Monday, January 17, 2011


Menace Ruine's latest is a frightening exploration of black metal's most outer reaches, right before the genre collapses in on itself and becomes nothing more than blazing fires of white noise. This is 20 minutes of hyper-abstraction, processed into a new sort of neo-industrialism hinted at in the band's former work, now fully embraced for absolute and total immolation into more dissonant worlds and atmospheres. Existing as a black metal band by past associations only, Menace Ruine have always courted a fringe, a caustic overlapping grid where power electronics and icy guitars collide into one another to create something wholly new and terrifying. On "Sigil Sessions" those guitars almost totally disappear and even when they do surface there's nothing that could be even remotely identified as a riff. Instead they're replaced by all manner of electrified debris, maybe even heavily processed field recordings of natural phenomena, rendered into a sound glob of blankness and extraction, a total zone of negation wherein only doubt and inward reflections of anger exist. This is close to total hate music, veering dangerously near the place Whitehouse exists. This is a piece created to instill bad feelings, to create a sense of distress and anguish both.
The EP's high point is closing track "Desert Yourself," seven minutes of pulsating hyper-distorted bass belch, drilling shards of processed feedback, caterwauling guitar dissonance and the laconic, far-away and vaguely lovely vocals of Genevieve. This style of composition was given to entirely on what was arguably the band's finest album (and my favorite) "The Die is Cast"; here it's stripped to the bone, everything unnecessary completely cut away and tossed to die in some muddy, dusted over ditch. Only the vocals create any sense of reprieve or humanity, and even then it's an attitude of cold and indifferent arrogance and elite aristocracy, a further distillation of the Death in June/Current 93 infection that informs the good majority of what Menace Ruine create. "Sigil Sessions" is perhaps the most overt homage to the extreme end of that spectrum; you'd be hard pressed to find any moment in David Tibet's discography that rivals this for sheer violence, but it's obvious where this music derives from. Simple directing of influence has never been Menace Ruine's goal. Instead it's a project focused on and obsessed with transformation, seeing how far the boundaries can stretch, and when they finally break exploring what might lie beyond them. Some uninformed or unadventurous black metal fans might accuse Menace Ruine of creating a stopgap release with "Sigil Sessions"; it's true that it's a difficult and borderline intellectual exercise in expectation and definition. But beyond that it is a simply stunning mutation of black metal aesthetic, a gauntlet thrown down in the name of reinvention and unbridled creativity and another pivotal, essential release from one of the genre's most inventive and challenging artists.

No comments: