Undoubtedly, many of you visiting this page will already be familiar with the avant-garde Italian black metal project Derhead, thanks to the increasingly distinctive music captured on a pair of demos and a pair of EPs that have seen release since 2016 (though the project’s existence can be traced back to 2001). But for those who may be newcomers, we’ll disclose that Derhead is the solo work of multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Giorgio Barroccu from Genoa, who is also the founder and co-owner of Brucia Records.
At last, Derhead will be releasing a debut album this month. Entitled The Grey Zone Phobia, it’s a 37-minute opus set for release by the same Brucia Records on March 30th. When you hear it, you’ll discover that Derhead‘s interests have continued to evolve. The label’s preview reports that this time the music has been “contaminated by an incredibly heterogeneous range of sounds spacing from Doom / Gothic Metal to what Satyricon released during the Rebel Extravaganza era.” We’ll also share Derhead‘s summing up of the album’s thematic conceptions:
“The Grey Zone Phobia offers a meditation about the contrasting nature of our place within the cogwheels of time, leading us to contemplate the contrast between reality and our inner self, and between memories and dreams. Lyrics draw inspiration from various sources including the work by philosophers such as Henri Bergson, relativity studies and fuzzy logic, and far from proposing ready-made answers they in fact underline the complexity of our existence, inviting us to go beyond the apparent dichotomy of black and white and on to face the ‘grey area’, which ultimately is life itself.”
With those thoughts in mind, today we present the album’s second song in the running order, “This chaos Is for you only“. It proves to be an archetypal musical tapestry — dense, expansive, and powerful, often like a symphony reaching a crescendo, but filigreed with numerous details that collectively work toward a dire and daunting portrayal.
The song’s opening is intensely foreboding. The sound towers, the guitars sizzling and synths heaving and a voice roaring above immense percussive detonations. It channels a feeling of downfall and agony, and the intensity heightens when the drums start blasting like a weapon, the voice screams, and the guitars writhe in a fever.
The song title promises chaos, and the music delivers, but it sounds like the chaos of terrible despair. The lead guitar itself seems to cry out in pain, and joins in fashioning harmonies of hopelessness.
Near the middle of the song the chaos subsides, and the music rings and wails in solemn haunting tones. A violin-like melody cries out as the music rises up again like a vast panorama of affliction. The music heaves and rolls forward again in a sensation of terrible grandeur, with the drums and the vocals gone mad once more. It all takes the breath away.
Derhead has told us this about the song we’ve just premiered:
“In particular, this song focuses on the concept that each note becomes music only in its duration, and therefore acquires meaning solely in relation to past notes. Consequently music can live only thanks to our memory, and it does not exist in what we consider being our present.
“This is perhaps the most direct and aggressive song on the album, and gradually develops into a final section that states like a mantra that “chaos and music are only for us”, to remind us that every “moment” lives only within ourselves and it is Time that gives meaning to the chaos of existence.”
Two more songs are available for streaming at the Bandcamp page linked below, and they are the songs which appear on either side of the one we’re premiering. Both of them, “The missing stars” and “The death of Now“, employ ingredients similar to those in the song you’ve just heard but to different effect.
True to its name, “The missing stars” sounds like a traumatic celestial event, both awe-inspiring and frightening. There, the vivid, somewhat dissonant, ring of the guitars creates tension and turmoil, and the drum rhythms persistently change, often in head-hooking ways, while the vocals are relentlessly incinerating. But the scale of the event is vast, which makes it all the more scary.
On the other side of “This chaos is for you,” “The death of Now” lures in the listener with astral ambient sounds, and then the song hammers and swirls in suffering. A vibrant bass pulse combines with the backbeat of the drums (and flurries of blasting) to keep the listener’s pulse punching hard, while the song simultaneously creates an instrumentally rich but emotionally devastating sonic whirlpool. Frantic symphonic strings and unhinged guitars join forces with immense low-end power to — once again — steal a listener’s breath away.
We’ve also learned that the album’s striking artwork was made by Cesare Bignotti (who also lent his vision to the previous two releases of Derhead), “using images taken with a long exposure technique similar to what was used with Dadaist and Futurist photography, and films developed without any artificial effects in post-production, in order to tell an honest and transparent story about the place we as human beings occupy within the abstract instance known as Time”.
In addition to writing and performing the music, Giorgio Barroccu also recorded, mixed, and mastered it.
Brucia will release the record in a 6-panel digipack CD format, as well as digitally.