Doma by SelvaRelease date: February 14, 2018
Label: Overdrive Records
If you stare at a wild sea smashing into rocks for an extended period of time, the churning maelstrom takes on new life-forms. The lumpy swell barging into land becomes the back of a clumsy whale. That wave fanning metres into the air becomes a dragon’s frill. The spray from a whitecap is Neptune himself, spitting anger through his beard.
If you will excuse the florid introduction to a review of this third offering from Selva, an Italian post-metal trio, I got a similar feeling of life-forms unearthed with repeated listens to this two-song EP. On first impressions there are two 11-plus minute squalls of blackened screamy intensity. All well and good. But then you notice things; variations, major-chord progressions that your reptilian brain responds to by giving you goose-bumps (I believe the young folk call this ‘all the feels’)… jaw-dropping rhythmical holes to fall into with no discernible escape.
Those who have followed Selva up to now will know what to expect. Their debut, Life Habitual, was a stunning first foray into the bear-pit that is post-metal. And the follow-up album, Eléo, showed that the band were not afraid of a lengthy atmospheric blast, nor were they shy of throwing in a few hooks that if turned down a little, would grace any pop song. It was one of my favourite albums of 2016.
And so to Doma, which starts with ‘Silen’ and its ambient electronic hum punctuated by theatrical guitar power chords. If Selva do not begin this song when playing live with a ton of dry ice, they are missing a trick.
The intensity rises slowly until suddenly you realise that you’re listening to a frenetic black metal frenzy, where the unintelligible screamed vocals are a fourth instrument. It is marvelous: oppressive and uplifting at the same time. It then morphs into a churning riff which will make all but the dead nod their head, then heads back to a reprise of the introduction, but this time accompanied by a shimmering guitar.
I could go on. But that would ruin the surprise for you – there is so much to this song, it deserves a little mystery. And every listener is bound to discover their own favourite parts.
The second song, ‘Joy’ is not nearly as intense, beginning with a languid vamp (languid for this band, anyway). And there is a lot more melody, barring for a lengthy barrage in the middle of the song, where the band blast their way through one chord for what seems like an eternity. Just as you are about to yell “Stop!” it relents.
There are two things which raises this song up from ‘great’ to ‘fucking hell, that’s amazing’. One is the half-beat of silence about five minutes in, that brings to mind the catchiest of those melodic hardcore bands that seemed to breed like wildfire in California in the 1990s. The other is the extended outro, a lovely but lonely riff that demands repeated listens, if only to see if your heart can stand the pain. In fact both sings demand repeated listens. And you will also discover the life-forms and melodies within.