Review Summary: Another worthwhile release brought to you by the Black Twilight Circle
Kuxan Suum thrive on being an enigma. When the group released their first track on the Worship Black Twilight promo in 2009, they did so as an unnamed entity. In the years since we've learned the band's name and its members - Volahn on guitars, bass, and vocals, and Murdunbad (of Arizmenda) on drums - but the air of mystery created in that one subtle move has never quite cleared. There are never any Kuxan Suum announcements, and to this day the band has only released three songs in the six years they've been together. Despite the Black Twilight Circle stepping into the limelight, Kuxan Suum has always remained a few paces behind, preferring to remain enshrouded by the shadows.
Though the band's image and aesthetic is as black metal as it can get, musically Kuxan Suum is one of the most ambitious projects involved with the Black Twilight Circle. Acting as the outlet for the progressive tendencies that have no place in Volahn's other projects, Kuxan Suum explores psychedelic black metal without abandon. Their self-titled first (and only) release is a compilation featuring two the group's three songs. It may only be a duo of tracks, but with near half an hour of such densely packed material, it's well worth your while.
Kuxan Suum opens with "Kinich Ahua" which originally found its home on the 2009 release, Worship Black Twilight. Though a sprawling seventeen minutes, "Kinich Ahau" is so well composed, it doesn't feel nearly that long. It's a captivating combination of eerie ambiance and straightforward black metal pummeling. The first several minutes are spent building tension; think of Pink Floyd in a black metal context, slowly compiling layers of space-y atmosphere and piercing over-driven guitar wails. The pressure continues to mount until the levee breaks, releasing a torrent of cascading blast-beats and blackened tremolo picked fury. However, Volahn is not your average black metal guitarist. His playing is a juxtaposition of technicality and simplicity that is simultaneously more diverse than others without losing the sense of aggression and mysticism that roots it within black metal's boundaries. It's what makes any project he's involved with immediately distinctive, and Kuxan Suum is no exception. Overall, "Kinich Ahau" is a complex, but ultimately rewarding listen.
"Principle of Harmonic Resonance" was first featured on the 2011 Rhinocervs compilation Odour of Dust and Rot, and the more mature of the record's two songs. Here, the combination of psychedelic and black metal is a more subtle and complete fusion. Keyboards accentuate Volahn's dexterous playing, which is slightly less over-driven than usual, coating his guitar passages with a memorable shimmer. Aside from mescaline-drenched interlude that makes up the song's midsection, "Principle of of Harmonic Resonance" feels
more black metal than its predecessor; a testament to how tactfully the progressive elements are woven into the songwriting. It's equally as eccentric as "Kinich Ahau", but in much different way. When it ends, you'll find "Principle of Harmonic Resonance to be both immediately gratifying and capable of becoming a true long-player.
What really makes Kuxan Suum so great is how they've written songs that can appeal to both fans of progressive black metal and fans of traditional black metal; two camps that rarely see eye to eye. In writing pieces that are incredibly intricate but also uncompromisingly raw, they've found a way to bridge the gap that so often divides listeners of the genre; as an entity associated with the mighty Black Twilight Circle, anything less would be unacceptable. Seemingly coming and going as they please, we may not know when to expect the next Kuxan Suum release, but we do know whatever they do next, will unquestionably rule.