Lhaäd’s black metal bows head to oceanic majesty with dark, mind-penetrating debut ‘Below’

The ocean is an intimidating place, and I once lost a goddamn tooth at the might of its waves. I love to see the ocean and spend time there, and it’s an amazing place to go and lose yourself and recharge. But actually going into the depths of the water and taking your chances against one of the most intense forces on this planet is terrifying to me, and I know I stand absolutely no chance against it.

Lhaäd also have great respect for and fear of those great bodies of water, and it comes out in their incredible debut record “Below,” a black metal album that will take you somewhere you don’t expect. Even though I was fully aware the record was centered on the ocean, I also kept getting a galactic vibe from these six tracks. Sole creator Lykormas (a Belgian musician who also plays in Rituals of the Dead Hand, Entartung, and countless others) develops a world that is dark and adventurous, and even though death is around every corner based on the power of the water, you can’t help but take the plunge even though there’s no guarantee you survive.

“Below I” opens with guitars dripping before the pace fires up, the growls brawling you to the ground. A melodic flood accompanies a blistering charge, the vocals corrode, and the drums smash, with a frenzied charge rumbling to the end. “Below II” delivers scathing riffs and shrieks that blister with strange cosmic noises interjecting and becoming a presence over the body of the album. The pace mashes while the playing ventures even further into the massive deep, the leads extend their reach, and a sense of dreaminess is punctured by everything ramping up again and ending in devastation. “Below III” churns amid stardust as the track is shredded with throaty wails damaging your mid-section. The guitars keep daring, the tempo adds more might, and murky synth creates cloud coverage, simmering in a haze before melting.

“Below IV” is punishing when it bursts open as the riffs ravage and the vocals snarl. Speedy playing heads into a storm cloud of strangeness, eerie gusts test your sanity, and then the track re-opens, with the synth doubling down. The playing spits madness as monstrous growls and meaty riffs tangle and combust. “Below V” has riffs sailing and drums crunching as alien chemicals bubble to the surface. The synth glistens as the drums clobber, and the madness turns mind-altering as the thrashing guts, and things end in odd emotions and crashing waves. “Below VI” is the closer, mangling at the start and heading into awesome riffs that get your blood racing. Growls gurgle as the drums rattle, a deep-oceanic aura is achieved, and wild cries reverberate, driving you into wildness. The leads pick up as does the intensity, and the track is swallowed whole by the great deep waters.

While so much of “Below” feels like it’s operating in the stars above you, the truth is Lhaäd’s mind and inspiration is in the deepest bodies of water on Earth, a place that can humble you. The record is exciting and dynamic, an adventure in which to get lost and push your way through the unknown. Standing up against a force against which you are no match is terrifying and intimidating, yet this music will sweep you up and let you admire that unstoppable beast before it consumes you.

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

To buy the album (North America), go here: https://music.extraconscious.com/album/below

Or here (Europe): https://www.babylondoomcultrecords.com/?s=pre-order&post_type=product

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/extraconsciousrecords/

And here: https://www.babylondoomcultrecords.com/