Anyone that remembers Korovakill will be quaking in their cult boots at the prospect of ‘PhantasmaChronica’s arrival. The Austrian act dabbled on the experimental fringes of black metal before fizzling into obscurity – falling off the musical map with a ten-year productive freeze.
Previously known as Korova in the 90’s and Korovakill from 2000 onward, the cold trail is resumed by one. Christof Niederwieser picks up where he left off by again renaming his band. Out with Korovakill and in with Chryst. ‘The Awakening’ begins the long-awaited album. It is an awakening in itself with its blackened bombast. However, slowing the song and speeding it back up doesn’t sound particularly clever but like some facetious sad-act is pressing the speed settings button one of your favourite vinyls – it’s annoying more than anything. Vocals seem incredibly low in the mix and have little impact on the repetitive verses. They fail to excite with harmonies that are closer to the work of industrial group Attrition – which wouldn’t be a bad thing if it didn’t feel like it was disjointed at the seams. Their biggest impact lies exclusively on two adjoining tracks – ‘A New Age’ and ‘Metatropolis’.
As we all know, you don’t need melodic vocals to make a good album. Looking at the so-called ‘avant-garde’ focus on metal, Arcturus pulled off the ultimate brain-melting, carnival ride of darkness with 1997’s ‘La Masquerade Infernale’ and Garm’s voice was far from conventional. While Chryst have a similar zest for woozy psychedelia that sounds at home in a travelling circus’ tent, it isn’t quite accomplished in potently spreading this black, intoxicating atmosphere. ‘Back In The Room’ has an ethereal choir wading through some beautiful acoustic guitar, ending with a breathing sound that strangely resembles letting air out of an accordion. Much like its finish, this is a very peculiar record that requires a patient ear and a particular taste.
PhantasmaChronica is out now on Omniversal
You’ll like this if… you have a dusty record shelf of avant-garde obscureness and the ICS Vortex album didn’t have enough debauched weirdness goin’ down.