Smohalla – Resilience

Smohalla

Resilience

01. Quasar
02. Au Sol Les Toges Vies
03. Le Repos Du Lezard
04. Oracle Rouge
05. Marche Silencieuse
06. L’homme Et La Brume
07. Aux Mille Dieux
08. Nos Sages Divisent

[10/13/11]
[Arx Productions]

I’m sure most people who frequent this website are familiar with my love affair for Post-Black Metal. In my search for similar acts who dabble in taking black metal to it’s opposite extreme, I discovered Smohalla, a band with a touch more avant-garde flair than your run-of-the-mill Niege projects that seem to saturate the niche genre. While Smohalla were indeed a break from the shoegaze-oriented bands that I enjoyed, their brand of music entails more madness and psychedelic disorder similar to that of Ulver rather than just another Alcest, still managing to transcend the genre’s boundaries. This was about a year ago, and there was only an EP and a single or two available, so there was really nothing significant to write home about. Now though, Smohalla popped up again seemingly out of nowhere with their full-length debut album Resilience. I must admit, it’s an experience I wasn’t ready for.

Resilience is uneasy. Resilience is abstract. Resilience is progressive. On the first listen, you will have no idea what the hell you’re listening to. Sure, Resilience starts out almost unassumingly enough with it’s spacey intro track “Quasar,” but once the album truly kicks in with “Au Sol Les Toges Vies,” then all hell seems to break loose with free-form jass like erraticism matched with high doses of LSD.

Smohalla takes experimental metal to new extremes here. Of course, their very busy and ethereal approach is quite challenging in the best sense of the phrase. Resilience is extremely forward-thinking and thought-provoking, and one listen simply isn’t enough to digest. Their unique sound in itself is something that takes some getting used to; it’s almost as if members of Shining (No.), Deathspell Omega, and Ulver collaborated in a collective fashion to create Resilience. It really is a task to describe what I’m hearing any better than that, but that’s eerily accurate and should serve to pique interest quite nicely.

Resilience feels quite epic and grand, especially in the track “Oracle Rogue,” where we begin to see more structure and noticeable riffing and nuanced guitar parts that can sometimes be buried into a mass of sounds—bits of melody writhe from underneath dissonance and noisy industrial synth tones only to inevitably fall back again into the minutiae, almost to the point of sounding like a disorganized mess on the surface. It all works together though, as there’s a nice balance of chaos and atmospheric songwriting to make things more multidimensional.

On a vocal front, things are equally as wild and unpredictable. Vocals are never really a highlight per say, but they’re given equal treatment compared to the music. The vocal work runs the gamut from your expected black-metal shrieking to eerie chants and choral parts that always manage to compliment the dense and bleak soundscapes.

Resilience came as quite a surprise, I must say. Just when I had thought Smohalla had faded into obscurity, they hop up to take the reigns on the wagon that Blut Aus Nord fell off of. What we’re hearing here on Resilience is hopefully just the starting point of a long and diverse career for Smohalla. If Resilience is any indication, they’ll be challenging the norm and pushing the envelope of black metal for years to come.

Smohalla – Resilience gets…

4/5

– JR

Editor and founder of Heavy Blog Is Heavy. Social worker. Only doing this bio because of internal pressure to comply.