Doing what we do here a few days each week, we effort to try to find out as much as we can about the bands and artists we cover, as well as what goes into the record thematically, assuming that’s content made available. Obviously, this isn’t always the case as bands sometimes choose to use a shroud of mystery to obscure what we know so that the music is the focus.
We have just that today with “Wretch,” the debut full-length record from black metal miasma Anti-God Hand, whose approach to the sub-genre is jarring and swirling in cosmic chaos. The band, a quintet, hails from British Columbia, and that’s really about all we have other than knowing their seven-track offering runs about 33 minutes, all of which should capture your imagination and even instill you in wonder and terror. From the first time I heard this album, I was sucked into their strange universe and the journeys they set you on, working more to challenge your psyche than to beat you into the earth.
“Forest Outpost” cracks open with eeriness as echoes increase, washing into gross hiss. Smeary fury teams with gazey wonder, dangling into daring guitars that jolt hard, hammering into ugly fury. We move back to a slower tempo that drips, eventually drubbing out. “Zero-Harm Environment” has guitars sweltering as the body is torn apart, and the shrieks utterly melt. Terror lurks as cold tranquility begins to spread, icing over your brain, and then riffs return and knife into your central nervous system. The vocals crush all over, the force envelops you, and the track blasts away. “Threshold Magic” delivers violent riffs that penetrate the earth’s crust, and then we’re onto angular hell that makes it feel like your balance is toppling. Growls lurk as the playing tangles and rockets, and emotion spits sparks into fuel, ending the track engulfed in flames.
“Sacred Cannon” unloads sprawling riffs as the track just goes crazy, with rich melody bubbling to the surface. Shrieks scrape wounds that never healed, psychosis laps with a sickening thickness, and the playing covers everything with gore, soaring out into mystery. “Snowblade” churns as gazey clouds lower to the earth, flooding your senses as the shrieks follow with violent intent. The playing speeds up as spindly chaos ignites, with gurgly growls adding to the nausea. Everything burns melodically from there as the track’s guts are gloriously ripped out. “Moss Golem” begins the trickle in frigidity before jabs are thrown, and then shrieks arrive and spark chaos. Then panic strikes as all the elements are mixed, blistering fury takes a stronghold, and the vocals rain down, writhing in the mud. Burly pounding makes your head spin until quiet reflection suddenly takes hold, and elegant playing coats your face in mist. “The Axe That Splits the Cedar” closes the album, launching with finger tapping and fiery shrieks, smashing your bones into mush. The riffs soar through the air as the playing cascades, increasing the drama as the pace pushes. The playing clobbers while melody gusts, and the final moments blast off into space, immersed in wonder and confusion.
I know next to nothing about Anti-God Hand as far as who they are, what else they’ve done, what their motivations are, but I don’t care at all because “Wretch” is that goddamn good and absolutely hallucinating. Every time I think people can’t further fuck with black metal’s DNA, a band like this comes along and makes me look like an idiot. This is a record and band impossible to truly describe and will haunt you to your core.
For more on the band, go here: https://antigodhand.com/
To buy the album or for more on the label, go here: https://americandeclinerecords.bandcamp.com/