If you are familiar with the catalogue of raw black metal assembled by the one-person Portuguese band Irae, then you will have some idea what to expect from the band’s new EP, intriguingly titled Dangerovz Magick Zpells from the Mesziah of Death — but you will likely still be surprised. The music is in many ways as idiosyncratic as the title, and its effect on the mind is confounding.
Like much of raw black metal, and perhaps especially that produced by the Portuguese cults, the music is willfully abrasive — yet this EP still manages to be enthralling. The moods are often harrowing in their displays of inner torment, but equally capable of reaching heights of tortured grandeur. The garage-band sound of the drums is primitive, but the beats are invigorating and head-hooking. The songs generate auras of blood-freezing, supernatural terror, but somehow still harbor beckoning, magical melodies that are spell-like and seductive.
We have further, more detailed, thoughts below about the fascinating contrasts within these unsettling yet beguiling compositions, which are not soon forgotten, but we also have a premiere stream of the EP for you, in advance of its June 24 release by Signal Rex.
Divided into four parts (and that’s how the tracks are titled), the EP alternates between songs in the 5-6 minute range and long-form tracks in excess of 10 minutes, making for a substantial EP lasting more than half an hour. The songs narrate a story about an old mad wizard who made a deal with supernatural forces to conquer the world, written and adapted in a sub-language that Irae’s Vulturius invented. “Imagine you’re possessed and don’t talk things right and give a new formula to things that already exist,” he explains.
The four tracks share certain common qualities, both abusive and enticing, but also include divergences.
Many of the common qualities are revealed in the EP’s opening Part. It begins with an abrasive droning guitar, eerie ringing keyboards, and ghastly screaming vocals that signal a garroted throat splitting apart in torment. It includes shifting drum patterns that gallop, cavort, pound, and blast, and soaring waves of anguished melody that are celestial but corroded, sweeping yet severely distraught. As ear-scalding as this amalgam of sounds is, they still have the capacity to make you feel swept away, feeling simultaneously thrilled but tortured. Only the drumming makes the music seem earthbound — everything else dwells in a realm of night where evil spirits take to the skies and pitiful humans huddle in fear.
In its ingredients the long Part II is similar, though wolfish howls rise up along with those shattering shrieks, but the vast cascades of melody (which often sound like massed horns filtered through heavy-grit sandpaper) feel even more magisterial and even more tragically hopeless, though the immense wailing waves of sound also rise and writhe with feelings of yearning and despair, and the burning heat of those sensations, coupled with the visceral pulse of the percussion, will keep your heart-rate high. It’s a relentlessly intense experience, made even more electrifying when the trilling harmonies of heart-broken guitar pierce through the maelstrom in such gripping fashion in the song’s closing minutes that any thought of leaving early will be banished.
Part III is a striking course-change. You will hear half-spoken, half-singing vocals before the strangled screaming begins again, and the ringing. glimmering, and balalaika-like melodies draw influence from moody post-punk. The bouncing bass and snapping back-beats will likely make your head nod, and the melodies are enticing, dreamlike, even romantic — but the screeching and wolf-toned vocals sound just as wretched and frightening as ever.
The closing Part (the second long track) returns to the style of the first two Parts, searing the mind with dense tides of anguish intertwined with sounds of beseeching and of diminishing hopes. But here, beautiful, crystalline ambient motifs drift upward in mesmerizing fashion along with the sparkling trill of guitar leads that again seize attention immediately. There’s enough variation in the song’s progression — variations in mood and tonal texture — that interest doesn’t wane despite the track’s significant length. At times, the music’s intensity and pacing ebb, and elements of dark post-punk surface in the beats and the chords, generating a feeling of troubled introspection — and then the song whirls and swirls again, so despairing but so magnetic.
Signal Rex will release this new EP on six-panel digipak CD format and on cassette tape; the tape edition will also be available through BlvckKvffee Rex, based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.