Review Summary: Bluegrass mixed into my br00dal black metulz!! Can this possible be worth listening to?
Of all genres, this album combines black metal with Bluegrass? How can this work? I mean, black metal has worked with shoegaze, folk, and neoclassical, but honestly Bluegrass? This album works because is a fulfillment of the basic goal of black metal - protest through what seems to be the most hideous, unworldly, unthinkable way possible, but yet still managing to be beautiful. The album is composed of 3 ear-blistering 10 minute long burst beat filled black metal songs, entwined by banjos, fiddles, and spoken words more emotional and thought provoking than those in Godspeed you!'s Lift your skinny fists.
The real accomplishment in this album is the how he works the non-traditional instrumentation into the melodies to produce such a smooth, heartwarming (from a black metal fan's perspective) atmosphere. This instrumentation flows so much more seamlessly than the last time I heard banjos in a black metal album (Taake's album Noregs Vaapen), but the thing that has me returning over and over again to this is the emotional value tied into Austin's whole message throughout the album about the coal mining industry, which has made as much of an imprint on his community as this album has on my outlook of folk metal (Panopticon is a project by Austin Lunn by the way).
The story told by this is reminiscent of sitting around a campfire, with its intimate, hearthlike telling. He makes it feel personal with brief statements by voices made to be as realistic as possible with a certain atmosphere only possible with bluegrass instrumentation, the only kind which can properly transports you to that glowing campfire. He summarizes a tale of the human condition with vivid emotion and a concise message that the coal industry ***ed his community up. As Austin says in an interview, "These weren't black-clad anarchists and hippies, they were families and the elderly, people wanting their kids to play on the playground toxin-free. The last lines of that song [Black Soot and Red Blood] talk about the coal companies not giving a *** about the people who work for them and the communities around mining sites, so a sample from that protest, just on the border of Kentucky, for me, was perfect." This kind of built up hatred against the industry, utter rage and irritability, is all the listener knows by the end of the album. The album conveys exactly what he wanted to tell, as closure for his ruined community and protest against the monstrosity of the corporation, through the kind of medium any black metal fan can understand.