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Riding atop the recent wave of black metal/noise hybrids who combine the bleak frosty riffs and blackened ferocity of underground BM with blown-out and corrosive strains of industrial noise (see also WOLD, Emit, Grief No Absolution, Enbilulugugal, Vargr), the Australian one-man band Nekrasov has so far made a substantial mark in the realm of extremist necro-racket with a series of limited edition, brutally abrasive albums (Cognition Of Splendid Oblivion, The Form Of Thought From Beast, etc) that have mostly been self-released, save for some recent offerings on labels like Siege Of Power and Chrome Leaf. Early on, Nekrasov's sound was steeped in caustic noise, a blazing industrialized black metal assault that was doused in heavy levels of irradiated distortion and Merzbowian skree. But more recently, it's mutated into less metallic regions, alternating the hyperblast black metal with forays into crushing, demonic wall-noise and blasted ambience. Now, Nekrasov is back with a new full length (the first for Crucial Blast), and it's the most advanced slab of their blacknoize terror that we've heard so far. An octagonal prism of isolationist drone, flesh-rending mechanical black metal, abstract otherworldly beauty, claustrophobic industrial dread, and the most violent, suffocating strains of harsh noise, Extinction is pure cyclonic contempt for humanity.
The eight-song disc combines hyperspeed cybernetic blastscapes and bleak black metal riffage, the tracks often revealing snarled minor key melodies that are buried deep beneath blizzard blasts of machinegun drum machines, the drums veering through nerve-fraying rhythmic shifts, and acidic croaks bathed in black hiss. Triumphant frost-bitten riffs scream out of maelstroms of violent distortion, and Choral voices soar through a cyclone of helicoptering blastbeats and sheets of blown-out, ultra distorted drone, streaked with bits of gorgeous vibraphone-like melody, somber Hammond-like organ drones and looped synth, sometimes breaking off into grinding slo-motion industrial throb or swirling kosimiche drift. The tracks on Extinction go back and forth between the noisier, more industrial like material and overt black metal, though the two sides of Nekrasov's sound are always present together. When the sound does move into pure noise, it's either vast fields of minimal ambient drift, metallic clank and distant percussive sounds, utterly bleak Lustmordian soundscapes, or crushing, almost HNW-style slabs of molten noise, scouring waves of hellish skree and crushing slow-motion tidal surges of jet-black sonic syrup flecked with dubbed-out blasts of tectonic crush and electronic glitches that ripple across the void.
Closing the album, the title track descends even further into black industrial crush, a monstrous, almost seventeen-minute long sprawl of plodding, simple drum pound echoing within a slowly swirling fog of distorted fx, churning, billowing black ambience, buried black buzz, an endless whirlpool of blown-out synthesizers and the immense black breath of leviathan lungs heaving deep below the surface.
Like everything else from Nekrasov, this album is loaded with blasting inhuman drumming and ferocious riffing that form into noise-drenched trance-scapes of bestial industrial BM, but the attention to texture and sound sculpture elevates this above most mechanized black metal projects, with immersive layers of electronic sound, creative stereo panning techniques, and other production tricks that create a harsh, alien atmosphere that is pretty unique to Nekrasov's sound. This is a scorching new chapter from one of our favorite bands out there right now fusing black metal and noise.
The cd version comes packaged in a full color six-panel digipack.
The two early short tracks set up the album's theme in a no-nonsense, defiant way, all engines blasting away with pummelling machine-gun beats, manic vibrato guitar, bone-dry black metal vocals and, on the second track, an angelic chorus that has a cold edge. On "Matter is the Bastard", Nekrasov drops us straight into cold ambient territory of dense howling winds with a pounding beat deep within the storm. The mood becomes sinister and eerie as though an unseen force is waiting patiently for as long as needed for life to dissipate completely so it can roam across the planet. Goin into "Void into Nonvoid", we find the black metal becoming more machine-like as the vocals start merging with the sandstorm noise over insane banging drums, repetitive guitar loops and demented needling beats and rhythms.
"Pre-fetal Non-mantra" is a creepy quiet subterranean number suggesting a rumbling gestation of a dark menace. An explosion occurs that reverberates constantly. The echoes go on and on to the verge of self-indulgence and sometimes the track appears very fragmented with just repeating explosions and echoes. At some point the track appears to fade away, only to come back at you with the force of snarling ghost wolf creatures born of evil winds and atmospheres. A beat bangs away and dust storms reveal chanting sounds.
There's a brief return to black metal and a mix of actual BM singing and treated vocal screams with a tinny edge on track 6. The final two tracks plunge deeply into noise / industrial / ambient soundscapes with track 7 featuring a series of rhythmic explosions from which mournful organ and sirens emerge. A deep bassy rumble bubbles beneath the unusual sound textures. Sounds very much like large-scale warfare and mass annihilation are taking place in earnest across the world. At this point it strikes me as rather funny that organ should be at home in black metal and other underground metal genres, given its traditional church music association. Maybe it's because of that traditional religious association that the organ fits into different metal genres so well - metal represents a world that is the ultimate inversion of the values of traditional Christian religion with its emphasis on hierarchy and authority. Final track "Extinction" has no time for any human-based institutions such as traditional Christianity: it's a bleak trail of constant noise blizzard drone, signifying the complete destruction of humanity, accompanied by a pounding dream beat, quivering tone effects that come and go, and cold sonic winds from which ghostly voices or breathing struggle to emerge.
While the pace ranges from super-fast on the black metal tracks to barely there on "Pre-fetal Non-mantra" in parts, the aggression rarely falters and the general malevolent mood persists across the music. The production varies from raw and blunt to sharp or cold and spacious, often on the same track, giving a sense of depth and the feeling that whatever Nekrasov throws at us, there's always more in his little black bag of tricks he's keeping until last even though by now Nekrasov fans must be very familiar with his style of eclectic experimentation. The only criticism I'd make about "Extinction" (the album) is that the title track varies very little throughout its 16-minute length, given that it's the track everything else has built up so listeners do feel entitled to expect much more from it than continuous blaring noise drone. Perhaps it should have been more demented, like a demon gone berserk once it realises that humanity's destruction, for all the good it does the planet, has left it without anything to play with; or maybe there should have been some actual black metal elements in that track, like BM vocals gabbling away somewhere in the maelstrom, to maintain listener interest.
The overwhelming impression I come away with is that the end of humanity will be a total flattening wipeout with absolutely no survivors. The entire planet will be left a wasteland where storms rage at several hundred miles an hour, scouring the landscapes until continents no longer exist and only bare rock is left. Within the windstorms there may be bone-shaking wraith voices bemoaning the passing of life to any extra-terrestrials curious enough to wander into our planet's neighbourhood, not that they'd want to as their spacecraft would detect toxic levels of radioactivity several hundred million miles away. Volcanoes on Earth spew toxic molten material into the already poisonous and suffocating atmosphere. If this is the vision that Nekrasov has, I'd be amazed if he's still a happy chirpy fellow. It does happen though that the some of the happiest people you meet are the ones with the bleakest, most desolate views of humanity.