OK folks, it’s time to get weird. Specifically, it’s time to get black metal weird which is my favorite kind of weird these days and honestly something the black metal scene needs way more of. Hailing from Seattle (where else), the duo dubbed blackQueen have been making self-described “witch metal” for over two decades now. Yes, you read that right: through twists, hiatuses, and turns, these guys have been making digressive, challenging, and downright vicious metal since 1998. While I want to focus on their latest release, The Destructive Cycle, for this post, I strongly urge you to dig back and listen to their uncompromising discography in full. It contains the sort of fierce dedication to music that I love black metal for.

But on to the subject at hand, The Destructive Cycle. Released in November of last year, this absolute slab of fierceness has a fuzzy style of production at its core that usually puts me off music. But here, that fuzziness works so well with the unrelenting blast-beats, chainsaw riffs, and furious vocals that it elevates everything into new levels of aggression. Check out the second track, “Feed the Worm”, for example. Holy crap, that first riff! With plenty of thrash swaggers, the guitars just explode, daring the drums to keep the pace (which they do). The vocals operate on that same unrelenting pace, spewing forth vitriol and anger with every word.

Listen to how that production “hugs” everything, coating it in the sort of acerbic feel that the composition channels. That sound is everywhere on the album, raw, in your face, black metal aggression. Of course, the aforementioned composition, especially on the many excellent bass ideas on the album, is what gives the music its extra edge of weird. It channels ideas that, when combined with the thrashiness of the sound, almost reminds us of the old school days of technical thrash, when bands like Watchtower, Voivod, Sieges Even, and Psychotic Waltz were making their mark on the scene. Of course it’s not part of that genre per se, but many of its progressive and wild tendencies echo those bands and their fierce, musical imaginations.

Long story short, blackQueen won’t give you many breaks; their music twists and turns as it unleashes its fury on you and it does so often and with undeniable grace. It’s still intensely heavy but also intricate and varied. My advice is to listen to this album through a few times before you make up your mind; there’s a lot on it to digest.