Feb 102015


(Austin Weber reviews the debut album by a unique black metal band from the Bay Area named Mastery.)

Looking into 2015, I figured it was going to be a slow January for me, and here I sit with an absurd number of bands to write about, one of whom is a California one-man black metal act called Mastery and its first full-length, VALIS — an obvious nod to Philip K. Dick, one of my favorite authors of all time. Islander wrote about the absolutely massive and maddening 17+ minute album opener entitled “V.A.L.I.S.V.E.S.S.E.L”, but that’s just the beginning. Sole member Ephemeral Domignostika must be operating on a totally different demented level because Mastery is unlike any other black metal band I’ve ever heard. Once you hear the album, it becomes baffling to conceive that all of this was performed by one person playing every instrument and performing all the vocals, too.

Mastery’s greatest strength lies in its chaotic and stitched-together-sounding nature. It all coalesces together in spite of its choppy flow and the endless stream of new sections spitting forth from the vale. I don’t think I’ve ever heard black metal taken to such a furious zenith of intensity. It almost shouldn’t work — the swirling mix and match between old school black metal riffing, angular grooves, tortured dissonance, bizarre, almost mathy riffs, surprise interludes, alien warped lead guitar clusters, and the absolutely off-the-wall way it all comes together in one massive swirling murk. Continue reading »

Jan 112015


Here’s Part 3 of a weekend effort to catch up on what I missed late last week. Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here. I might have one more installment tomorrow morning, unless I suffer an attack of laziness.


Mastery (not to be confused with the Toronto thrash band of the same name) is the solo black metal project of Ephemeral Domignostika of Bay Area black metal groups Pale Chalice and Pandiscordian Necrogenesis . The Flenser will be releasing Mastery’s debt album VALIS on February 17 and recently premiered an advance track named “V.A.L.I.S.V.E.S.S.E.L.”

The song is more than 17 minutes long. Almost all of it is a flame-throwing mindfuck — a berserker blastwave of boiling-in-oil vocals, maniacal drumming, shrieking guitar dissonance, and frenzied bass lines. Except for an unexpected acoustic breather, it’s always just a hair’s breadth away from coming apart at the seams, but I found myself in its grip. Maybe I was just waiting to see if it could succeed in melting down my headphones into a pile of slag. Continue reading »