Skagos – Anarchic (Flenser)
Released 23rd april 2013
Forming out of the Cascadian black metal scene, by their own admission, Skagos is ‘an altar of life, crafted by living hands, guided by a living mind, in a world dead, but ever dreaming.’ The band brings this statement to life on their second full length album.
The album is split into two sections; ‘I – IV’ and ‘V-VII.’ Within these tracks there are separately named sections. The opening section, ‘The Darkling Plain,’ is extremely ambient and atmospheric. It opens with two minutes of feedback before hypnotic synth sounds and vocals lead you into a false sense of security. Section two shatters the ambience to pieces in completely unsubtle fashion. Furious blast beat drumming and a wall of noise created by the guitars, herald a distinctly black metal section. The vocals are harsh and the music is unrelenting. This ferocity is kept up for around 10 minutes, until part three leads the track back into more ambient territory before a flurry of manic activity reaches another loud crescendo. Part four is entitled Spring Speaks Truth, which as the name suggests, contains a spoken element. The moods that are created throughout the first track are incredibly haunting. The vocals are despairing and the musical journey is something special during its near 35 minute duration.
The second track, ‘V-VII’ follows a lot of the same formula to an equally devastating effect. Part V: Corvidae, opens with a near silent three minutes, to be broken with dimmed, chiming guitars and a sole, marching drum. Part VI segues seamlessly with a steady, calm drum beat, and keeping the hushed tones. This tone builds and builds until unleashing another maelstrom of pure black metal. Again, this is unrelenting for a large slice of this section; however the tempo slows before entering Part VII. Although the tempo slows, the piercing guitars are backed with some extreme, shrieked vocals, which would have the most ardent black metal fan salivating. The closing strains of the section again show the ambient side of the band, and this ends the album perfectly, with everything gradually being taken out of the mix.
This album is definitely challenging in parts, and it isn’t for the casual music fan that likes to skip between their favourite tracks. This is also not an album that you could just put on in the background; this is an intense piece of work that demands your attention. It is both beautiful and crushing in equal measures. The album is definitely about the experience, and this is one ethereal experience that is wholly satisfying.