Labyrinth Entrance – “Monumental Bitterness” (Godz Ov War Records)
It takes a while to discover quite which direction Labyrinth Entrance are moving in. All six songs on this debut album are called ‘Canto’ and the eerie intro ‘Canto 0’ followed by the early shapes cast by ‘Canto I’ give little away. But eventually the canvas unfurls on ‘Canto I’ to reveal an expansive black sonic shroud of darkness which proceeds to reach out its crooked claws to scratch away the top layer until the true feeling and force of this fine piece of work starts to penetrate through the decay and gloom.
Labyrinth Entrance is yet another solo venture from a Polish black metal craftsman, this time around it’s the work of Hunger who some readers may be familiar with for his work with Stillborn and Horror of Naatu. The inspiration behind the album lies with Dante Alighieri’s iconic 14th century poem ‘The Divine Comedy’ that explored the afterlife through Dante’s torturous triumvirate of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven.
‘Canto I’ develops into a well-paced eight-minute composition full of interest and imagination that leaves you waiting for the next twist and turn. Vocally its deep growls, slow rather than fast, creating a demonic demeanour throughout. That sense of impending doom is magnified further on ‘Canto II’ although the vocals are held back allowing the music to tell its own mournful story. A scissored attack midway through signals a change is imminent, the repetitive mind-spinning groove supplemented by some jostling before the doleful journey continues, with a near flourish of Eastern mysticism at one point acting as a dynamic punctuation mark.
It returns on the rousing charge ‘Canto III’ which boasts a persuasively percussive foundation on top of which some darting riffage bounces along quite merrily with Hunger interjecting when the mood takes him with some suitably aggressive barks before the fever rises towards a crushing crescendo in the midst of which the blastbeats fall like hail stones and the riff patterns take on an even more dynamic formation.
An almost siren like riff screeches out at the dawn of ‘Canto IV’ in which Labyrinth Entrance again hit the peaks with some soaring instrumental work and increasingly fraught roars from the depths of Hunger’s gut. Musically there’s so much to appreciate about Monumental Bitterness, which holds your attention from ‘Canto 0’ through to the climactic untamed pounding beast that is ‘Canto V’.
If you’ve ever heard of Hunger Pains? Well Labyrinth Entrance takes things to a whole new level with this intense but rewarding release.