A rusty yet ornate vat containing a mixture of glass, black soot and scalding water bubbling to the brim; this is “The Near Death Experience”. With each passing second the pop and hiss of continual release fills the void as the murky substance threatens to overflow to the point of ruin. Dynamic composition forms your surroundings as your strength begins to dwindle, your body now hovering over a large space of nothingness separating you and the vile concoction. Letting go will expedite the pain, culminating in a split second of energetic burst. Clenching your teeth and holding on may be the path to salvation, yet it will require tremendous effort.
SPEKTR equals atmosphere, there is no way around it. You want a quick synopsis? Take elements of VELVET CACOON and undercut your palate with trace amounts of newer BETHLEHEM; quite fucked up and quite entertaining. Lots of ambience juxtaposed by raw Black Metal riffing which is drowned in layered distortion backed by steady rhythmic pulses. The ambient aspect outweighs the actual Metal portion, but the latter is often a bit more prolific than that of their influences, offering several very satisfying riffs and melodies. This sound is stitched together by a faint Industrial feel which seems to manipulate the otherwise organic compositions and form this sort of moving amalgam of a poem which is set on inducing a trance and fucking with your mental faculties.
This two-piece readily establishes themselves through clever utilization of jarring and caustic transitions which are completely unexpected. From the get-go the album is birthed through pulsing static before taking a nose-dive and splitting your skull with a “Wrath Of The Tyrant” type riff. Your eyes are pinned wide and your ventricles are always pumping as SPEKTR remain in control through continually layering strange sounds and awkward song structures. The moments of traditional Black Metal which are espoused infrequently is a bit more overt and in your face than that of VELVET CACOON, expending its energy in a quick explosion with an over the top scream and clouded melodic guitar frenzy. Due to the barbaric and open nature of such passages, certain portions of the album are a bit more disturbing upon first listen yet have trouble sustaining themselves upon subsequent spins. This is in stark contrast to the subtle songwriting which continually unfolds before your ears over an extended period of time. While offering both the former and the latter includes a bit of variation and helps to form the band’s identity, it also lowers the overall quality and ability to a degree as at any given moment the flowing cacophony could very well be quite sophisticated or completely shallow.
Despite the aforementioned nuances of this post-Black Metal Ambient monstrosity, there’s a great deal of enjoyment to be had if the listener is disciplined and patient. Such compositions command every ounce of attention and allow little maneuvering room for other such activities in the process. If one finds themselves even slightly distracted, you could easily neglect to take heed of such subtleties as the remarkable ability for tracks to bleed into one another and sort of unfold as a clever novel. The affect would be cheapened and the listener would not be afforded the opportunity to slip into a docile and comatose-like state before being rocked by a rapid waterfall of static, echoing voice, or inordinate tempo change.
While “The Near Death Experience” certainly stands strong on its own two legs, it could easily be well served as a chaotic soundtrack to a film such as “28 Days Later” or another suitable horror film with style and merit. The strange effects accomplished through instrumentation such as howling wind or dripping water keeps the hairs on the back of your neck at length and your attention sharply focused. Music which is truly unsettling and unnerving is not as easy to come by as one would think in the extreme Metal scene.
(Online November 1, 2006)