Release DetailsLABEL Candlelight
RELEASED ON 6/14/2006
The Near Death Experience
posted on 7/2006 By:
There’s nothing wrong with sonic dismemberment through raw minimalism. I can appreciate the art of dissonant black metal that defies boundaries while staying true to the core formula. With Spektr’s The Near Death Experience, the startlingly raw production is the first and most prevalent impression this album makes, somewhat unpleasantly if caught at the right/wrong time. Considering the admirable production jobs usually found on Candlelight releases, the dehydrated nature of the sound that comes screaming forth is polarizing in every sense of the word, and unfortunately is an ever-present focal point on this disc. Those of you who hate bare bones production will not find anything to enjoy here, but those who are drawn to the harsh and unyielding aural scraping this style provides will probably take at least a passing interest in this album, if not adore it.
It’s a style thing. Fine. To be honest, the thought of listening to this with headphones on is something I’d only recommend to those who love all things as necro and difficult to listen to as possible. Perhaps if the songwriting was a bit more substantial, things would be a little more appealing to those of us with a lower pain threshold, soundwise. All is not lost, however, and as a mood piece, this album is quite good. Spliced between the thin tremolo and somewhat average cold black metal arrangements there are long passages of interesting sound effects and samples which actually sound like something of higher conceptual design than the empty, pointless filler found on many other dissonant black metal albums…most of the time. Mid-paced, often quite brooding, and kaleidoscopic in harmonic textures, bits and pieces of subtle but noticeable shifts in tone help maintain a mercurial, yet roughly strewn atmosphere. These pieces are not always the wisest, as the static and distortion littered along the disc is an annoying distraction, and some of the samples are a little out of place.
When The Near Death Experience comes together cohesively, it can make for a very enjoyable listen if you’re into this sort of thing. There’s a jagged, utterly perverse loveliness, a rather demented poise that keeps things at a certain level of constant uncertainty. At various points, percussion, ringing guitar, and a full, clean bass each spend a moment or two in the crimson spotlight, very briefly employing almost freakishly-placed, minimalist jazz in places where jazz would never normally be implemented. It works in an un-catchy way, and at the same time, again, the appeal is somewhat limited in range. Things do drag here and there, and the songs flow in such a manner that makes it hard to determine if questionable songwriting is the reason why the music itself sounds so sloppily executed, or if musicianship is just flat-out loose as a goose on juice by nature. Maybe it’s an intentional style thing, but I can’t think of many bands who use bad timing as an expression of art. It only happens early in the disc, but you can’t help but notice when it happens, and luckily, it doesn’t with any extremity.
If one thing is for sure, this album is a grower, and not an easy one at that. There are some people who will love something like The Near Death Experience for the exact same reasons why some will hate it. You can just as easily call it advanced, and you can claim it to be primitive. There’s a strange balance between avantgarde progression and disharmonious nihilism being struck here by this French two-man black metal project, and I for one am passingly interested if not somewhat repulsed with the wretchedly produced results Spektr have shown. This is one for the niche crowd, I’m sure, and a nice tide-over until whenever the next Axis Of Perdition ever comes out.
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