Many fans of black metal, or other other metal genres, have heard descriptive references to music within such genres as “theatrical”, an adjective that may connote a sense of the dramatic, of the elaborate, or perhaps of the grandiose and bombastic. But Canada’s The Projectionist has elevated their formulation of black metal to a level that literally is theatrical.
The band’s forthcoming fifth album, The Stench of Amalthia, is a full-concept operetta which tells a horrifying story, making use of an array of voices to play the characters in the nightmarish tale the band have crafted, and all of it destined for the kind of full theatrical stage performance for which The Projectionist have already become known.
In advance of the album’s release by Moribund Records on April 17th, today we’re presenting a track that occupies a pivotal place in the record’s fiendishly conceived narrative. You could listen to and appreciate “A Startling Housecall” without knowing anything about the scene it portrays or the album’s narrative as a whole, but this is an instance of music that really requires context. And so let’s begin with a description of the album’s story, and of what happens in this scene in particular.
As crafted by The Projectionist‘s mastermind Lord Matzigkeitus, this new operetta is described as a tale of a dying former Film Noire starlet, Amalthia Grahame, who is isolated in her palatial home. “Her physician, Dr. Bendix, sends a young nurse named Evelyn to tend to Amalthia’s final days, as a live-in nurse for palliative care. When left alone with the old withering actress, gruesome and macabre events unfold to wield death, torture and satanic forces against the poor fragile Nurse… and all who’d call upon the Mansion looking for her”. The band pose these alluring questions which will be answered by the end:
“Why has Nurse Evelyn become so weak? What is the story behind the shadowy Dr. Bendix? Who is Amalthia Grahame… and why do people around her keep dying?”
As for what happens in the scene depicted in the track we’re premiering today, we turn to Lord Matzigkeitus:
“‘A Startling Housecall’ is the pivotal moment of this black opera…
“After receiving a disturbing cry for help from the nurse he sent to care for Amalthia in her twilight years, Dr.Bendix goes to her palatial home to investigate.
“Upon opening the door, he finds a lavish party scrawling across his senses; ball gowns, tuxedoes and champagne flowing. With Amalthia at the center of the room…. but she’s a young lady of twenty again! This cannot be!
“The good doctor is agape at what unfolds before him. Amalthia rudely ends the scene by asking him to have some champagne, and be on his way…
“The high tension of the album comes to a boiling point immediately after as Amalthia is revealed as an insidious conjuror.”
And now, with the setting of the scene, we can turn to the music.
An amalgam of eerie, shivering guitar frequencies over rumbling drums provides the backdrop for an exchange between acidic, skin-melting shrieks and a distraught female voice calling for help. The music creates an atmosphere of tension and fear, and then leaps ahead with snapping snare and juddering double-bass, of pulsing bass guitar and demented riff frenzies that bespeak increasing madness. More voices enter this frightening pageant, none of them calculated to put your mind at ease, along with sound effects and a demented piano melody that eventually seems to teleport back to a century-lost dancehall. As the metal music resumes, a flickering and fiery lead trills a melody of crazed ecstasy over rampant drumming, and then Amalthia speaks her lines with a devilish laugh.
Moribund Records will release The Stench of Amalthia on CD and cassette formats on April 17th. For more info, check the links below. Also below you’ll find streams of two previousluy released tracks, “Covetous” and “Perfumes“.