The first time I heard Agalloch’s “Not Unlike the Waves”, a song that still lives in my head like a cherished companion, I was awe-struck. Even 12 years and countless listens later, it still evokes a powerful emotional response, the kind that simultaneously puts my heart in my throat and also makes me feel as if it’s about to burst from my chest.
As a nearly inviolable rule, I resist the impulse to compare one band’s music to that of another, even though it can be a useful descriptive shorthand, because I fear it might be misinterpreted as a suggestion that the music in question lacks originality, when (usually) that’s not what I would mean to imply at all. But in introducing the song we’re premiering from the new album by Viscera///, I’m violating that rule through the reference to “Not Unlike the Waves”, for what I hope is a good reason.
Allow me to explain.
Like “Not Unlike the Waves”, “Marauder” is a union of disparate factions. The vocals are a mix of knives and moon-glow, rasping snarls and soulful singing, both moody and soaring. There’s mountainous heaviness in the low end, drums that slap your neck and punch your guts, an abrading squall in the feedback whine, a soulful moan in the bass tones, and in the riffs a blend of yearning desperation, hopeful, shimmering visions of what might be, and the pain of blasted hopes.
The music is a calamitous earthquake, an emotional breakdown, fingernails hanging on a cliff-edge, and the dark spell of a black future. And these sensations are perhaps the most to-the-point comparisons with the other song: The music brings emotional power in a very memorable way.
I’m new to the music of Viscera///, despite the fact that their discography is extensive. On the other hand, maybe that’s not a grievous oversight, because their music (based on what I’ve read) has been a constantly evolving enterprise, which began as grindcore, moved into post-metal, started incorporating elements of sludge, and is now in a place where all those ingredients might have found a home — or perhaps some other hyphenated genre description might instead make more sense if we put our minds to inventing one.
I’m not the only one who’s been entranced by the music. The owner of Third I Rex (who’s co-releasing Viscera///‘s new EP with Toten Schwan Records) fell in love with the band long before I discovered them, so much so that he has said his label would not exist without them. The passion they inspired in him, especially through their 2007 album Cyclops, kindled the desire to support this kind of music in the way he has chosen to do. Having now begun to explore the band’s music myself, I understand.
One last thing before I leave you to the song, a quote by the band about this new EP — City of Dope and Violence — and its concept:
“C.O.D.A.V. represents a state of mind trapped in the boredom of a self-absorbed existence. C.O.D.A.V. is the voice of who is witness and victim of such situation, it represents the remorse of who could have done something about it, has done something about, yet nothing has changed.”
Will this song become another treasured companion like that Agalloch song? Ask me in 12 years, if I’m still around. But it well could be — just listen.