Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Twilight - III: BENEATH TRIDENT'S TOMB (Album Review)

Album Type : Full Length
Date Released : 17/3/2014
Label : Century Media Records

III: BENEATH TRIDENT'S TOMB, album track listing :

01. Lungs (03:51)
02. Oh Wretched Son (08:44)
03. Swarming Funeral Mass (07:38)
04. Seek No Shelter Fevered Ones (08:45)
05. A Flood Of Eyes (07:54)
06. Below Lights (04:14)
Bio :

Through its tumultuous existence, Twilight has struggled to define just what it was. Actually, it’s been the public struggling to define the band. Black metal supergroup? The members would scoff at this. Originally started by N. Imperial (Krieg), Wrest (Leviathan, Lurker of Chalice), Malefic (Xasthur), Blake Judd (Nachtmystium) and Hildolf (Draugar), one would argue this being the ultimate kult supergroup. Their debut album was recording by mailing cassette tapes back and forth between the members. Shortly after it was released they announced they broke up. They never played a show and never planned on it. Most of the members refused to do interviews for the project, if that’s what one would call it.

Almost 5 years later a second album was announced, as was new members. Monument to Time End saw Hildolf and Malefic not in the fold but Sanford Parker (Minsk, Corrections House), Stavros Giannopolous (The Atlas Moth) and Aaron Turner (Isis) contributing to the project. Was ‘project’ the best way to describe Twilight? Demand for the band to perform was extremely high though quickly shot down. Promotion again kept to the minimum. Twilight seemed like it was more of an outlet for some of the most creative musicians in the underground to get together and jam than anything else. Did anything else matter?

The Twilight lore started to grow even strong when it was rumored that Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth) had joined the band. Moore had mentioned in interviews his taste for USBM and through mutual friends, was put in touch with Parker. A few months later, N. Imperial, Wrest, Giannopolous, Parker, Moore and Judd got together in a Chicago studio and wrote and recorded III: Beneath Trident’s Tomb. Released as a digipack and LP (1000 pressed worldwide, 700 on purple vinyl, 300 on black) on March 18th, once again it will leave fans wondering what Twilight is. III is much more an experimental album than its predecessors. It’s a dark, uncomfortable listen.

Twilight has already announced they are breaking up, Judd, one of the founding members is absent from the album. In the end, Twilight’s legacy will be shrouded in mystery and debate but whatever Twilight is, band, project or collaboration, they have undeniable released some of the most unique albums in the underground ever

The Band :

N. Imperial | Vocals
Wrest | Drums/Bass/Vocals
Stavros Giannopoulos  | Guitars/Vocals
Sanford Parker | Synths/Electronics/Production
Thurston Moore | Guitar/Vocals

Review :

Twilight are kinda like the Traveling Wilburys of black metal. I hesitate to use the term 'supergroup', but they pretty much full on qualify for it. Their ranks past and present are swollen with luminaries from the field of US BM, but also from more unexpected quarters. Wrest, Imperial, Sanford Parker, one time Aaron Turner and Blake Judd, and for this final outing... Thurston Moore.

That's right, Thurston Moore. He of the Sonic Youth. Which does make for a kool (guffaw) fit when you consider that historically that legendary band's output was primarily centred around the same shrieking manipulation of guitars that can be found within BM. I know it's narrow minded but imagine him in corpse paint. Got that mental image? Good. You're welcome.

On paper it all seems quite the intrigue, like a Poirot mystery but with probably better music. And luckily that translates well to the reality of the situation too, as 'III: Beneath Trident's Tomb' is an unorthodox but fully enjoyable wealth of heavy handed feel. It's not your average black metal record, but what is these days? The genre has become much more than a caricature of itself in modern times, even though I have already made a corpse paint joke (sorry).

'Lungs' has an almost noise rock feel to it in terms of pace, like if Unsane were born of Norway instead of NY. That same sort of slow scrape flows throughout and melds well with Imperial's (Krieg) vocals. And you can really hear those Moore guitars too. I didn't really know what to expect when I approached this, but the more you pick away at the sound the more you can hear his influence. And as the song progresses it definitely seems more of a natural union.

'Swarming Funereal Mass' is slow burning and slinky number, laced with grim and grimy flavours. It's my personal favourite from the LP, speaking to my fondness for keeping a winding but steady pace. Not as heavy or frenetic in any way as some other aspects of 'III', but it still manages to crank up the riffs towards it's finale with some satisfyingly simplistic crunch.

The start of 'A Flood Of Eyes' brings to mind the same electronic experimentalism of the recent Gnaw album, that kind of dying machine wail that scared the shit out of me. As I noted earlier this ain't your momma's BM album, not just a swirling mass of blast-beats and bullet belts. The genre has become so intelligent in recent times and this is proof.  Textured, layered and, well, musical. It's extreme in so much that it really isn't. This soft(ish) approach is quite disarming. For fans of banging heads though it still nails in with some heavy laden drums at times, and it exhibits it's strength through volume and power as opposed to speed. Really good stuff.

It seems a shame that this is the final Twilight album. Not in terms of poor quality, quite the opposite. But if you'll pardon the upbeat tone I am grateful. I hope that they are proud of bowing out with a strong final accomplishment, because they should be. 'III' is dark, menacing and genre boundary pushing. Never judge a black metal book by its cover, and don't expect black metal dogs to be unable to learn new tricks. I hold my hands up and fully acknowledge my more than pleasant surprise. Highly recommended.

Words by : Matt Fitton

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