Album Title: Nocturnal Poisoning
Label: Blood Fire Death
This is the second full-length album from Xasthur, a one-man American band that plays cold, depressive black metal.
For the most part, the guitar here is a thick, Burzumesque multilayered drone, through which clear riffs occasionally appear. The drums are so low in the mix that they're nearly non-existent, though this is honestly a plus, as they don't break the seemingly endless flow of the music. This release is heavy on the keyboards - one can hear a definite Manes influence in the way they float above the rest of the music, providing a counterpoint for the rest of the music. Vocals are screamed, and seem quite far away when compared to the rest of the mix.
Xasthur's songwriting is very complex. Most of the time, several layers of guitar and sustained keyboards will be sounding, only to be suddenly replaced by a minimalist guitar or key breakdown. Once the breakdown is done, a subtly shifted version of the original melody returns. This style creates a bleak, oppressive atmosphere of inevitable disaster, one that both calms and unnerves the listener.
The production also deserves mention. Some might claim that it's not clear enough, but I would call it absolutely perfect. Quiet sections are perfectly audible, yet once a few more layers of sound are added, the guitar and keys fade together into a wall of echoing noise. Add to this the genius mixing job on the vocals, which seems to set them far beyond this world, and you've got a production that complements the music brilliantly.
I can't praise this album enough. Though the Burzum and Manes influences are quite clearly heard, there's some extraordinary creativity on display here, enough to make this essential for any devotee of raw, depressive black metal. Those who enjoy this should also seek Xasthur's first album, "A Gate Through Bloodstained Mirrors".
Standout Tracks: "In the Hate of Battle", "A Gate Through Bloodstained Mirrors", "A Walk Beyond Utter Blackness"