle I’m taking a look at two albums that are sharp and stark in their contrasts but both have made an indelible impact on my listening habits as of late and both stood out instantly as albums I’d be engrossed in for different reasons and for some time to come. These albums are Slegest‘s Introvert and Ævangelist‘s Matricide In the Temple of Omega.
Norway’s Slegest have quietly been making a name for themselves in the black ‘n’ roll (or blackened doom metal, I disagree there) halls since their debut Loyndum back in 2013. Even though it was a little too on the hip with its Sabbath nod and was slightly undercooked, it still had enough of a spark to catch my attention. Then came Vidsyn which while overall was better executed and focused more on their overt classic rock side, the production sank it straight in the mud and buried nearly everything that would’ve made it exceptional.
Not so with third full length, Introvert, however. To me, this is the album the band have been hinting at for some time now; the arena ready classic rock and subtler hints of doom across the slower songs (“Maler Lys I Moerketid”) make it feel like a fully fleshed out version of the band. It doesn’t hurt that there’s a distinct 80s feel to the riffs in “Det Brenne I Glassi” and “Den Onde Sirkel.” And those riffs, mastermind Ese knows a thing or two about those as he was the guitarist for Vreid over the course of four of their best albums. Everything about Introvert puts it heads and tails over their previous efforts which if you think about the term ‘introvert’ it’s all about expressing from within and Ese expresses all of his influences here into the best thing Slegest have to offer and consequently stands as my favorite of the lot. I’ve talked a lot in these pages of how music is the soundtrack to life’s journeys and the way this album rocks, rolls and has a vicious black metal vocal bite, I could listen to it in nearly any given situation.
I jumped aboard the Ævangelist train with 2015’s Enthrall To the Void of Bliss and never looked back. There was something about their tar thick, impenetrable atmosphere and unclimbable cliffs of death and black metal that forced me to dive in and search for something, anything, that I could grasp to understand where they were coming from. Amongst this search for meaning, I found that ‘meaning’ or ‘complete understanding’ should be left by the wayside and just to enjoy the ride – meaning would come later. Now, I know that’s a tall order for music that is this dark or this difficult to follow along with but the pieces just fit for me. And even though it took several listens to wrap my brain around the direction on Matricide In the Temple of Omega and find some sort of footing, once I did it clicked, yet again.
The atmosphere alone is terrifyingly maddening but the backing layer of dense death metal that breaks through the clouds was my hook, my in. Over time, the repetition in tracks like “Æon Death Knell” and “Omen of the Barren Womb” grabbed me and left me with a fever dream feeling of drowning in quicksand. And at the moment of slipping under the surface, with lungs filling with mud and dirt, the bottom opens up into a shimmering world of light and dark — think sci-fi flick with a horror twist. But, as usual with Ævangelist’s music and particularly here, any light and airy feelings are fleeting. Looking back on the experiences I’ve had with Enthrall and De Masticatione for example, it’s always been this journey to and extended stay right on the brink of sanity then subsequent plunge into the abyss that’s kept me coming back and kept me looking forward to new material. What Matricide In the Temple of Omega does best is expose you to a battering of seething repetition while offering triumphantly brutal moments as a respite. It’s not all perfect and without full attention the repetition that hallmarks this effort can be a bit much to handle. But in the right mindset and complete surrender to this album as a complete experience, it is yet another crushing entry in the ongoing story of Ævangelist.