SPEKTR  Near Death Experience  CD   (Candlelight)   9.98

If you've been paying attention at all lately to the black metal sounds being transmitted from France, you've no doubt noticed the surfacing of a particular

aesthetic that focuses more on grim, otherworldly textures and atmosphere than speed or heaviness. And as much as I love both speed and heaviness, there's

something about the corrosive, death-shroud ambience that seems to infest the French black metal underground that makes for what is, in my opinion at least,

the most compelling, mind-bending black metal in action right now. I've been raving for awhile now about bands like Blut Aus Nord, Drastus, C.Y.T., Haemoth,

Antaeus, Deathspell Omega...each one a wholly unique black metal entity speaking it's own diabolical tongue. Spektr is the latest of the French hordes that

I've come into contact with, and features a member of the lethal BM outfit Haemoth. Near Death Experience is the duo's second album, a corroded cut

-and-paste document of dead voices from behind the wall, a twisted vision of subliminal atmosphere that is almost more of an experimental black/drone album

than black metal. It opens with "The Violent Stink of Twitching Terror", the first few moments a series of muted drones, factory clang and distant, almost

imperceptible wails, before it implodes into a molten mass of white-noise riff and stuttering blast drums, fragmenting into sudden halting stops and off-

kilter rhythm. The mid-paced shambling dirge of "Astral Descent" enters amidst a gust of crackling digital glitches, distorted howls and icy static wind,

crawling right into "Climax", a four minute interlude of frozen, nebulous black ambience and deep subterranean power drone. "Phantom Reality" is the longest

track on the album at almost 10 minutes in length, another harsh scrapescape of repetitious buried black metal riffage floating deep below gauzy layers of

swirling white noise and broken shortwave radio transmissions, as EVP phenomena bleeds through veils of trebly buzzsaw guitars whose tone peels paint on

contact. That's followed by "Visualization", another mostly instrumental interlude, this time comprised of deformed speech recordings melted over waves of

black amplifier static and blissed out synthesizer clusters. "Whatever the Case May Be" starts off similiar to something from Ulver's more recent electronica

output, but then quickly shapeshifts into buzzing black metal chords over a jazzy drumbeat, almost like some kind of blackened noir jazz with razor

sharp guitars surfacing every now and then. Another blast of chattering percussion of hellish white noise/black blast follows with "Disturbing Signal"; then

another expanse of deathly tomb ambience via "Unio Mystica", which leads directly into the album closer "His Mind Ravaged, His Memory Shattered". A riff

similiar to that of the first track, bleak and buzzing, is accompanied by a weird, stumbling polyrhythm that starts to sound almost like a breakbeat from a

trip-hop track, lurching underneath the midtempo buzz. The whole album is hypnotic and creepy, a document of nocturnal graveyard activity transmitted on

secret frequencies, the garbled found sounds and broken radio transmissions beaming black code from behind the stars, cloaked in death-tripping rusted dub

ambience and corpse jazz shuffle. Near Death Experience is a totally abstract, disorientating experience; before I picked the album up, I checked

out a bunch of reviews online and it's for sure that this isn't for BM purists uninterested in the formless. But for those that dig taking the descent, this

one is fully mesmerizing.

And in addition, this disc also includes CD-ROM content in the form of a video playable on your computer, for a track that doesn't appear on the CD

entitled "The Near Death Experiences (The Screen Method)", a pastiche of dark ambient drones and strange, shuffling jazzy drums and cymbals, creeping over a

broken Burzum style riff that sinks and surfaces in the blackness, like Bohren And Der Club Of Gore meets Burzum maybe, and then towards the end morphs into

a dreamy collage of orchestral strains, mutant voices trying to break through, the sound of tympani pounding out spare marching rhythms. The video footage

that accompanies the track is a series of treated images and melted visuals, the images degrading into abstract fields of shadow and threatening forms,

utterly beautiful.

Track Samples:
Sample : SPEKTR-Near Death Experience
Sample : SPEKTR-Near Death Experience
Sample : SPEKTR-Near Death Experience