Pestilential Shadows - _Depths_
(Seance Records, 2011)
by: Dan Lake (7 out of 10)
If some of black metal's more dominant players forged their various sounds into modular robotic lions, Pestilential Shadows could be their black metal Voltron. (Maybe you assumed Twilight held that position. You'd be wrong.) Arms, legs, torso, and head: each vital appendage sparks with the myriad ideas available in the world of grime and blast beats. "Lost Geists of the Sunlight Sphere" alone offers Krallice-level speeds, Xasthuresque drear, and that sweet Scandinavian chill. Nothing is absent, and everything is permitted.

As with the best of the genre, there is a majesty in _Depths_ that rises not from any symphonic ambitions but from inspired choices of chords, tempos and production values. A few songs here stumble into the realm of the unremarkable, mostly during the album's second half, but the band's first-rate instincts are apparent over the great majority of the recording are admirable. Instrumental performances nail down a vibe of aggravated depression, and Balam's vocal tragedies scrape out of the rear of the mix like the cries of an abandoned captive out of some bleak-ass ice cave. "Tribulations of Man" is a simple, mid-paced workout kissed by fleeting moments of choral magnificence. "Choirs Beyond the Blackened Stars" nudges the throttle forward but tempers its intensity with echoing background chants in place of the customary anguished rasps. "Shrine" opens with nearly two minutes of sorrow-toned strumming, then blazes furiously through the next five. "Putrid Earth" seduces with classy, hypnotic riffs, and the title track closes the record with as much grace and poise as you're likely to hear from a black metal band this year.


(article published 6/5/2012)

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