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Album Review: SCARCITY Aveilut

Album Review: SCARCITY Aveilut

Defining Scarcity as part of “microtonal black metal” is particularly pretentious, because “microtonal black metal” is hardly a genre in the first place. Other than the productive, unhinged machinery of Jute Gyte, the incorporation of microtones (as in musical notes lying between those on the chromatic scale) in black metal is less a new frontier and more a hazy abyss of dissonance and rarity. Experimental black metal is by any standard far from listener-friendly, but multi-instrumentalist Brendon Randall-Myers manages to give threads of light in Scarcity twisted, churning darkness. Yes, Aveilut is technically a 45-minute song divided into five parts. Yes, those 45 minutes of pole vaulting into an avant-garde abyss. But it’s surprisingly easy to get lost in the alien noise.

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Unlike Jute Gyte‘s hyperactive surreal attacks, or Krallicehis insistence on playing two riffs at the same time, Scarcity uses several repetitions to ease the listeners into their sonic turmoil – where the most recognizable feature is the screaming vocals from Doug Moore (also off Pyrrhon). Most of these opening minutes consist of a giant crescendo, like layers of drone waterfalls over amorphous empty-to-empty rolls. This makes the band’s idiosyncratic tone choice the star of the opening cut. The line becomes blurred between a heartbeat guitar pulse and “beats” that stem from the fact that many of these sounds lie between traditional tones. By normal standards, the band plays tuned – but the discordance is not only intentional, but strangely immersive.

Although the whole Aveilut remains cloudy in nature, Scarcity provides a much needed dose of clues. The growling bass and more traditional rhythms make it easier to cope with the stretches in the album’s second movement. The drums cycle through a hypnotic three-count beat, and perform double kick and blast beats to create this microtonal music for head banging. When we talk about blast beats, the alternating explosion gives the last part of the passage classic black metal recognizability to counteract the guitars’ vortex of atonal terror. The Transylvanian hunger vibes are there, but delivered by Cthulhu cult members obsessed with the great ancients.

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In honor of Moore, his banshee-like cooks to cut through in the noise and stand out on their own merits. This will probably come in handy when Scarcity when Aveilutits third movement. Amidst the endless onslaught of double bass and brain-melting anti-melodies, Mooreits vocals help emphasize rhythm changes and ground the riffs in extreme metal instead of pure experimental madness. The same goes for the ultra-slow doom tendencies of the fourth movement, this time adorned with abyss bridges from Moore. Smoldering in the same inferno as Sunn O))) or Bell witch, Randall-Myers creates immersive waves of foreign tones created by alternative moods. In this case, the mind-altering frequencies are given time to breathe and express their unique character – which leads home to the point that Scarcity is deeply methodical in its peculiarity.

The sonic hues Randall-Myers belie uses a catharsis beyond experimentation for its own sake. This is especially noticeable on the 13 minute long last movement. The emotions flow more naturally from a pure ambient intro of tremolo guitars to a mid-tempo double kickbeat, and establish the eerie tonal center of the piece. Scarcity establishes the limits of the music before it is put into high gear. Apart from microtones, the band actually reaches a level of melodicity, as motifs flow in and out of the traditional scale. In her rage against normality, beauty takes root and spreads at various points, all the way up to the oceanic synth landscapes that bring the album to an end.

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Scarcity shows that the microtonal boundary of black metal does not have to be an impenetrable wall of noise. Aveilut not only draws decipherable ideas from this realm of music, but inexplicably ensures that these ideas become memorable beyond their theoretical innovation. If microtonal black metal becomes a micro-genreit is reasonable to speculate Scarcity will become one of the micro-stagewithout micro-gateway band.

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