Singularity - Singularity - (9/10)
Published on December 29, 2014
Genre:Technical Black / Death
The term “technical black metal” is somewhat of a tricky, amoebic label to define, much less find examples for, particularly because most instrumentally proficient bands fall within the pull of death or progressive stylistic leanings. Even so, whenever one considers the likes of Deathspell Omega, Dodecahedron, or Krallice, for instance, “technical” isn’t so much the first descriptor that comes to mind as perhaps “avant-garde” or simply nothing at all, since it seems counterintuitive to the genre’s history and inherent emotional attributes.
Therefore, technical death metal—perhaps the least emotional and most mechanical of all metal subgenres—is arguably the last partner one would expect to marry with black metal, yet this is exactly what Singularity has done on their self-titled, debut album, and for the first spin or two it may seem slightly polarized until the whole thing gels. Perhaps by opening the album with two short tracks, one of which is instrumental and very technically inclined, leaning quite heavily towards Necrophagist, the connections between these distanced dots may seem stretched and far-fetched.
However, the mediating force among it all, arguably the élan vital as one comes to realize, is the heavy use of keyboards which stay tuned to the grand piano setting for most of the duration, giving the album a brooding yet bombastic tone, similar to what Spawn of Possession set out to do (but failed) on “Apparition” from Incurso (just listen to “The Resolution”). Such an oppressive, omnipresent symphonic element is indeed the life force of the album, with the richly layered and impressively adept fretwork providing the proper flesh and bones. The result is a grandiose body of work, wholly self-aware of its double-dipping tendencies but also reveling in its over-indulgent personality that the band knows damn well is sorely lacking in the metal scene these days.
The contrast provided by such tracks as “Throne of Thorns” and “Utopian Flesh,” as well, shows that Singularity smartly mixes up the songwriting styles, from menacing and surprisingly heavy (considering the guitar tuning) to something decidedly more ethereal and free-spirited, perhaps what Dimmu Borgir could have turned out to be if pursued more seriously. Nothing is really missed from that sad state of affairs anyway, since Singularity has arguably trumped 90% of their catalog in one fell swoop, putting to shame many a tech death band as well by bringing to the table what has been missing in that subgenre for a while: soul. Strange as it may seem, and stranger still that it actually works, Singularity has succeeded in melding the symphonic, thrashy orchestrations of Dimmu Borgir with the erratic technicality of Necrophagist, indeed a rare case of having one’s cake and eating it, too.