In recent years, an almost non-stop debate has begun as to what can be considered true “kvlt” black metal. Must it remain true to the first two waves, forever doomed to copy the styles of Bathory and Mayhem, or can it expand, incorporating (gasp) major scales and ambient parts? If anything, these “debates” (if you can even call a bunch of guys on internet comment boards arguing a debate) have grown increasingly hostile as bands such as Deafheaven and Bosse De Nage steadily gaining popularity in the metal and even wider music scenes. It is these bands popularity, as well as their willingness to experiment, that help to perfectly pave the way for Chicago/Baltimore based experimental black metal/noise band Locrian‘s latest effort, Infinite Dissolution.
First of all, if you’re looking for a thrashy, frost-bitten black metal band that writes songs about Paganism and the occult, Locrian is not for you. However, if you’re willing to expand your idea of what black metal is allowed to be, Locrian very well maybe for you. While it is true that the band has a very loose foothold in black metal (blast beats are not abundant on this album, sorry), it also undeniably plays a huge role in their sound. Take, for example, the first track, “Arc of Extinction”. While it may mainly be driven by synth melodies over layers of static, and also present the vocals as far off and distant, a thick smothering of blast beats can be heard pounding away underneath the airier elements of the song.
The album’s theme itself also touches on some of the common black metal cliches, focusing mainly on humanity’s inevitable destruction and return to nature. However, Locrian does not look at this event through a nihilistic lens, but instead chooses to focus on it by showing it as the completion of a cycle, somewhat of a triumphant event. As such, the band sets themselves up perfectly for Phillip Glass-esque neo-classical flourishes sprinkled through out the albums. Combine this with the desolate samplings of things such as a ghost town and the rythmic striking of metal, as well as more desolate noise passages, and you have a band that is not only willing to take risks, but also knows how to keep ambient music moving and dynamically varied.
Overall, Locrian’s refusal to adhere to basic black metal ideology, while still aiming to maintain a steady black metal influence, is what helps them fully shine through as a band. They’re obviously influenced by noise acts, a genre with many of its own stereotypical pit falls, and, when mixed with black metal, Locrian is able to avoid the short comings of both. The metal influence helps to keep the album from growing cold and redundant, while the noise helps to keep them from being just another Deafheaven copy-cat band. Infinite Dissolution manages to appeal to fans of both genres, while surely deterring the are abundant in both. If you’re looking for a challenging, interesting piece of music, Infinite Dissolution is for you.