In the rapidly populating sea of post-atmospheric-gaze-whatever black metal it usually takes something truly innovative to grab my attention. Kassad doesn’t do anything overwhelmingly unique, experimental or progressive for the post-black metal scene, but by the end of the first track I just had that moment of “okay wow, these guys have got this sound figured out.” The greatness of their new album London Orbital sneaks up on you. In its consistency and confined scope, they’ve constructed a really digestible yet striking black metal album with strong replay value.
London Orbital was written as a conceptual, near-future dystopian sci-fi focused on urban living, where London itself is personified and human minds are distorted by artificial intelligence. From bandcamp: “I wanted to create music for an imagined, future London – one where the city’s monoliths of glass and concrete have come alive to assert their malevolent control over the millions of people that live and toil amongst them.”
Wild. That malevolence and oppression translates musically into a powerfully melancholy listening experience, capturing some of the brutality of dense urban living. Harakiri for the Sky style cascading riffs and emotional blackened screams strike such a bleak and bleary tone. This is probably the most depressing album I’ve heard this year, which I think is exactly what the artist was going for.
Like cities, London Orbital emits a hypnotic hum. The consistent post-rocky atmosphere is like a nearby electrical station or rail cars, forever radiating their presence. Synth-infused album closer “The Hollow” ups that dystopian metropolis feel. It builds as an ambient track, until a quick rest is jolted awake by a layer of reverb heavy guitars. As a cinematic instrumental, it sounds like a city itself is breathing mechanically. Synth pads, a more buzzing saw synth and the guitars are layered for an incredibly cold and bleak urban feel.
Black metal is off to a good start in 2020. Stream it on platforms and on bandcamp below! Out now on Hynoptic Dirge Records.