Beginning on December 1, the Mexican label Throats Productions will release Endless Journey, an album-length split by a beautifully matched pair, two striking atmospheric black metal bands we’ve praised here in the past — Onirism from France, and Pure Wrath from Indonesia. Today we bring you the premiere of two substantial songs from the split, one by each band.
I first came upon Onirism in August of this year, through an advance track from a new EP named Sun, which was released by Naturmacht Productions the following month. That was the second EP released by this project, after The Well of Stars in 2016, a year that also saw Onirism’s release of a debut album, Cosmic Dream. The project is the work of a single creator, Antoine Guibert (aka Vrath), whose work is also present in the music of Catacombes, Hentgarm, KerIfern, and Belenos (with whom he has been a live performer).
When I heard the first music of Sun, I wrote: “Onirism isn’t the first band to combine utterly enthralling and transcendently beautiful sounds with the kind of savagery that makes you want to hide under your bed, but holy hell, they do it well.” And a similar kind of union occurs within this new song from the split, “Astral Forest“.
It’s a substantial piece, almost 11 minutes long, and its intensity builds gradually, reaching a crescendo, subsiding, and building again toward a dramatic finish with a heroic, mythic atmosphere.
The journey begins with a slow, spectral melody, the notes sounding like something between a harp and a piano, accompanied by a swelling, shimmering ambience, by the sound of angelic voices, and by a slow and stately drum rhythm. And the music continues to swell, becoming both grand and increasingly tense, thanks to a high, burning riff, Vrath’s harsh, cruel, strangled voice, and the eventual outbreak of blasting drums.
When the tension breaks, Onirism moves into a digression of darting and swirling acoustic notes and symphonic strings. And when the time comes to fuel the power of the music once again, this time the surge begins with a jolting, jabbing, head-nodding riff and a thumping drum rhythm, and then a long, bright, flaring solo, moving into that sweeping, grand, heart-pumping finish.
We’ve devoted a little more past attention to Pure Wrath (the solo project of Januaryo Hardy from West Java, Indonesia) than to Onirism, beginning with praise for advance tracks from the band’s 2017 debut album Ascetic Eventide, and culminating in my colleague Andy Synn’s pithy haiku review of the album:
Not so much wrathful
As it is reverential
Sombre and sublime
Like Onirism’s track, the one by Pure Wrath that we’re revealing today — “The Darkest Stage of Twilight” — lasts for roughly 11 minutes. It is a splicing of deep melancholy and the astonishment of breathtaking panoramas. Unlike Onirism’s track, it blasts right from the start, a slow, sorrowing melody cascading across the hard drive of the drums, and then soaring in a glorious display of emotional intensity.
But things do become heavier and more brooding as deep tremolo riffs enter the frame along with Ryo’s scalding, anguished shrieks and a bereaved lead-guitar melody. The pace slows, the music becomes a haze of somber sound, and the intensity subsides further, making way for a slow drift of grieving symphonic strings over a rocking drum rhythm and a prominent bass pulse.
You know the music is going to take flight again, but when that happens the experience is even more mesmerizing and transcendent than you might guess, like birds rising above vistas of the natural world stretching away as far as the eye can see. The conclusion of this flight, a solo piano backed by the sound of strings again, is just as beautiful, though in a different way.
Endless Journey will be released by Throats Productions as a digital download on December 1. On December 27th, the label will release the split in 4-panel digipack CD edition limited to 500 copies. And in the spring of 2018, it will release the split on 12″ vinyl limited to 300 copies. A pre-order link is below.
The album is recommended for fans of Saor, Winterfylleth, Vallendusk, Wędrujący Wiatr, Sojourner, Caladan Brood, and Fuath.
1.Onirism – Astral Forest
2.Onirism – Explorer of Celestial Islands
3.Pure Wrath – The Darkest Stage of Twilight
4.Pure Wrath – As the Waves Towards the Shore
Total Time: 40 minutes