Wednesday 10 October 2012

Primitive Graven Image - Psychedelic Episodes

Envenomation Music 2012
1.Eye Of Existence 2.Ten Thousand Armageddons
3.Mock The Lifeline 4.Slave To The Mannequin 5.Attack The Attacker
6.Breathe 7.The Maniacal Laughter Of A Dying Man
8.The Killer, The Philosopher And TheHoly Man
9.Of Death AndDeathlessness (Introduction)
Primitive Graven Images third full length had been hyped up well before its release date, teasing those waiting to hear it with the band proclaiming that new influences and ideas had been incorporated into the bands brand of elite black metal. As ‘Eye Of Existence’ blasts open it’s very apparent that some of these new ideas have been incorporated from the outset. The bands familiar black metal sound still there, only with a heavy dose of melody added in, very catchy and very effective indeed. Tempos have been varied, with the more melodic edge used to great effect when the band slow proceedings down. The keyboards add an extra dimension, being almost hypnotic in composition. Don’t worry though, the band still remaining as scathing and as lethal as on previous albums. As ‘Ten Thousand Armageddon’s’ begins, the blast beats have returned in a ferocious start to this second track. One point to note here is the guitar production, a lot heavier than a lot of black metal, the bass guitar really punches through and you can actually here it under the guitars. The track then breaks completely from the black metal norm, a spacey progressive interludes takes over, almost sounding 70’s prog rock. Strangely enough though, it works and works really well, especially when the screamed black metal vocals are re-introduced. The track then returns to the more familiar black metal sound seen earlier. Different, but in a really good way. When ‘Mock The Lifeline’ bursts into life, the band starts to sound a lot like Marduk, the slower heavier option preferred here. Devastatingly powerful, especially when the band jumps from the slow and mournful up to the hyper blasting sections in an instant. The mix of time changes and tempos works extremely well and stops the song from becoming one dimensional and being the longest on the entire cd (7:47) that’s probably going to be a good thing. Minds can wander on long songs, but not here, there’s so much to keep the listener engaged. As the track draws to a close, the spacey and proggy keyboards are re-introduced, used as an outro. It doesn’t sound out of place either, because the prog element is starting to become the norm here. 
‘Slave To The Mannequin’ is the albums most straight ahead black metal song so far, the ‘other influences and ideas’ dropped for a more familiar black metal approach. Blasting and scathing, it’s never going to fail but please. Having said that, the introduction of a folky element is absolute genius, the riff used is so catchy that its extremely hard to put into words. It raises goosebumps every time, so catchy. Having spoken to the band I know they were in two minds about using the folk inspired riff, feeling it might just be too folk influenced. It would have been a massive mistake to not include that riff, it makes the track something really special. It is one of the best riffs I have heard in a long time and makes for an absolutely killer song. Well done for being brave and sticking with it because it works so well. ‘Attack The Attacker’ is another ‘foot to the floor’ black metal assault, the re-introduction of some slower but extremely melodic guitar work ensures that this is another ‘stand out’ track. As the song begins to end another new idea is incorporated seemlessly, cleanly sung vocals which sound particularly effective alongside the melodic framework which this track is twisted around. Great stuff. ‘Breathe’ sees the band side stepping from the slow melodic and mournful, to the all out blast again, effortless in delivery and vocally it is ultra-scathing, pure spite and hate being spat out with absolute malice; as black metal should be really. Again we see another spacey and melodic ending to this track, fitting given what we have witnessed previously. ‘The Maniacal Laughter Of A Dying Man’ remains mid-paced and is another example of UKBM at its very best, there’s a real definitive song structure on display, verse chorus easy to follow and again being delivered in the more familiar black metal approach, tight and fast tremolo picked guitars being backed up by some slower, but powerful drum work. No proggy influences here, this track is solely about the black metal!
‘The Killer, The Philosopher And The Holy Man’ is probably the most ‘different' track on the cd, many of the bands new and different influences being incorporated. Cleanly sung vocals again utilised well alongside the scathing screamed black metal style of vocals. Tempos mixed and matched from the melodically slow through to the all-out blasting. A spoken passage is introduced with almost space like / industrial vocal effects used. Very different, but fitting in perfectly amongst everything else the track has to offer. The song never forgetting that it is back metal at heart. Ending proceedings is ‘Of Death And Deathlessness (Introduction)’, a keyboard lead atmospheric track, again, a very ‘spacey’ feel to it, bordering on the epic.  It’s probably very fitting that the entire album is titled ‘Psychedelic Episodes’ as many of the tracks offered up have a certain psychedelic feel and sound. This is a pure black metal album, and one of the highest order and all the talk of new ideas and influences was well founded, there are a lot of new ideas on show. Not enough to change the bands sound however, it is still very much PGI and those familiar with the band will not be disappointed at all. Very brave for a black metal band to add the kind of influences the band has, but they have done it and done it very well, the black metal core never spoilt by those ‘other ideas’. They have been incorporated and used extremely effectively and is testament to the bands song writing ability. This is their third full length and by far their best. Don’t be frightened by the words ‘Prog’ or ‘Spacey’ of ‘Clean singing’ because believe me, this album is packed full of absolutely amazing black metal songs, some with new ideas yes, but ideas that enhance the songs and only add to the appeal of the album. UKBM of the highest order and very highly recommended.
9 out of 10

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