Sunday 11 May 2014

Review of "Sacred White Noise" by Thantifaxath

Sweet Lord, this album is terrifying…

It begins with an organ – the most dissonant, horrifying organ freakout conceivable. For twenty long seconds this organ rings out through the speakers. It is then abruptly replaced by a skittering lone guitar. Its chromatic riff plays out like a spider in a bath tub. The drums and bass haven’t even entered the mix yet but they will, any second now. You, the listener, are shitting yourself in fearful apprehension. Well, maybe not you personally but I, for one, shat myself whilst listening to this album. Multiple times.

Just look at these fuckers. Pure evil

Sacred White Noise is the debut full-length album by Canadian black metallers, Thantifaxath. The identity of the band members is unknown. They wear hooded robes and stuff when they perform live to conceal their true appearance. Personally I don’t think they’re human beings at all. I think they’ve journeyed here from a distant volcanic world devoid of sunlight. They’re here to show us what real fear is.

Fear and beauty. As frighteningly dissonant as many of the melodies are, they’re also deeply-moving in how sweetly melancholy they are. The band also know when to strip things back, to slow things down, whilst still keeping a captivating level of tension. “Eternally Falling” creates a vast empty landscape mid-way through the album, lacking almost entirely in percussion, making room for a sad, eerie chord progression. This track is followed by “Panic Becomes Despair” in which the music then plummets back into atonal, tremolo-picked chaos.

For a black metal record, the production is fairly clean. You can really hear and appreciate the interplay between the bass and guitar as they spiral madly amongst one another. Brutal, mid-range screams make up the vocals, the snarl on the end of each utterance similar to Obituary’s John Tardy. It’s cool to hear a black metal record in which some of the lyrics can actually be interpreted. The screams of “WHERE ARE YOU???!!!” during the final track make for a particularly unsettling listen. 

With its ever-changing contrasts between loud and soft, fast and slow, beautiful and ugly, Sacred White Noise remains constantly engaging whilst never feeling disorganised or poorly structured. It’s a perfectly engineered, artfully atmospheric thrill ride and one of the most enjoyable black metal records I’ve heard in a long time.