From Ingrats’ opening jazzy piano and drum duo on “Gimme a break,” it’s apparent that one-man experimental black metal project netra is taking on the genre from a more sophisticated headspace than the torch-bearing, forest-wandering forefathers of the genre. It’s easy to connect the dots to more progressive-leaning artists like Ulver or Altar of Plagues, and to a lesser degree, Norway’s Shining, but those comparisons fall short of capturing netra’s homogenous blend of nostalgic blackened melodies with ambitious electronic leanings.
Indifferent, mechanical, and with regular, healthy doses of electronic influences including darkwave, industrial, and trip hop, netra has produced an enthralling cocktail of sounds that exude a cinematic darkness. Throughout, there’s much reverence and flirtation with this classy noir, primarily by use of a street-lit piano or saxophone, but at times more subtle, like with a simulated vinyl pop and hiss, spoken word passage, or ambient sample. Details like this enhance Ingrats’ distinct urban feel with an uncommon grit.
Whereas tracks like “Everything’s Fine” and “A genuinely benevolent man” favor the blazing emotes of more familiar black metal tendencies (featuring some of the most tortured, voice-breaking screams of recent memory), most of the record leans toward a sterile and calculated detachment, confirming just how good frosty tremolos and blast beats can mesh up with washes of synthesizers and heavy synthwave-level pulses (see: “Don’t keep me waiting,” or “Live with it.”) At the same time, the moments absent of guitars or drums (see “Could’ve, should’ve would’ve” or “Paris or Me”) stand strongly on their own, independent of the machinery of black metal. Ingrats finds an exceptional balance in both measure and quality, proving most other experiments with electronic black metal to be lopsided.