- Reviewed by Faye Coulman
REVIEWED: Stahlsarg - 'Suicide of God' (EP)
In a modern, digital era where a sizeable portion of our music consumption consists of idly flicking from track to track, barely stopping to register each randomly assorted smattering of electronic audio, there’s nothing quite like setting aside an evening to properly delve into a brand new album, savouring every intriguing little quirk and idiosyncratic detail. And, every once in a while, revelling in records whose staggering compositional brilliance leaves jaws agape and formerly jaded eyes suddenly wide and brimming with child-like wonderment.
Yet, while there’s no disputing the rich and highly immersive pleasure to be sourced from such generously expansive works of sonic artistry, UK black metal horde Stahlsarg here make a decidedly compelling case for quality over quantity. Specifically, this ferocious yet elegantly orchestrated EP achieves, within the strikingly economical space of a mere three tracks and 18 minutes, what many a big-name artist fails to do in over an hour’s worth of lazy and aimlessly meandering filler. And what a deliciously dark and visceral, multi-faceted pleasure ‘Suicide of God’ proves to be.
From insanely paced percussive blasts and lacerating spirals of tremolo through to sumptuous layerings of ghoulishly echoing, distorted fretwork, this relentlessly compelling three-tracker squanders not so much as a millisecond of studio time. Quintessentially blackened yet compositionally varied and inventive in scope, theirs is a meticulously layered assault that, despite its easily discernible reference points, showcases a calibre of songwriting that’s frequently found lacking in this oftentimes primitive and highly derivative subgenre. Indeed, with its adrenaline-fuelled blend of pummelling, viciously abrasive ultra-violence and deathly atmospherics, electrifying title track ‘Suicide of God’ is instantly demonstrative of Stahlsarg’s aforementioned knack for vicious yet richly immersive black metal. Paired with vocals harsh and caustic enough to corrode flesh from bone, this brutalising number is liberally furnished with layer upon layer of bristling tremolo, battering hyperblasts and densely contorted lashings of bass that audibly ooze ink-black malevolence.
Delving still deeper into these intensely hostile and eerily magnetic nocturnal territories, ‘Golems’ kicks off on a frantically energised onslaught of raggedly visceral tremolo and larynx-shredding screams, its ceaselessly writhing and reverberating motions gathering insane levels of acceleration. Alongside these synapse-scorching extreme dynamics, it’s also rich with intricately rendered melodic fretwork, melding together the stately, windswept grandeur of Winterfylleth with weighty, melancholic riffage that channels a decidedly doom-laden, Scandinavian flavour.
But it is, without question, eerily entrancing closer ‘Darkness, My Accomplice’ that finds the UK extreme metallers at their most sonically expansive within an epic piece that amplifies the band’s atmospheric elements to hauntingly absorbing effect. Led by tortured, thickly clotted screams that palpably reek of the grave above luxuriant strains of elegantly unfurling guitars, ‘Darkness…’ toys intelligently with richly layered atmosphere and various, exhilarating shifts in tempo throughout. Serving as a suitably epic conclusion to this vicious, compositionally intriguing three-tracker, suffice it to say we at Dark Matter eagerly await Stahlsarg’s next studio move with no small amount of keen anticipation.
'Suicide of God' is out now via Cult Never Dies