Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Avichi: Catharsis Absolute (2014)

Relative to Nothing

What’s the deal with black metal, anyway? No, I don’t want to start that debate. I mean, why is there so damn much black metal out there? It seems like I get three black metal promos for every two other promos. Even if you’re picky about your definition of the genre, it gets close to a 1:1 ratio.

Whatever the reason, the sheer volume of black metal out there makes it easy to spot a lot of trends. Then everything you hear gets put into one of those trends. Everything fits into a box that already exists. Avichi, on the other hand, is a rare exception. It’s not tr00, it’s not hipster, it’s not Cascadian or Brooklyn or Norwegian or anything else. That’s refreshing.

After an eerie piano intro, the record plunges into fast, heavy black metal. But it doesn’t quite fit the mold. The drums are not the chaotic blast beats of 90’s Norway, but are driving nonetheless. The vocals are both raspy growls and chants, and the guitars tremolo-pick. “Lightweaver” mixes things up by starting on a much more traditional metal riff before turning to black metal, and bringing piano counterpoints when it does go black. “Voice of Intuition” feints toward ballad before bringing it back to the extreme, then “All Gods Fall” delivers on the ballad promise in apocalyptic fashion. The record revisits the piano melody to close (for much longer than you might expect).

It’s not just that Avichi doesn’t really fit any of the established boxes in the black metal canon. Catharsis Absolute doesn’t even acknowledge those boxes exist. It comes off as an honest record of a genre-denier, leaning toward black metal not out of allegiance but because it sounds right. And it does.

The Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars


  1. Sounds like the kind of black metal I would be interested in.

  2. I might have to check this out. It's true that for some reason black metal really seems to be booming these days, so something that doesn't just float along in the middle of that massive stream seems like it would be quite welcome.