Afflicting the Dichotomy of Trepid Creation
posted on 1/2011 By:
San Francisco’s Pale Chalice plays relatively stripped-down black metal that, unlike so much USBM, doesn’t attempt to get you to think or analyze too much. It’s actual black metal: it blasts, speeds, gets dissonant and ambient, occasionally slugs, and fires away its filth without flair or pretention. Afflicting the Dichotomy of Trepid Creation is the band’s debut release. The 29-minute EP, while refreshing in its single-mindedness, often gets bogged down in attempts at compositional complexity. It nonetheless reveals a young band with a fair amount of promise.
The music of this EP focuses primarily on that dirty tone, augmenting it with shifting songs and some serious gurgle-murk vocals. Despite their somewhat meandering nature, Pale Chalice still shows flashes of greatness. One such passage dominates much of “Command of the Formless,” implementing a sort of catch-and-release riff style while alternating phrases between major chords and harsh dissonances with surprising deftness. Others include upbeat, almost rocking sections of that same song and excellent tremolo constructions in “Caressed by a Feeble Flame.” These parts instantly demand attention, but as soon as they finish you may find yourself wondering how you, and the band, got to that point in the first place. The transitions are more indifferent than they are awkward, rendering successive passages obsolete as opposed to using them to push a song forward.
The riff-craft on Afflicting the Dichotomy of Trepid Creation is solid-to-excellent and the performances are competent, but the EP loses major steam through the arrangements. The faults that Pale Chalice exhibits are plainly frustrating but could also be easily fixed, and the band’s ability to do so will determine where they go from here. This certainly offers more potential than it will repeated spins, but I for one will be curious to hear what they come up with next.
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