Oct 192023

(Strigoi‘s new EP is set for release by Season of Mist on November 3rd, and so it’s a good time for DGR to share his thoughts about it — which he does here.)

The trend in recent years of bands collecting all of the material that did not make it into an album’s main sequence and releasing it on an EP later is one that I’ve particularly enjoyed. There’s a variety of reasons why songs won’t make the main cut, whether it be that the band felt they didn’t quite fit, or they were set aside for various global demands – some markets often requiring extra songs, for instance – or others were jammed onto the end of an album for deluxe editions released alongside the regular albums.

Whatever the reason may be, in recent years you’ve stood a pretty good shot of those songs being just as good as the ones on the main album, so when a band is later able to compile those into an EP of some sort, then the purchase is near guaranteed.

Strigoi are the latest to hop on that particular bus with their new collection of Bathed In A Black Sun, comprising five songs that didn’t make it onto the crawling doom of Viscera last year, and now about to be released into the wild.

Listening to Bathed In A Black Sun, you can hear why these five didn’t make the jump into the album, not because they’re lesser in quality but more for the first reason stated earlier on – they didn’t quite fit within the suffocating world of Viscera. Instead, Bathed In A Black Sun is more representative of the other part of the Strigoi monster — the one that likes to move fast, is surprisingly punchy and death-metal leaning, and loves itself a good d-beating when the situation calls for it.

Strigoi‘s career started out with the expansive Abandon All Faith, which was an album that allowed Greg Mackintosh and cohort Chris Casket to reach much wider than they had in previous projects. They kept to a core of crustier and sludgier death metal with a helping of doom-passages that always stayed close to the heart, but they were willing to throw in some industrial backbone, a little bit of punk, and you can see where this is going.

Abandon All Faith is a big album, not just by run time and tracklisting but also because the songs ran huge and unchecked. It worked for the most part and made it so that the loss of an increasingly strong Vallenfyre project hurt a little less, but the pitfalls of unchecked artistic reign are enormous, and even an album like Abandon All Faith tripped in a few of them with those big songs becoming a blur sometimes. Broken out individually, they’re all enjoyable and mean as hell, but a whole journey was definitely one that you had to saddle up for.

We dove into it around its release date in case you want deeper thoughts or are curious why we’re bringing it up in direct comparison to its much more singularly focused and miserable younger sibling Viscera – especially when we’re discussing an EP released after said sibling.

Bathed In A Black Sun plays out like the bridge between the two releases is why, resurrecting a lot of the faster elements that were on Abandon All Faith that didn’t quite fit the stunningly oppressive Viscera. Three of the songs here are sub-three minutes and the two that go over the four-minute mark could be considered ‘slow’ by this EP’s standards – “A Spear Of Perfect Grief” threads the needle – but still would’ve been among the quicker songs that Strigoi have put out in the past few years.

If you were lucky enough to get in on the early-released single of “The Construct Of Misery” then you had a preview of about 80% of what Bathed In A Black Sun has in store for you. The fast and blastbeat-heavy single is when Strigoi ride high on being a death metal group and they’re damned good at it. Forty-two sconds of “Beautiful Stigmata” in the middle of Bathed In A Black Sun hammers that point home, and “The Grotesque” pairs up nicely with it.

They don’t shatter the walls of any particular genre formulation on those songs but the crew that make up Strigoi these days know exactly how to cook up a fine meal with known ingredients, and those three songs make that point clear. They were too fast, too punk, or too circle-pit-heavy for what Viscera was going for but the wall-of-flame annihilation style of writing would’ve been perfect just prior to it. Hence, it seems like Bathed In A Black Sun is part bridge, part exorcism for the band because you sense that Strigoi will always have that big pit-riff bubbling up just inside them and they have to unleash it somehow.

“Bathed In A Black Sun” itself is built around a pulsating electronic backbone, a constant and ever-present heartbeat that sounds like a series of valves slowly breaking down. It is markedly slower and would’ve been a solid transition point into the Viscera-era of the band. Strigoi slowing things down for a percussive beating and big, jangled rhythms that echo like thunder in the distance is a trademark. “Bathed In A Black Sun” is more of that; monstrous vocals in tow and large, rumbled guitar is the order here – ever-present thudding in the background being the constant. If you were to remember nothing else other than the dragged out “Bathed in a black sun” vocal line within the song, a solid bet would be the pulsating rhythm that opens it and continues right up until the song fades out.

“A Spear Of Perfect Grief” – a fantastic title – on the other hand, truly does thread the needle. If you wanted to hear the sudden conflagration of “The Grotesque” cycle back around, then “A Spear Of Perfect Grief” is a lot of those ideas pushed out further and expanded like a balloon. It’s a tad slower but so bass-guitar-driven that it rattles buildings around it. It’s the song where people who’ve been wondering where Strigoi‘s genre-description of crustier influence comes from finally get their answer. You get that solid punk drum beat spilling over into heavy metal gallop all the way into noisy-ass guitar solo as the full blueprint of the song. The time where it resembles something that might’ve fit into Viscera is right about the mid-section wherein the guitar tone becomes near overwhelming and carries its way into a sinister lead for a closer.

Bathed In A Black Sun really does feel like the recording studio exorcism of all the faster elements of Strigoi finally being unleashed upon the general public. We loved Viscera here but it is a slow, ominous beast of an album. Viscera is an album about suffocating atmospheres and miserable songs, slowly crawling through the mud and grime with a perfectly fitting album art to match. Any of these songs would’ve felt like the imaginary protagonist of any one of those songs being tied to the back of a truck and dragged down the freeway by comparison.

Taken on its own, Bathed In A Black Sun is the quicker moving pack of songs that would go over incredible live if not just for the fact that they’re built out of easy-to-understand and translate circle pit riffs and punk sections, barring its ominous opener of a title track. It’s an enjoyable EP from a band who do great at shaking the foundations of the venues they’re in already.

Strigoi‘s career is playing out to be one of those multi-headed monsters constantly combatting over who gets their turn in the spotlight, and truthfully, it may be difficult to tell just what springs out of the crew next. Our only solid bet right now is that it is probably going to stomp a crater into the ground wherever the Strigoi crew finally land.



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