PICK OF THE WEEK: Ævangelist’s chaos, infernal flames smeared all over ‘Writhes in the Murk’

Photo by Alyssa L. Paulsen

Photo by Alyssa L. Paulsen

Chaos and torment are elements that make up a great deal of metal in this day and age, and sometimes they can serve to undo works of art. Too much of either can feel overbearing or even annoying. But the right amounts, presented the correct way, can enthrall and even cause you to teeter on the edge of your own breakdown.

They haven’t been clubbing souls for long, but Ævangelist have, in a little under five years, shown the word what true panic is all about. Their music is suffocating and terror inducing, like you’re trapped underneath a great weight or lodged in a deep tunnel, with only your throbbing anxiety there to keep you company. Their sounds are pummeling and punishing, but also oddly intoxicating, like you’re being overcome by a great cloud of mind-altering smoke. It’s such a strange experience, and with each of their first two albums–2012’s “De Masticatione Mortuorum in Tumulis” and last year’s great “Omen Ex Simulacra”–this Illinois/Oregon-based band has created an audio journey that equals strange nightmares from which you feel you’ll never wake. Sound perversely pleasing? Good, because it is.

Aevangelist coverNow comes the band’s third record, the massive and swelling “Writhes in the Murk,” and the title is appropriate because that’s what you’ll feel like you’re doing listening to this many-tentacled beast. Death and black metal are there ripping apart foundations with their tornadic approach, while heavy and gusty industrial elements also make their presence known and give the record the feeling like it was formed in great steam-filled factories. After all, how else would these strange figures in vocalist Ascaris (he also handles sax and cello) and multi-instrumentalist Matron Thorn come up with such menacing, steely creations. Shit, I often forget they’re based in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest, they’re so bizarre. It feels like they should hail from a rogue, burning planet or underground. Oh, and when they play live, the lineup swells further, including musicians Æryn, ][, The Auditor, and S.

“Hosanna” starts off the filth hymnals, and you can bet they’re not being sent on high, as noisy industrial pounding and murky, churning guitars open up this madness. The vocals go from warped growls to pained moans, and the whole environment is eerie and strange. Everything explodes anew toward the end, with drums splattering, the vocals being spat crazily, and everything disappearing into a hiss. “The Only Grave” is built on doom-heavy riffs, slurry melodies, and gurgling vocals, like Ascaris has a pool of blood welling in the back of his throat. The song sounds like it would be appropriate material for a dank dungeon, where some poor bastard is hanging upside waiting to be tortured. “Præternigma” has black metal powering it forward, and along the way it meets up with more harsh growls, a thick haze of violence, and then some eerie, almost prog-style playing that trickles all over. Odd bellowing emerges like a crazed prisoner being held somewhere, potentially hallucinating, and the final grinding moments ensure the proper amount of damage was done. “Disquiet” brings things back to calm temporarily, acting as a weird, blip-filled bridge into the second half of the record.

“Ælixir” has a neurotic, twisted sense, with vocals and guitars swirling about and a mashing sensibility that smears you. Creepy dialogue emerges, noise whinnies and pierces, and horns cry out, meeting up with bone-dusting drums. The song takes a foggy, jazzy curve, the music sustains serious artistic damage, and the song bleeds out into the night. “Harken the Flesh” has a slow, weird start that also heads toward black metal terrain, but the kind that also is inhabited by bands such as Deathspell Omega and Blut Aus Nord. The song is mucky and muddy, there are zaps of noise, and some old-style guitar soloing hits toward the end. That’s the weirdest part of the song, the section that feels the most straight-forward. “Halo of Lamented Glory” blasts open with a rock-solid riff, abrasive growls, and more nauseating melodies that might make you think the room is spinning. The second half of the song straightens out a bit, headed slightly toward accessibility, and the track fizzles out in static. The closing title cut has a clean, creative bend, and some classical-style guitar playing emerges to add a sense of infernal class into the proceedings. The song charges up, of course, as guitars chug, the vocals belch tar, and the hell is allowed to spread all over. As the track goes on, it gets stranger and stranger, with a female voice providing icy commentary that borders on inviting death, and the final moments offer room for both hammering violence and alien transmissions that leave your head swimming and you confused as to what you just heard. It’s a hell of an unsettling album, and I know it took me several listens just to digest everything that was going on here. I’m still not sure I have a complete handle on it.

There’s no way to put Ævangelist into a corner or to hold them to some kind of standard, other than experimental excellence. They put their own spin in black and death metal, and everything they do is interesting and compelling. “Writhes in the Murk” continues the band on their path of infernal chaos and proves that they’re only scratching the surface of what they can do creatively. It’s weird, it’s warped, and it doesn’t go down easily, which are high compliments. This band will burn a hole into your gut and your psyche at the same time. Holy shit, what could possibly be next?

For more on the band, go here: http://www.newobliviongospelmusic.com/

To buy the album, go here: http://www.debemur-morti.com/en/12-eshop

Or here (North America): https://shop-hellsheadbangers.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.debemur-morti.com/en/

Or here: http://www.hellsheadbangers.com/