I Shalt Become return with a new album roughly a decade after their first effort was released and not counting the Birkenau bootleg that has now been re-released as I Shalt Become. The one man project of S. Holliman continues along the same road as the previous release, which will satisfy most fans of mid paced black metal a la Burzum.
The album continues the tradition of I Shalt Become in that it uses guitars largely as droning layered sound, and employs vocals extremely sparingly. The guitars are very distorted and thickly layered, there are many mid paced arpeggio sections that sound extremely full and even synth like (when without distortion) due to the heavy chorus and reverb on the guitars. The guitars higher register also sounds slightly grating and out of tune, something not so pleasant to hear, and maybe purposefully done as the album itself is not supposed to be easily digested. Guitars dominate the mix, and I can't tell if there is a sparing use of synth or if the synth-like noises and sounds are being coaxed out of the guitars, which would be a rather interesting way of using guitars on a black metal release.
The drumming is distant and generally follows basic rhythmic patterns, placing the snare on 2 and 4 and the bass on 1 and 3, and then occasionally employing half time feels to give a more trudging slow feel to some sections. Vocals are equally as distant, and are extremely spread out, it seems as though each songs lyrics consist of only a few words, and the cds booklet reinforces this idea. Disregarding the low mix vocals, which can be best described as low growls, the album generally reminds of Burzum's Filosofem, with the harsh guitar sound and the mid paced arpeggio lines.
The comparison falls short though because this album lacks the memorable tremolo riffs of the above mentioned album. It uses almost exclusively arpeggiated riffs and a few power chord riffs, but very rarely do any driving melodies appear. The tone is almost doom metal sounding, and no doubt slower sections will remind of the doom genre though the crushing atmosphere is lacking. The atmosphere is definitely there though, rather unique, though the album becomes predictable around the second half of it's playing time.
Compared to what is being churned out of the USBM scene this is a nice change, it fills the gaps of USBM nicely, sounding refreshingly different from Xasthur, Krieg, and Leviathan. Some will undoubtedly be reminded of Xasthur due to the mixing and the riffing, but the album itself is far more masterful and tasteful regarding how it combines all it's elements and doesn't come off quite as cliche as a Xasthur disc might. It also has a haunting sound to it (thanks to the copious amounts of reverb on the guitars no doubt) that makes it stand out among bands like Leviathan that offer a more aggressive sound (even though Leviathan also loves to saturate everything in ***loads of chorus). All in all, worth checking out for fans of Burzum (especially Filosofem) and Xasthur and other bands in this vein.