Review Summary: Immersive as all Hell, and one of metalcore's best in a year to remember.
Whenever I think about what Hell truly sounds like in its purest sonic format, my mind immediately returns to Deathspell Omega. Few bands rival the absolute delirium that the obscure Frenchmen convey, encapsulating what can only be described as a winding, perilous descent into a fiery abyss. Lyrical content is soaked in Satanic mythology so vigorously that only a For Today album could cleanse the unfortunate speakers subjected to the onslaught. It’s an atmosphere that many have tried to capture—this sense of life literally crumbling to dust, barely held together at the seams by discordant guitar strings—but few have truly mastered. It takes a real passion to the craft, strong musicianship, and an equally tough will to push things to the brink. Take a trip to Torino, however, and it seems as though Noise Trail Immersion are embarking upon the arduous journey to conquering the bowels of the Earth—or, in the case of sophomore effort Symbology of Shelter
, your very own consciousness. In a land once ruled under the tyranny of the Devil’s own messengers, one can spot the ambitious Italian quintet readying to plant their flag in the territory of dark music.
Giving mention to black metal is essential in describing Noise Trail Immersion’s output, as they’re very upfront about the genre’s influence on their math-laden metalcore style. Put under inspection, a dissection of Symbology of Shelter
turns the listener into the music world’s version of a food critic: one detects a burnt, smoky sort of taste from the dissonant production—no doubt a potential takeaway from the aforementioned creators of the cheery Paracletus
—that cloaks the release in an abrasive fog; there lingers a sharp bite, likely from adding a healthy dose of ferocity from Converge; and someone with a time-tested palette may even catch a hint of the post-metal insanity unleashed by Eden Maine. Packaged together, the result is an album that revels in that trademark chaos-bred metalcore style but carries the burden of an ominous shadow that infects every minute of runtime. This is certainly an intentional maneuver per the band’s concept behind their newest product; in their own words, it embodies “the inner crisis experienced by everyone’s conscious self, that uses “shelters” in various forms to satisfy a compelling and nefarious need to attach meanings to life.” What follows is surely an invasion into the deepest recesses of being.
While it can be formulaic to talk about the opening track of any record to start off, it’s natural; this is how the audience first greets the artist and it generally sets the tone for what’s to come. No other track could best set the stage than “Mirroring,” which establishes all discussed traits in an immediate assault against the listener. A wailing guitar, more of a siren than an instrument, is the only warning before being plunged into a swirling mass of pounding percussion, interweaving, technical riffs, and the thunderous bass. The song wraps around its murky ambiance, slowly creeping over your shoulder. The haziness finds a home in not only the black metal camp, but as a hearkening back to the raw, unclean exhibitions bred in the metalcore’s infancy. Not pausing to lose momentum, Noise Trail Immersion bridge the gap between “Mirroring” and the two-part “Repulsion and Escapism” with militaristic drumming and a heavy bass riff, dragging the captive audience kicking and screaming through existential dilemma. Vocals roar from a distant prison, screaming out all grievances: “Betrayed by my own body / My soul is wandering / Leaving the holy flesh / A temple built with the pain.” These opening numbers display an engaging dynamic range that sprints forward, slows for a breath, plays in polished tones and then tunes them down into oblivion.
It’s in the final three entries where Noise Trail Immersion attain a definitive climax in their chosen direction. Added up to over half of the disc’s duration, these titanic tunes dominate Symbology of Shelter
with their massive presence. Nowhere else are the post-metal leanings of the Italian group pushed into the spotlight than the droning guitars and brooding setting that is painted throughout “The Empty Earth” duo; the first half briefly launches into a metalcore outburst before decaying into static punctuated by reverbing notes. The second half is characterized by an eerie clean vocal performance stretched across the initial three minutes, light strumming functioning as a haunting background. It isn’t until six minutes in that the band reemerges, erupting into a weighty riff buttressed by an expressive harsh performance that truly portrays inner agony. Then, amassing their resources—suffocating atmosphere, memorable, technical passage, punishing heaviness to name a few—the gang rips through the near eight-minute conception from which the album earns its name. Witnessing all these elements coalesce in such a brutal yet attractive manner is amazing, especially when the track’s gradual crescendo reaches its peak.
The final key to success demonstrated is the incredible cohesiveness presented. Despite occupying a 43-minute interval, Symbology of Shelter
sounds larger and more expansive, making it rather surprising when it does slam its gates shut. Instead of individual offerings, the group constructed Symbology
to act as one immense monument to internal torment, each listing utilized as a separate section of a greater whole. No energy dissolves through transitions because the band doesn’t allow it to; akin to puzzle pieces, the parts of this release click together perfectly, no space shown inside their merger. The thing that’s least shocking is that everything ends exactly how it began: rampant bedlam. Noise Trail Immersion damn their appreciators to one certainly hellish expedition, foreboding storm clouds circling around with voices crying far off in the void. An explosive collapse of instrumental power and vocal might terminates the voyage, executing a fantastic, dramatic end sure to destroy nearby audio equipment. You’re not granted any sensation of resolution, only a resignation—that the human mind is a prison, and we are to deteriorate in our self-made cages. And in that, this Italian collective have formed a personal Hell in the heads of their fans. It would suck if it didn’t sound this awesome.