Review Summary: Fathom this.
The second wave of black metal has been around for a little while now and it’s fair to say listeners are now pretty disillusioned with the idea of the genre itself being innovative, or at least adapting to the flavour of the month. That said, there’s still a release out there that dissociates itself with the run of the mill transgressions found in the bowels of Bandcamp. Less vanilla perhaps? Doing away with the more milquetoast progressions and productions in favour of something more
. That’s probably building too many chances for hyperbole and yet, Superterrestial’s sonic landscape just fits the bill. That is to say The Fathomless Decay
isn’t extra-terrestrial by any means; but it is
what black metal needs early circa 2023. Here’s the rub: “Dark Energy” and “Transient Lunar Phenomenon” are respectable, but incredibly run-of-the-mill by modern black metal standards.
That’s okay. The Fathomless Decay
’s power isn’t in the shock value of screeching its way through a baser of black metal aesthetic. Blood, gore and goat’s heads aren’t on display here. No, it's climes gain strength particularly around the middle—and the album grows, expands and lands somewhere in the reaches of space. Despite the eventual ascension onto a higher plane, the furor and rawness of “Escape Velocity” still remain accessible, within reach and not at all as confronting as the black metal tagging implies. It’s because The Fathomless Decay
retains a foothold in an atmospheric aesthetic, crafting riffs that rip, soar and groove all at the same time (with “Escape Velocity” being a prime example). Still, the clear contrast between the album’s opening half and the second become palpable. “Solar Constant” is still as much a fierce romp that bridges the gateway between those respective two halves and yet the moods and ethereal atmospheric introduction of “Periastron” wouldn’t be the same without it. Furor and rage make way for a brooding sense of wonderment—aesthetic not forgotten.
Fairly, the dichotomy here is um…black and white. Superterrestrial succeeds in being both a prime example of modern, second wave black metal and providing just enough atmosphere to prevent The Fathomless Decay
from being downright boring. However, it doesn’t exceed the expectations of a jaded listening community. The Fathomless Decay
isn’t essential, but it’s definitely on the greater side of ‘okay’. Wherever you land on black metal these days it’s hard to deny the genre’s perhaps diminishing returns. Sure, outside of a few prominent acts we could argue that this niche has run its course—but as long as there are a few acts aiming beyond the stars, black metal won’t completely die. The Fathomless Decay