In a time where Black Metal is either violent and chaotic, pompous and epic, or sinister and atmospheric, many bands are constrained by the already stone-carved rites of passage the genre presents. Only a very select few are able to transcend this creative barrier, surpassing any need and possibility of classification and categorization.
Even though this duo have two full-lengths under their belts from before, "Mescalyne" is my first experience with SPEKTR. Admittedly, this means I lack any real frame of reference, and didn't know what to expect from this EP at all. However, it should provide some unbiased and fresh perspective, which would prove very useful for this particular review.
After being subjected to a dark and brooding ambient intro, the opener "Hollow Contact" suddenly erupts into some strange and irregular drum-patterns. Then, without any warning at all, it throws itself into a storm of more traditionally raw Black Metal, brutal, evil and hateful. Suddenly, it morphs into an Industrial part, then more mayhem, then Dark Ambient again, and at last back to its Black Metal roots. All of this happens without following any apparent pattern whatsoever, and the unpredictability leaves me dumbfounded.
The total chaos is continued into the title track, and by now the extremely avant-garde nature of the music is becoming unsettling. Experimental or not, this is the kind of organized chaos that either throws you entirely off the trail with its many twists and turns, or straps you in for one hell of a ride. For me it's definitely the latter, and even though this frantic metamorphosis is stressful, it also has a decidedly strange addictive effect on the listener. I can't pin-point why, but somehow I keep coming back to this sonic torment.
Just as my head starts spinning, "Maze Of Torment" provides a break from the constant aural lashings, utilizing creepy samples and ambiance to create an eerie and very haunting mood. The track takes the listener down a dim and desolated hallway full of lurking apparitions, just waiting to reach out from the void and strangle you in their ghostly visages. In other words, there is still nothing pleasant about "Mescalyne".
Then suddenly the silence gives way for "Revelation". Since the mood has already been set, the now somewhat subdued Black Metal disorder is supported by a sinister vibe and haunting samples, taking the music to new levels. There are some surprisingly memorable riffs in the mix, which elevates the song above its predecessors. The insanity keeps transforming in and out of shape for five more minutes, then there is a whisper, and everything goes silent.
As I mentioned earlier, pinning SPEKTR to a single genre would be damn near impossible. On an experimental scale, "Mescalyne" is a tremendously interesting piece of work, and while it's not an easy album to get into, it's ultimately a very rewarding listening experience. Recommended if you're into post-Black Metal and Industrial influenced experimental Metal.
(Online January 12, 2008)