The Fertile Descent by Solar TempleRelease date: September 29, 2018
Label: Haeresis Noviomagi / Eisenwald
Last 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.
Is there a more unassuming, boring, ordinary word that can yet bring a spark of impenetrable darkness to the rotten-oak-root-heart of this black metal fanatic than… ‘mid-paced’? The term might seem dull, average when applied to profane things, but the secret of truly monstrous and transcendental black metal is hidden here! The raging freneticism of faster black metal may set itself aflame and burn out excitingly, while the grave pace of funereal underground metal can of course offer its own cemetery-creeping intrigue, even if straying from black metal into doom’s gothic gloom. But, pedestrian only in the sense of the mountain walker’s measured paces, the mid-paced in black metal allows for a combination of restraint and rage, which can alternately express a depressive trance of anomie, stately processional grimness, or unhurried black psychedelic meditation flowering.
Here, Solar Temple, sharing a name with an esoteric suicide cult, bring us a combination of the lot with two sustained pieces spanning nearly forty minutes in all. ‘Those Who Dwell in the Spiral Dark’ is the fantastically named first track, not just for its shrieking Lovecraftian space-twirling implications, but because spiral dark is a perfect description of the strange fractally changing then insistent consistent riff that begins, firstly with steps around the drone and then in unmoving motion on a constant chord. The shadowy voices in the background retain a detached sombre calm, preparing for the jerking, halting version of the riff later, and after that, a pool of slower oily sonic ripples. The remaining third of the track is a brilliant occult metal incantation, right up to its raven precipice dive to finish.
The other side, ‘White Jaw’, is a 20 minute sinister ritual that grabs you like a demonic robot trying to making a cocktail out of your shredded brain, relentlessly gripping and shaking and shaking and shaking that metal container of your sliced up mental bits and pieces in a series of harsh rhythms, before, at the 6 and a half minute mark, suddenly snapping out of the vigorous horror to pour your smouldering lumpy liquid mind over fresh icicles. As with the Turia split track and the final piece on the Iskandr album on the rest of the family’s releases, this one has a long weird tail, but which actually manages to sustain the esoteric interest. In this one, a group chant accompanies the fading of bass drone over odd scattering skitters, helicopter feedback and pedal-effect zoops eventually hum away leaving a charred forest clearing. Intensely burned by this smoking two track release.