Kent’s Pertubator slips futher into shadow, shows humanity’s vices with ‘Lustful Sacraments’

Sure, this is a metal site, but we don’t have any preconceived notions that the people who read our work, and the artists we cover, simply listen to that style of music. I have a slew of friends I know through metal, and not one of them has rigid listening interests. In fact, we have bonded over other artists and forms of music because wouldn’t it be boring as hell to only enjoy one style?

James Kent is one of those people, who has dabbled in metal but whose interests stretch beyond that. He’s also the sole visionary behind synthwave band Perturbator, whose new record “Lustful Sacraments” is arriving five years after his last full-length, 2016’s “The Uncanny Valley,” though he’s put out smaller releases during that time. Strangely, this style of music has become fairly popular among metal audiences (the term “neon metal” has been affixed to this music, even though it’s decidedly not metal), and that same thing has happened with other forms of music such as folk and neofolk. The music here shows some development into new areas of darkness, and Kent brings in collaborators including Maniac 2121, True Body, BELIAL, and Hangman’s Chair to bring different vocal perspectives into the nine tracks you hear here. Thematically, Kent digs into the troublesome nature we take on as human beings and works to examine ways to address addictions and self-destruction.

“Reaching Xanadu” starts in eerie coldness as the storms begin to build and a chill is in the air, sending strange vibes into the night, heading toward the title track. Cool melodies warp as the vocals simmer beneath the waves, as the keys stab away, right beneath the ribs. We head into watery weirdness before a deathrock vibe emerges, and that flushes into warmer trails as a moody buzz gives the track a dark finish. “Excess” features Maniac 2121’s vocals mixing in with Kent’s, and the energy shoots toward you, embracing you. That digs into dark trickling as heatwaves rupture, and that slips into mechanical energy. That feels like a gust of summer dusk, feeling moody and moving at the same time. “Secret Devotion” delivers heavy beats, driving synth, and cloudy singing that moves into your chest. Speaking emerges, and a darkly infectious chorus infects your bloodstream, the playing navigates through the murk, and everything disappears into a thick haze and heavy pressure.

“Death of the Soul” hovers overhead as the synth adds a cold front, and then the beats push in and knock you around. The track hits jabs as BELIAL’s vocals add a new dimension, haunting in the shadows, entering atmospheric chaos that threatens to saturate the ground. “The Other Place” brings dark and moody melodies as the beats strike and blast hard, and the melodies work their way in and then eventually begin to fade. But the playing blasts through that, the synth whirs, and strange speaking sends strange vibrations down your spine. “Dethroned Under a Funeral Haze” delivers regal synth and moody singing from Maniac 2121 as a New Wave jolt gets into your muscles. The playing works through the humidity as the synth creeps toward you, the playing soars into the clouds, and then everything slides away. “Messalina, Messalina” pushes in with synth crawling and the beats echoing, while the vocals warble, and catchy, energetic air infuses the scene with power. The track moves on and explodes, the playing slowly spreads, and the keys evaporate suddenly. “God Says” finishes the album, joined on vocals by Hangman’s Chair, and things get eerie and strange in a hurry. The track moves slowly and thickens the mood, whirring strangeness enhances the hypnosis, and things even get more soothing. The vocals begin to push harder, the music swims into the murk, and a strange dream gets even more tangling psychologically as the track comes to an end.

“Lustful Sacraments” is Kent pushing the Perturbator vision even further but also exposes cracks in the foundations of us all, exposing the things that sometimes make us not the most ideal beings in this world. We all have darkness, no matter how much we might deny it, and walking through that chaos and examining could either make or break us. From the sound of the music and the way this great record is put together, it sounds like Kent came through his self-exploration a more confident, stronger artist, which is the best-case scenario.  

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