Trist (Czech Republic) – Stíny

The real problem with ‘suicidal black metal’ is not, contrary to popular belief, a matter of subject matter.  Depression, suicidal ideation, loneliness; these are all perfectly fine subjects for black metal to cover, as they have been covered before numerous times in a perfectly acceptable, non-suicidal manner.  The real issue is the capability on the part of such performers to express and structure those feelings in a quality manner.  I don’t doubt the sincerity of the vast majority of suicidal black metal musicians.  I’m sure many of them have felt true depression and misery at one point or another (hell, I’m sure all of us have).  However, I’m pretty sure that many of them think that being depressed is enough in and of itself to express that depression in an artistic manner.  Of course, if feelings were artistic capability, nearly all of us would be geniuses in our preferred field of self-expression, wouldn’t we?  But that’s not the case.  Instead, the suicidal black metal scene, as earnest as it might be, is generally populated by people who totally know what it’s like to be depressed, but are about as subtle and complex as a football to the groin about it.

Trist, on the other hand, both grasps the nature of depression as well as how to express it in a competent and relatively unique way.  Trist plays that typical mid-slow suicidal black metal with lots of drawn out tremolo riffs and rock beats and distant, shrieky vocal accompaniment.  Aesthetically, everything’s pretty standard, with the fuzzy, on the raw side production, general instrumental and vocal timbre, and probably subject matter as well (not that I speak Czech).  The things that make ‘Stíny’ unique are much more subtle in nature, mostly relegated to the more abstract realms of song structure and the details that fill the four compositions that make up this album.  It’s perhaps not the perfect entity of the style, but it does go far as to defining how it should sound in this, its purest state.

The central intriguing aspect is that despite how this is suicidal black metal, a style that generally thrives off repetition, there’s far less repetition here than normal.  There are numerous, winding lead guitar sections that go on for long sections of music without ever repeating, simply exploring the musical environment in an almost funeral doom manner before joining back with the main riff.  The drums, also, have a fair bit of, if not complexity, variation.  They employ a frequently changing variety of fills, movements between cymbals during the main rhythms, and have a generally more uptempo and active feel than one would generally expect.  The extremely sparse vocals are pushed far into the background and are often unnoticeable unless you’re listening very actively; their contribution to the music as a whole is essentially just to be another layer of noise, not as a driving portion.

So when you get down to it, what we have here is really sort of a funeral doomster’s take on suicidal black metal; the feeling is less purely depressive and is more gloomy and introspective (though there is plenty of sadness, don’t worry), and the music is hypnotic but still more centered on exploring the atmosphere than it is really pounding the ‘suicidal’ idea into the listener.  It’s a less completely straightforward take on the style, as bound in convention as it generally is, and for that, it’s a worthwhile listen.  I don’t think that this is the album that will change most peoples’ opinions on suicidal black metal; it’s too entrenched in the trappings of the genre to be some huge force propelling new blood into it.  For those who do enjoy it, though, and are looking for a somewhat more mature exploration of it, I’d say it’s an excellent purchase.  Best listened if you come to it from the standpoint of ‘this will be an average suicidal black metal album’; it allows one to soak in the new elements much more thoroughly.


~ by noktorn on January 11, 2008.

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