The German black metal trio CNTMPT made their debut with a self-titled album in 2014, and are now about to return with a new full-length named Towards Neglect, which will be released by Into Endless Chaos Records on December 17th — and today we present a full stream of the record, along with comments about each of its tracks.
The music on Towards Neglect is almost entirely instrumental. Like the music itself, the voices that can be heard, often distantly, seem to be sounds from another world, barely human. And there is indeed a sense in the music that it is crashing into our dimension from a different one where, as the label accurately forecasts, light and fire intersect with darkness and ice. The emotional intensity is devastating — almost overwhelming — and the instrumental performances are equally intense in their explosive athleticism.
But things don’t begin that way. Instead, “Ascend Through Winds” opens the record with a haunting and hypnotic acoustic guitar instrumental that straddles a line between sorrowful and bright. As you’ll discover, sorrow is a persistent feature of the album, though it is usually expressed in much more wrenching, and even terrifying, form.
The first most fully realized sign of where CNTMPT have planted their flag in the domains of black metal comes with “Site of Vastness“, in which a shrieking pick slide leads to lunacy. The opening riff is dissonant, ominous, and disturbing, and then rapid-fire jabbing strings lead into a searing melancholy riff over a slow, methodical drum beat. As the drums begin blasting the guitars surge to a frenzy of luminous pain and a mesmerizing lead melody that ripples with anguish and yearning, backed by a surging bass line and blazing-fast drum work. The song seems to end — and then becomes an interplay of slow, ghostly guitar reverberations and moody bass notes, only to explode in a truly incinerating display of light-speed drum blasting, roiling riffage, insectile fretwork, and wrenching howls and cries.
Dark and heavy currents of storming sound undergird “Gravity“, yet the voices and the riffing soar in a way that’s majestic (and you’ll again notice the remarkable vibrancy of the bass, which is one of many admirable features in all these tracks). The song also becomes immensely intense, bridging a line between warlike ferocity and deep anguish, as if we’re hearing the soundtrack to a charge of warriors giving their all, as memorialized in some great saga, rushing toward their certain doom. You might imagine different scenarios as you listen, but there’s no denying the song’s emotional power.
Although “Fire Theurgy” begins in a brighter mood, it too becomes a blood-rushing and exalted experience. Essentially one extended instrumental performance, save for some caustic shrieking near the end, it begins in a fleet-fingered and fast-footed rush that will send your pulse into overdrive, and ends in much the same way. But the music also works through different changes, slowing a bit for a short time, and becoming even more richly textured. I’ll venture to say that few people could resist becoming wholly enveloped by what’s happening, and equally fewer could reach the end without becoming wide-eyed and grinning from ear to ear.
Astutely, given what’s going to happen before the album ends, the band then present “The Arrival“, another sublime acoustic guitar instrumental, folk-like in its style and as soft and wistful as the preceding tracks were emotionally incinerating.
Gleaming notes of plaintive electric guitar strumming begin “Wyrd” — by far the longest track on the album — but the intensity soon begins to build, and the music becomes more desolate and devastating, until the bass and drums start firing on all cylinders and the guitars become a rushing whirlpool of darkness, with ghostly wails, angry roars, soul-flensing cries, and lightning-bright leads rising through the electrifying maelstrom of sound in a way that channels a kind of anguished madness. It’s the kind of unrelentingly intense vocal and instrumental surge that sets all your nerves tingling, your fast-twitch muscles spasming, and your lungs gasping for air, wholly enveloped, wide-eyed, by the storming torrent of sound.
It would not have been surprising, in a 14-minute track, for the band to incorporate some kind of breather, some diversion to break the brazen intensity of the assault on the senses, but they chose instead to be unsparing, perhaps as a test of just how much adrenaline your body is capable of pumping out, as well as a test of their own physical stamina.
While “Wyrd” provides no break, it’s the final track, “Magical Herbs” that does so, surrounding the listener’s mind in a shimmering mist of ambient tones, an otherworldly and beguiling experience, but one that is itself, like so much of the album as a whole, a sensation steeped in sorrow.
This is an ambitious album, and one that is so overflowing with genuine passion that the intensity I’ve referred to (over and over again) is highly communicable. It is indeed dark music, but full of fire as well — and we hope you enjoy it as much as we have.