REVIEWED: Bane's 'Esoteric Formulae'
Taking their infernal inspiration from such revered lords of darkness as Dissection, Dark Funeral and Belphegor, Bane have carved out a smouldering niche for themselves since forming in 2006. Although yet to reach any particularly giddying heights of infamy, the Serbian purveyors of blackened death have found considerable success and left a significant, suitably clawed footprint on the scene, with a couple of full-length albums and countless tours behind them. The band are unique in their peculiar flair for creating atmosphere; their scorching, mood-infused vistas balancing fast-paced riffs, suicide-diving death chords and bursts of hard rock with more sombre instrumentals and almost melodic moments of deep reflection.
A little more thoughtful than the usual pounding insanities of the genre, their latest album, 'Esoteric Formulae', has its own singular kind of twisted beauty that waxes and wanes like tortured flames. Creepy opener 'Invocation of the Nameless One' is a sultry, slowly simmering cauldron of exquisite, excruciatingly long drawn-out notes and plaintive, haunting strings. As deeply unsettling as the crude beginnings of a satanic ritual, it sends ripples of disquiet down the spine that echo throughout the whole album. What comes next goes straight for the jugular, ripping into the tender flesh with a raging, cursed cacophony of ferocious growls, otherworldly chants and crooked, jarring chords that strike like death knells. 'The Calling of the Eleven Angles' and 'Beneath the Black Earth' play like showers of gore-filled chaos as an impassioned bloodlust grips the members of the band and they become feral lyrical beasts, playing hard and fast and tearing out rich, vivid entrails of pure, distorted death metal. 'Bringer of Pandimensional Disorder' is the catchiest and most addictive offering on the album, although perhaps not as raw and visceral as the rest. Released with an official video in tow, it has a satisfying hard rock feel that will get the feet a-tapping and the head a-banging. A fast-paced, rollicking treat, it sweeps the listener along in an indulgent death-orgy of roaring vocals, pounding beats and fevered guitar strumming.
Yet it is Bane’s ominous gift for kindling sinister, stygian soundscapes that needs to be nurtured if the band really want to make their mark in a crowded industry, and it’s the latter part of the album where a sense of their true potential lies. The tracks get satisfyingly darker and deeper, the foreboding black metal elements really kick in and a more serious intensity starts to blister beneath the surface. The heart-thudding beats of 'Wretched Feast', interlaced with unnerving guitar solos, create an edge of shivering, delirious panic. The heavy rock of 'Reign in Chaos' is more harrowing than the earlier ruckus, while 'Into Oblivion', with its calamitous dissonance, flickers with hopeless despair. 'Acosmic Forces of the Nightside' puts the guitarist’s technical brilliance to ingenious use with some agonising tremolo that plucks at the very soul. Final track 'Wrathful Reflections' has a low budget, horror-movie feel, meandering along to bone-chilling effect until Bane’s burning opus slowly fades away on a single, elegant, agonised note.
'Esoteric Formulae' is out now on Black Market Metal