Euprosopon by IskandrRelease date: September 29, 2018
Label: Haeresis Noviomagi / Eisenwald
Second of three releases coming out of small Dutch collective label Haeresis Noviomagi on tape, and CD and LP on Eisenwald, German label and distro with a great alertness to local extreme underground scenes that deserve a wider audience. This one is the third release from Iskandr after debut Heilig Land and EP Zon.
We start with a sort of playing at creaking hinges and tentative guitar stabs, and then things begin to jingle and skritter with little bells of nerves and anticipation. An exhaled note of breath imparts something dark into being, and we’re off. The opening track thumps along in a three-four rhythm (an extreme anti-waltz?), the drums shuffling uneasily while emphasising the return to the downbeat, allowing the guitar to gradually build higher tension. The shortest track present, this is still an eight minute jolt to grab you by the face.
Second track ‘Regnum’ leaps out of a stutter at the end of the first, and there are quickly rising plates of riffs with hoarse growls and aggressive drum fills, which evolve into some highly dramatic sweeping passages due to the growling of the foreground vocals and some kind of demonic choir shrieking at the faint edges. One of the screeches sails off into no-mans-land, and a sullen sawing creak croak beckons an acoustic guitar, brilliantly recorded in inky spools, a sort of medieval mediterranean middle earth sound, an elf trapped in a cave for a thousand years, a black metal counterpart to Sabbath’s ‘Orchid’.
And of course, after ‘Orchid’ follows ‘Lord of this World’; so here we have the burst of third track ‘Verban’. It’s got the most dynamic forward motion of the four pieces, with a great drilling piercing high-register riff while those drums continue to load in the compelling fills. Finally, closing track ‘Heriwalt’ appears with more desolate atmospherics. This time the acoustic guitars are more like riffling fluttering moths wings, then an ancient sigil riff is formed out of pushing and pulling buzzing noise, underpinned with a gloomy, ponderous bassline. This precipitates a sliding, crashing section like the fragmentary collapse of an ice shelf, and then in the end the shuffling of the roosting bat moths again signals the gathering dusk.
Like the beautiful monochrome cover image, this is a striking vision of black metal architecture.