Mysterious metallic collective Recitations bubble to surface with weird debut ‘The First of…’

Photo by Kris T. Therrian of 17 Seconds Photography

Photo by Kris T. Therrian of 17 Seconds Photography

Many years back, players that were competing in the Super Bowl used to get announced name by name. It gave everyone on the team a chance to bask in the global spotlight in arguably the largest game on Earth. Then, about a decade or so ago, that stopped. Teams decided to come out onto the field together, as a solidified unit, egos and lust for spotlight be damned.

Maybe the Super Bowl is a bizarre way to introduce you to Nordic death/black metal collective Recitations, but that’s exactly what you’re getting. Reason is the people who make up this band—and from a recent shadowy band photo, I count five members—reveal nothing about themselves. They want to be recognized as a whole and not via their individual contributions, therefore, we know nothing about this new gathering. Well, that’s not entirely true. We do know their debut record “The First of the Listeners” is a smothering, heavy, challenging listen that isn’t going to let you down easily. The record is a combined effort from Signal Rex and Avantgarde Music, two of the more interesting labels in underground metal, and the music constantly drips secrets and mysterious notions throughout its 29-minute running time. That’s also a nice dose of music. Too often bands feel the urge to use every second of a CD or LP’s run time, when instead, they can put their best material forward and make a stronger impact that way. They’ve certainly done that here.

recitationsThe 7:43 title track begins the proceedings, as the tracks blasts the doors down, and dizzying playing slithers through. Creaky, strange growling begins to pick away at any fresh wounds, as well as starts some new ones, while strong riffs chew with might, and the rest of the band breathes fire. Things slow but still bludgeon, as the pace mesmerizes, and the growls return and join up with bellowing calls that’ll make your flesh crawl. The song continues to bring with it confusion, while the end is slurry and muddy, coming to a furious finish. “Tongueskull Sacrament” is the longest song at 9:38, and it lets drums roll in, drone to layer like a thick fog, and strange chants to terrify. The guitars begin to sludge, while wild howls enhance the level of terror, and the guitar work simmers. Later, a more rock-oriented pace kicks in, but that’s only temporary, as echoey cries hint as a plea for mercy, synth zaps in and brings a cosmic assault, and the rhythms begin to thicken. The cut ends after another harsh blast that leads to a murky haze that suffocates and deranged wails push panic buttons.

“Godspeak Halili Lija” is a really strange one and mostly filled with ambient progressions. Fog sets in and blocks out all light, while chants arise, and with them a cloud of energy that feels summoned from deep space disperses. Acoustics work their way in to tease a sense of calm, while everything keeps getting blacker, and hisses and warped voices encircle your head like a halo of insects. Organs rain down as if pulled from a real-life horror house, and the final moments do nothing to soothe your unease. Closer “To Voice the Unutterable” is the shortest track at 4:27, but it wastes no time crushing bones and unleashing worlds of torment. Howls and growls sink into the flesh, while a lurching tempo ensures the punishment is meted out in a calculated, mean manner that has no concern for mercy. Weird throat singing brings more psychological terror into the picture, while acoustics blend in, and everything is morbidly washed away.

It really doesn’t matter who makes up the ranks of Recitations, as their debut “The First of the Listeners” should be appreciated for its terrifying depth and not the people who constructed it. Having a sense of mystery can be a good thing and can enhance an already alluring package such as this record. But at the end of the day, all that matters is the substance of the music and if it affects you emotionally, and this record hammers each of those goals with every thunderous listen.

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