Review Summary: Insanity never sounded so good.
Depressive Black Metal is quite infamous within the black metal community (and only within this community because no one else has really ever heard of it). If brought up in a civil conversation of perhaps a few second wave bands, most fans will roll their eyes and remove themselves from the discussion. And, perhaps their apprehension is not unfounded, for since its inception it has been plagued with one-man projects intent on releasing their inner feelings, which usually turn out to be just another hour long snoozefest of minor chords straight out of Mel Bay's Ultimate Chord Book strummed over horribly grim production and completed with the depressingly cliché suicidal lyrics (Xasthur
, I'm looking at you). Enter Silencer
, the Swedish black metal outfit with perhaps more infamy than the genre they represent. Releasing only one record, Death - Pierce Me
, before the split up and famed institutionalization of vocalist Nattramn, Silencer
have left their mark on the musical world. And what a mark it is.
When one hears the word depression, usually images of that creepy Play-doh thing from the Zoloft commercials come to mind, along with the hundreds of other anti-depressant ads and commercials. And, with all the ads and campaigns against depression thrown at us every day, it is quite difficult to approach something classified depressive without a small bit of apprehension. Silencer
almost demands a certain sense of apprehension, lest one be thrown unknowingly into its assault. It surely is not for the weak of heart. Death - Pierce Me
, is, at its very core, a cold, melancholy, and, surprisingly depressing record filled with minor keys with only one song below the six minute mark. Yet, it doesn't feel as if it was produced solely as a depressive record. Unlike its modern day competitors, Death - Pierce Me
does not wallow in the fact that it is what it is. It is cold and nihilistic. It is depressive and melancholic. However, it is anything but pretentious; giving the vibe that feels natural instead of forcing it upon listener.
While remaining securely within its genre, it is not without its purely brutal black metal moments, giving the record a sense of variation most DSBM records lack entirely. The evolution of the structure gives its songs a stance opposite its genre brethren, and instead of being largely drawn out and boring, they build upon each section, giving them a sense definition and worth. Songs such as Sterile Nails and Thunderbowels
mesh the screeches of Nattramn perfectly with the tumultuous atmosphere of perfect guitar work, and while many of the other songs don't seem to mesh quite as well, the vocals are never out of place and serve to complement the charged soundscape perfectly. Strategic use of piano and synthesizers only serves to raise an already great album to even greater heights. The acoustic guitar section the album opens with, on the title track Death - Pierce Me
, proves the musical worth of the entire album, building suspense until Nattramn blasts in with more wails (succeeding in making me jump even after a few listens to the album). The production is clean and sharp, with slight fuzz on the guitars to give it just a small sense of haziness and fog.
However, there is one element this record contains that few records in our, or at least my experience with music, can control and manipulate. Death - Pierce Me
is unabashedly insane and wholly emotional. Silencer's
vocalist, Nattramn, emits wails and screeches most dying animals would be hard pressed to emulate. While traditional black metal rasps are present throughout the album, the disturbed yowling takes the center stage throughout most of the record. I am not sure how much of Nattramn's famed institutionalization is real, and how much of its conception was purely for publicity and attention, but one listen through the album almost guarantees that at least some of what was said is true. I liken it to Nevermore's
classic album, Dreaming Neon Black
. They may be genres and leagues apart, but both of these albums contain an element most musicians can never quite capture. Complete with equally doubtful background stories, the performances of both Nattramn and Warrel Dane shatter any skepticism towards the validity of their legendary tales.
In summary, if you are a fan of the melancholy, and believe you can handle the tortured strangeness of the vocal performance of the album, it is an absolute classic, taking everything a DSBM album ever did wrong and steering it in the right direction. Whether it is slow and cold, or crushing and brutal, Death - Pierce Me
contains moments of infinite variation for the listener and never ceases to become boring, with even the closing piano track leaving an almost perfect album with little to be desired.