In recent years, there seems to be an overabundance of new “hordes” emerging who take a decidedly newer (read: French/Icelandic) approach to black metal – meaning that they employ more complex, dissonant, discordant and massive riffage as opposed to the more “kvlt” tremolo picked power chord based finger slide techniques preferred by the pioneers of the genre. Raw drum (non-)production, where all you can (and really need to) hear is the hi-hat and the occasional cymbal smashing has been abandoned in favor of a clearly defined, dare I say pristine drum sound, where nigh a double kick stroke will go unheard. The only problem with this trend is that a rather large amount of uninspired, bland and sterile releases have beset us listeners, where all too often lazy and unmemorable riff work is presented, disguised in a massive production job, interspersed with the occasional eerie ambient/atmospheric passage performed by hooded (and frequently cloaked) super serious occultists who seem more interested in esoteric literature (you know, that random grimoire/spell book PDF-file you have gathering dust on your obscure nekro external hard drive) than crafting actual engaging music. While a serious approach to one’s art is not something to smirk at, in some cases it just becomes rather tedious. Luckily, such is not the case with Switzerland’s DSKNT.
Consisting of a Deus Mortuus from void fiends Antiversum on vocals as well as Asknt handling everything else (who plays in a wide range of Swiss acts and was formerly in the utterly brilliant Necrosemen), DSKNT has managed to craft a truly excellent, majestic piece of music on PhSPHR Entropy. Opting for a slightly less generic thematic approach than your typical black-magic-practicing-robe-clad adherents to the left hand path, PhSPHR Entropy sounds like it was molded by obscure void forces in the farthest depths of the universe and bestowed upon us earthlings through a cataclysmic occurrence beyond human comprehension. Sure, the jangly, layered, slightly dissonant yet somehow hypnotic guitar melodies occasionally employed on this album may be lifted directly from the Svartidauði et al. playbook, but what sets DSKNT apart from the staggering amount of Icelandic scene imitators is the way they approach composition and arrangement of their songs.
Everything here is done with a distinct purpose, which shows just how much inspiration and effort was put into crafting these songs. There is a palpable darkness at play here, a darkness that is deeper and more disturbing than simply donning Luciferian sigils on album artwork. No, dear reader, DSKNT is more interested in the inner workings of a colossal black hole than necromancy. And it is a welcome change of pace. Take, for instance, Kr. Vy. Portals. The way the guitars are layered and the slow, trancelike drumming approach that start out this monstrous track actually sound like the opening of a vast, cosmic gateway. The most impressive thing about this is that the band manages to accomplish this effect through composition and quality riff work as opposed to lazy sampling or mere synthesizer atmospherics. DSKNT’s somewhat otherworldly approach is exacerbated by Deus Mortuus’ vocal approach, which while not completely deviating from genre conventions, is rather engaging and employed to great complementary effect with the band’s compositions, as displayed around the mid-point of the mind melting title track PhSPHR Entropy or, quite possibly my favorite moment on the entire album, the strange gurgling at the beginning of S.O.P.O.R. This shit is just delicious.
The music on PhSPHR Entropy is enhanced by its hypnotic and original artwork – another rarity in a genre plagued by vaguely dark and bleak artwork.
Seriously, you can just stare at it for the entire runtime of the album and when you finish, restart and study the lyrics. Portals of black light emerge… For all its musical density and compositional competence, however, some passages on PhSPHR Entropy seem to drag on just a little bit too long for their own sake. Luckily, these moments are far and few between. This is in no small part due to the excellent drum work presented here, which is not only utterly punishing and furious, but musical and diverse. Indeed, actual composition of drum lines is something extreme metal needs a lot more of. The only real issue I have with PhSPHR Entropy is that the overall mix seems just slightly overcompressed at times – an issue I hope will be resolved when this monolith finally sees a vinyl release.
Overall, DSKNT have presented us with a brilliant debut that is truly an excellent addition to an otherwise only mildly engaging Swiss extreme metal scene. Any and all void spiritualists should seek out this album and study it with fervor. The gates have been blasted wide open and the swarm of nebula is finally upon us…
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