Considering the lineage of Acathexis (including members of Mare Cognitum and Yhdarl), the expansive atmospheric black metal of Acathexis should come as no surprise. As with Mare Cognitum, there’s a certain level of polish present; submerged in reverberation, towering tremolo riffs and blast beats rise from the depths (in this case, of a tortured mind) to haunt with bittersweet progressions. For most, the album will succeed at earnestly conveying its emotional plight; at its core, there are poignant moments that owe to smart production choices and songwriting flair.
It’s not too productive to observe the album through the lens of its lyrics — there isn’t much subtlety in the declarations of despair and numbness, and no thematic ground is broken in this regard. But the sheer grandiosity of the album is a worthy spectacle in itself: the prevalence of major chords makes songs feel lionhearted, the shrieks are appropriately forceful, and the attention paid to background details (e.g. the choir-evoking effects on “Immurement”, as well as the song’s eerie rhythm guitar) fleshes out the picture. “Life Only Festers” practically bursts from the chest with its soaring, majestic riffs and relentless drumming (featuring a particularly rapid fill that dazzles). The restrained introduction of “Veins Hollowed” is almost paradoxically indulgent — gentle plucking shimmers and echoes, occupies every bit of the space granted to it.
An album like Acathexis could have easily seemed contrived — this is a common accusation to make of atmospheric black metal with elaborate, polished production and also of any album that so bluntly speaks of suffering. One might think that if not nuance, then perhaps magnitude will get the message across effectively; now, it would be unfair to say that Acathexis falls entirely in the camp of using blunt force to tug heartstrings, but there’s no denying that the beauty of “Veins Hollowed” predominantly comes from its ability to sweep you away in its waves. Moments such as the ending sequence of “Stillborn // Isolate”, with its unusual chord resolution, clearly speak to Acathexis’ adeptness at deceptively simple songwriting; the eerier parts of the album evoke immense unease, whilst the more melodic ones portray noble resistance, however futile it ends up being.
Furthermore, even if Acathexis’ accessibility and charm initially derive from its grandiosity, I have reason to believe that further exploration would reveal it as a genuinely evocative work — it’s a matter of breaking through the imposing structures and observing the pumping heart within. The word “acathexis” refers to the loss of emotional response, but
. . .
Acathexis was released December 26, 2018, and can be found as a name-your-price download here.