Inevitably Dark



by Gary STAFF
October 12th, 2023 | 5 replies

Release Date: 06/23/2023 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The first step in Xasthur's revival? A few good signs amongst the waves of the 'forgettables'.

Xasthur's discography has seen its share of ups and downs over the years, and it's challenging to find the right words when facing the latest work of Scott "Malefic" Conner, the Californian artist who has delved deeply into the dark realms of black metal. At least, that's how I feel about it. For those familiar with the darker corners of the black metal genre, the name Xasthur has become synonymous with the Depressive Suicidal Black Metal (DSBM) subgenre. It was around 2010 when Malefic started really focusing on his acoustic dark folk project, Nocturnal Poisoning, and just later, around 2015, he returned to the Xasthur moniker hoping for reaching a wider audience while he was still playing acoustic music.

In 2021, he released the full-length album Victims of the Times, a recording that can best be likened to “running headlong into a concrete wall”: an absolute career killer. This album ranks among the most abysmal musical experiences I can recall. Horrible, pure torment. Undoubtedly, the negative reception which surrounded the aforementioned release was a significant setback for the band, and made many fans very disappointed. In this context, back in 2015, when Malefic had returned to Xasthur, he set certain specific conditions: he would never release black metal again, also distancing himself from the genre. Yet, here we are now: after releasing his worst album just two years earlier, in Inevitably Dark, the iconic disheartened distorted riffs made a comeback...

“Should we celebrate this?” The question arises for the dear reader, as it did for me when I first got my hands on this album. Like a Pavlovian response, my initial feelings were quite positive. However, after a more thorough examination, I pressed the play button with some trepidation. There are two main reasons for this: the album's runtime approaches nearly two hours, and it's entirely instrumental.

After a few tracks, the album soon reveals its true nature. This does not mark Xasthur's full return to their roots because, amidst the black metal sections, there are remnants of the experimental dark folk era that Malefic has been exploring in recent years. For instance, right in the beginning, the third and fourth tracks on the album (“Psychiatric Carelessness” and “Euphoric Bad Trip”) are some of these acoustic compositions - and they may evoke mixed feelings in the listener. They are often cumbersome and lack profound emotions and innovative ideas. Moreover, there are a few bluegrass-sounding pieces that may come across as rather absurd (ridiculous even) such as “Concrete Mattress”. The majority of these tracks are more technical than atmospheric… and they are far from memorable, to say the least. Exceptions might include “Spectrum Of Hate” or “Hypnotized By Lies” where the synthesizers provide an eerie quality to the music, but there are just a few examples for this.

The album also features some ambient compositions, such as “Benefits Of Dying Part 2” or “Blizzard Inside A Coma”, and even some death metal, e.g., “HellRot”. This is surprising yet not surprising, as Malefic played in several death metal bands before the formation of Xasthur. These “outliers” in my opinion, don't contribute much to the overall experience; they feel like just unfinished pieces or mere experiments that might fit well on a demo but feel quite tiresome on such a long full-length album.

However, let's also acknowledge the album's good aspects: the black metal tracks. While it doesn't feel like these tracks are fully developed (e.g., the first third of “Overdose On Diversions” is quite childish), some of them have their own appeal. This might be especially true for those songs that carry a hint of avant-garde, such as “A Future To Fear II” or “Live Like A Broken Mirror”. In these tracks, you can feel a sense of dissonance akin to what you might find in Blut Aus Nord's current Disharmonium series, creating a sense of unease in the listener. The album's best track, “Delusional Identities”, falls into this category due to its atmospheric qualities and dissonant sinister riffs, making it the best Xasthur song in many years. (I daresay: with vocals, it would bring back the old Xasthur!)

“So, should we celebrate this? I ask the question again. I think yes and no. Yes, because we finally heard something from one of the icons of DSBM. Also no, because given the album's length, it offers relatively little in terms of enjoyment. Most of the tracks are immature and at times uninspired. Will this be just the first step in Xasthur's revival? We will only know for sure in the long run. One thing is sure though: don’t expect another “Walker of Dissonant Worlds” from this one.

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user ratings (13)

Comments:Add a Comment 
Staff Reviewer
October 12th 2023


Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

This feels like a Xasthur-only month for me. I had to review this one, because this band is not dead yet!

Contributing Reviewer
October 12th 2023


Unlike the album, this text is enjoyable to read. Xasthur has really lost it in my opinion.

October 12th 2023


Album Rating: 1.5

Dude usually* has a great mind for composition and melody, even that acoustic sing-song album from 2021 had some pretty stellar and intricate guitar parts. I feel like this album has the same problem that pretty much every record he's ever released has had: It sounds like shit. Surely he's sold enough records over the years to buy even borderline mediocre equipment to record this stuff.

Also the majority of this record is quite boring, unfortunately.

Staff Reviewer
October 14th 2023


Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Thank you for the compilment NightOn, it means a lot to me.

> album from 2021 had some pretty stellar and intricate guitar parts

Really had them? All I can remember to is a... rather irritating feel the album emitted, constantly. But I do agree with the sound quality issues, there is no excuse for that.

October 26th 2023


Album Rating: 2.0

It's better than the previous Xasthur album. That's probably the best compliment I can give this.

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