PICK OF THE WEEK: Pale Chalice finally resurface with scathing, charring ‘Negate the Infinite…’

Pale ChaliceIt’s not easy to find a band that can take black metal and make it sound fresh. There are tons of black metal bands—too many, if you ask me—and it’s so difficult to find ones that really make me excited about the music form and puped about digging into what they are doing.

But Pale Chalice are one that, ever since their formation in 2008 and release of criminally underappreciated 2011 EP “Afflicting the Dichotomy of Trepid Creation,” has had me hopeful that modern black metal bands still could be relevant and interesting. That collection scorches the flesh, but it also contained exciting elements and dynamics that pushed your brain to new levels. Clearly they weren’t just here to play black metal for the sake of it; they were here to add dangerous new dimensions and make it a place worth being enthralled about again. And then they seemed to disappear. It’s been four long years since that initial EP, but luckily those of us clamoring for their return are getting just that.

Pale Chalice cover“Negate the Infinite and Miraculous” is the band’s first full-length document, and it’s being dual released by Gilead Media, a label on a serious roll this year with some pretty heavy hitters on the horizon. Locked inside this seven-track beast are blasts of primal black metal that are heavy on the riffs, completely scathing, and a total payoff on the promise they displayed on their EP. The members of this mysterious union—vocalist/bassist Ephemeral Domignostika (also of terrifying Mastery), guitarists Oram Evad and Baneist Nonrutin, and drummer Masthanthric Nodrab—sound channeled, full of fire, and ready to prove black metal can spew dragon’s fire and be the most penetrating form of metal on the Earth. They also prove to be a band, black metal or not, that is worth following into the future because they just seem to be scratching the surface of what they can do.

“Through Vexed Veil” has a stinging, chilling open, letting the flames get fanned and cracking open at just the right time. The vocals emerge, sounding like they’re emanating from a formless void, and it spills right into barnstorming “Shaking Nerves and Vacuous Sphere,” a song that’s got some of the stickiest riffs you’ll ever hear. Each elements tidal waves one after the other, with the vocals sounding fiery and deranged and the music chilling your bones and surging your blood. The song calms a bit toward the center, as things are allowed to stretch and the humidity gathers. But toward the end of the song, the terror whips up again, looping back to the stomping that started the cut, coming to a smothering end. “Bound Intransigent Flight” has guitars spiraling out and savage vocals, with the tempo bounding forward and the atmosphere feeling a little rock oriented underneath all the soot. Domignostika’s cries are desperate and pained, while the band spends the final minute reigniting all of the blazes. “Fragile Bones Cradling Tallow” crushes hard, with a mechanical storm cloud hovering overhead, guitars shimmering and stabbing, and the vocals retching again. The song hits another level in its second half, with the intensity multiplied, the growls gurgling, and everything suddenly disappearing into nothingness.

“Weltering Depths of a Carrion Wave” has a super chunky guitar riff that drives this bastard forward, feeling like a winter storm pouring on with the vortex confusing your eyes and brains. The chorus is infernal and wonderfully simple, with just the song title howled back, and the bulk of this enrapturing horror has guitars swelling and the tempo driving you mad. Awesome song. “Bent by Carapace Chain” has riffs spilling down, creating a dark swath of shadows. Weird, deranged melodies ring out, spinning your head around, and that leads into the band chugging heavily before going back into the murk. It’s quite the journey. The sounds swim in the swamps, with wild cries erupting, the noises filtering out like you’re emerging from a dream, and a cosmically deranged finish. Closer “Stigmatic Glands Through Supernal Rifts” brings back the riff that opens the record, tying together the package nicely, though this cut goes in a different direction than does “Vexed.” The song simmers and lets off steam, heading in all kinds of different directions, rounding back to a thunderous pace, with the vocals lacerating veins and a blinding ending ripping the air from your lungs.

It may have taken seven years to get a full-length out of these beasts, but Pale Chalice deliver a hellacious display on “Negate the Infinite and Miraculous” that was worth the wait. This band is in the right place with Gilead Media to get their music to those who will devour it the most aggressively, and they are a unit that should get more immersive and destructive as time goes on. This is one of the finest black metal offerings this year, one that will punish your soul with every listen.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/PaleChalice

To buy the album, go here: http://www.erodingwinds.com/product-category/music/gilead-media-releases/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.gileadmedia.net/