Antediluvian‘s first album in more than eight years is a hydra-headed black/death monster. More than an hour in length, spread across 11 tracks, The Divine Punishment thematically explores ranging manifestations of carnal deviance and perversion, reveling in manifold forms of sexual blasphemy through sound. And what sounds these are!
The heads of this hydra writhe, changing places in your mind’s eye and also joining together to create visions of ultimate horror and depraved ecstasy. The music has an experimental quality, as if searching for the perfect potion of degradation and desire. Its contortions are unpredictable, its effects multifarious, its overarching impact both nightmarishly unnerving and wickedly seductive.
The album defiantly challenges attempts to describe it in conventional terms, though of course we’ll nevertheless throw caution to the winds and add further impressions. But thankfully we also have a full stream of the album just a few days before its September 1 release by Nuclear War Now! Productions.
The music sounds like the product of people operating in the throes of possession. The deep undulations of the bass, the chameleon-like drum patterns, and the kaleidoscopic riffing often seem individually to be off on their own tangents, veering away from each other, but then uniting in the creation of recurring themes that become the hooks which embed themselves and the ropes that bind the listener.
There is profound ugliness in the music, from the horrific abyssal growls to the ear-abrading derangement of the twisted riffs and screaming leads. There are also chilling terrors to be found, crafted from varying collages of void-like ambient sounds and sky-high guitar deliriums that seem to escape from other dimensions. Extravagant choral voices and bursts of brazen, blazing melody create moments of weird and wondrous glory. Crystalline arpeggios slither like silver serpents through booming tom drums and heaving bass lines that have a primitive and primal attraction. Chords chime like bells of glass, and absurdly fleet-fingered soloing radiates mad euphoria. A parade of distorted, diabolical, and tortured voices open all the doors to Hell.
Paroxysms of violence ensue. Pits of hopelessness gape. Asylum inmates huddle in filthy corners intently pulling wings from flies. Creatures of flame levitate. The music becomes hysterically crazed in its representations of lust and pain, and seems to throw grand occult celebrations of appalling transgressions. We are taught the meaning of infernal numbers. A Pandora’s box of pathologies has been opened, and they run rampant.
The changes are unexpected — each hydra head has its own mind. But each change is also vivid, and all the labyrinthine maneuvers repeatedly seize attention, thanks to an approach to production that makes everything stand out with sharp edges, even if some of those edges are viciously serrated. In other words, although the sounds are usually densely layered, elaborately textured, and organized in ways that create horrid abstract portraits, you can focus on every distinct thing if you choose to, unless you choose to simply surrender and allow yourself to become immersed in this hideous and hallucinatory experience. If you do, it’s fair to predict that you won’t hear anything else like it this year, or in any other random year you might select.
You’ve been warned — and hopefully enticed in equal measure.