Epistasis - _Light Through Dead Glass_
(Crucial Blast, 2014)
by: Dan Lake (7 out of 10)
For such a left-field underground band, New York's Epistasis boast quite the roster of respected talent. Drummer Alex Cohen also bends space-time with tech-blasters Pyrrhon, and vocalist/trumpeter Amy Mills has lent her talents to NYC black metallers Castevet and related project Psalm Zero. We should hope that such résumé highlights might lure listeners to _Light Through Dead Glass_, because once it's heard, positive attrition rates won't rely on the aforementioned qualifications at all. _Light_ proves to be an extraordinary, compelling release, completely on its own terms.

We wish we could conclude that _Light_ would have just as much personal impact without Mills's fractured mourning on the trumpet, but that would be lying. Not that we should downplay the effect of Kevin Wunderlich's devastatingly coarse, alternately jarring and meditative guitar playing or Mills's piercing, oh-so-satisfying screech or Cohen's snug percussive performance (though past triumphs suggest that he might have used his talent to imbue this recording with a more idiosyncratic style, given the free reign to do so). All other instrumentation on the album is engaging and essential to the experience. But it's the trumpet's warm lament that bestows character on these songs; it's the divine tonal drone of a brass instrument that makes us wish "Grey Ceiling" closed the mini-album with its exhausted vibrato, rather than the rather faceless, obvious aggression of true final track "Gown of Yellow Stars".

The acoustic guitar passages in "Finisterre" and "Candelaria" also add an indispensable flair to _Light_'s progression, providing another dimension to the mostly blackened proceedings. The band's soft-loud shifts could be smoother -- crescendoing feedback under a soft passage does not a smooth transition make, despite such an attempt on "Finisterre" -- but this fault is a minor sin that might be given a cleaner finish on future efforts. Overall, _Light_ offers one more proof that black metal need never die but, like the iconic dinosaurs, evolve wings that free it from gravity and a cruel beak that will always tear flesh to shreds.


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