This one I decided to keep separate from the overall month’s reviews for a few reasons, which should become apparent shortly.
So what do we have here? Well, it’s Finnish modern black metal, alright, but with a surprisingly atypical approach to that general orientation. Band members all bear pseudonyms hinting at a more esoteric bent than is usually encountered, starting with vocalist/frontman and video director “Frater Zetekh”. Whether what they’re doing is to the listener’s personal taste or not is open to debate, but for a change, their credentials appear to have more substance than not (Reason 1).
Open the CD, and you’re greeted with seals, sigils and signposts, but more interestingly, what proves to be a pertinent quote from Uncle Al himself to what follows within. Then comes the lyric sheet, and a number of correspondences crossing yogic, kaballic and more Westernized practice, which suggests more than a passing fancy name check of the man’s Work…
These guys specifically requested that I take a look at their videos as well (Reason 2), as they were self-directed and felt as worthy of discussion as their recorded material. So here we go.
Warning to the oversensitive: while I do attempt to be a bit oblique, these are not the sort of things you farm out to a general audience – they’re both somewhat esoteric and unquestionably disturbing.
As noted earlier, the band appears to be fairly serious about its metaphysical orientations, as evidenced by its trio of videos. The earliest, “Aura Mystica” (2011) crosses a Kenneth Anger-esque experimentalism with touches of Jodorowsky’s Holy Mountain and a whole lot of Crowleyan ritual, with the seeker (or sorceror) adorning himself with alchemical symbols (though foolishly failing to enclose the ritual space, so far as can be seen) and very likely attempting to cross a particular aether, given his ongoing assaults by the vocalist (acting as a certain accusatory spiritual force) and two oversexed females (at least one of whom is similarly symbolically adorned and representing the desires of the flesh), both of which he seeks to transcend through yogic meditative practice.
At one point, the accusing spirit seems to join him in parallel (possibly hinting at transcendence if not samadhi), but he soon returns to assault and buffet the practicioner. There’s also a simultaneous track representing a painful birthing process of sorts, a chrysalis seeking to transcend the limitations of flesh and likely ego. It’s all pretty on point with certain esoteric practices and aims, if somewhat simplified and basic in many respects.
2014’s “The True Law” is a far more disturbing and ugly affair, a Peace Sells-style bombardment of rapidly flashing, looped occultic seals, sigilis and suchlike. This is flashed over a live (well, warehouse set and staged) band performance cut together with a far more crazed supplicant who ritually chops off his hair before committing suicide. Uh…Jon Nodtveidt much?
Robed cultists in faceless masks collect the body and set it afire, and his dead face starts to shed light like an elemental as captured by Spare. He even looks a bit like Nodtveidt… Lacking in both the artistic/cinematic and presumed positive orientation of the earlier video, this one’s just nihilistic and bleak, and far more akin to your standard extreme metal video than what preceded it.
The more recent “Bloodsoaked Chakrament” crosses the two, returning to the more alchemical/magickal orientation of “Aura Mystica”, but retaining the dark vibe and edginess of “True Law”. What would appear to be the same deceased seeker returns as a mummified corpse (complete with bullet wound from the last video) to work another ritual, which seems to involve astral projection (though oddly, there are more than two figures at one point), pursuit by an oncoming elemental spirit, robed cultists and the enthroned presence of a horned being, read as you will. There’s a few photos of prominent magicians past, a near death experience/astral travel lighting effect and some kaleidoscopic effects to represent the kundalini flash, as it were, and it’s all over.
Not the sort of thing I was expecting to see, what you get here is a mix of dark metaphysics, practical (or impractical, if you will) Work and art house sensibilities comingled with some typical video tropes that hearken back to 90’s industrial (remember some of those nastygrams from the dark subconscious?).
It’s both eyebrow raising and more than a tad revolting in both visual and implication/intent to see these, but there’s no question that the guy is more than a dilettante and does “get it”, whatever your feelings on what’s being said and done may be (or however you may choose to stand in reaction thereto). Anger, and to a lesser extent Jodorowsky, certainly ring true as both precedents and reference points.
Musically, Saturnian Mist proves reasonably interesting and points to something of an actual “new direction” within the tired, copycattish milieu of modern black metal, and since I wasn’t in the least bored by it, that’s already a plus.
Lyrically and in terms of booklet, visuals and intent, it’s quite likely the least “safe” thing I’ve run across in the entire scene. You play with this, you’re playing with a blowtorch, hermetically speaking (note the apt and oft quoted warning about the chakra work and some rather particular, yet strangely increasingly “mainstreamed” forms of yoga – I’ll let the more informed or interested reader guess which – addressed within the booklet, folks). And there’s Reason 3.
Well outside the comfort zone, and more than a little dangerous, even among the ostensible “serious” outsider playacting of the black metal scene. Due respect (as I’m sure the man knows from both our chats and hereinabove), but I can’t in any conscience actually “recommend” it to the uninitiated – puts the likes of Lemouchi and company to shame in certain (non musical) respects.
Now back to the usual Third Eye (C)ontemplations…