(This is Part 4 of a 5-part series by Austin Weber about noteworthy January releases and a few from the end of last year.)
Simulacre – La Jaiba
Simulacre is a brand spanking new offshoot of the legendary (in underground circles) French “technical/progressive black metal” band Asmodée. While it’s a pain in the ass, I’m quite thankful as usual that Facebook allows you to “follow” a band’s every post, since I would have never heard about the birth of Simulacre otherwise.
It’s hard to discern who exactly from Asmodée plays in Simulacre, since there is a different line-up listed on Bandcamp for each of the two songs on the freshly released La Jaiba EP, made more difficult by the use of pseudonyms within Simulacre. Still, the strong prog leanings in a black metal setting certainly draw apt comparisons to what Asmodée achieved over the years, while sounding like a completely new entity at the same time.
The band bill themselves as “mid-tempo black-prog” and that’s a succinct yet accurate tag for what their music consists of. Which should also clue you in as to whether you might find this of interest or not. Speaking for myself, anything that isn’t traditional black-metal-by-numbers appeals strongly to me, and if you also find yourself in that camp, I urge you to give this exciting two-song effort a shot.
Balance Interruption – Door 218
I have a confession to make, though by now it’s probably quite obvious: I’m addicted to skronk, and like a potent drug, its sway over modern black metal and death metal suckers me in every time. But there’s one from 2016 I missed out on, one that feels like it warrants coverage even now, and that’s the latest Balance Interruption album.
As always, I have to give credit to our esteemed editor Islander for covering some of the early singles from Door 218 before it dropped on September 28th through Satanath Records. But, I didn’t see it getting a lot of coverage elsewhere, which is a shame given how high the quality of this album is, so I figured that justifies covering it again now.
The group hail from Kyyiv, Ukraine, and Metal-Archives tells me they’ve been active since 2005, with Door 218 being their third full-length overall thus far. Beyond delivering a potent blend of avant-garde skronky black metal with ravenous deathly influences, Balance Interruption also employ saxophone playing throughout the album, utilizing it in a smooth and melodious fashion as solos and instrumental reprieves between the album’s otherwise ungodly harsh and chaotic nature.
All sexy sax moments aside, Door 218 is a damn fine album that runs circles around the majority of black metal I hear — though the added touch of saxophone-led moments does give it that extra bit of identity all its own within the skronk paradigm where something like this is less common than in progressive black metal such as Solefald, Aenaon, Maladie, Ihsahn, and so forth. Likewise, the bass playing here is fantastic, and gets a more prominent role in the mix and the songwriting than in many of their black metal peers.
If you missed Door 218 until now, don’t let the possibly confusing band name and album title lead you astray; this is a killer fucking album that expertly traverses the line between artistically proggy and mind-numbingly dark metal in equal measures.