Some great, epic, weirdly bluesy depressive blackness is what this obscure Spanish outfit delivers. Like a lot of the bands released by Japanese label Maa, Aversion To Mankind have remained little-known outside of the most fervid and fanatical circles of progressive black metal. This, in spite of the fact that the music that this project has been steadily creating over the past few years is surprisingly accessible, while also retaining heavy doses of mournful, somber atmosphere that'll no doubt appeal to anyone into the more miserable, "depressive" realm of black metal. 2014â€™s Between Scylla and Charybdis is the second full-length from this one-man band, and presents a rather stunning combination of doom-laden atmosphere, soaring Floydian guitar, and anguished black metal; the sound is huge, moving from cavernous, slow-moving funereal tempos and blackened heaviness into hauntingly pretty and delicate passages of jangling minor key chords and layers of acoustic guitar strum. Those passages are the highlights of the album, contrasting that crushing metallic heaviness with evocative and enigmatic field recordings, splashes of melancholic piano, unexpected smears of rain-drenched jazziness, and mysterious, unseen voices that bring a great deal of drama and emotion to these instrumental vignettes, which materialize all throughout the three sprawling tracks that comprise Charybdis.
That cavernous quality extends into the production itself, the whole sound drenched in reverb, with this distant quality to everything, especially whenever the music kicks into the actual black metal parts. Itâ€™s an interesting feel, the drums appearing as this far-off rumble, the blast beats blurred into a deep reverberant pulse beneath the swarming minor key guitars and funerary melodies that appear and ascend over the long, stretched out passages of mournful crush. And then there's that noticeable Spanish folk influence that shows up in the guitar leads every once in awhile, something that I noticed on the previous album. Thatâ€™s another cool contrast, the soaring, droning guitar lines will sometimes seem to be directly influenced by older folk melodies and even flamenco, which definitely gives this stuff a fairly unique feel. But it gets pretty vicious, too. There are killer bursts of furious rocking black thrash that wash across songs like "In a Fleshy Tomb, I'm Buried Above Ground", and the ferocious riff that tears through the end of the song is a ripper. Aversion To Mankind maintain an epic grandiosity to all of this, the mix of blackened blast and slow-moving immensity melding well with the powerful, cinematic scope of so much of this stuff; the album's most striking moments arrive whenever the guitar emerges with one of those spacey, bluesy Pink Floyd-esque melodies, shifting into sorrowful and twangy leads that drift dreamily over the wintry ambience and rumbling blackened fury, super atmospheric, but also scarred by moments of abrasive ugliness via the occasional squall of crazed atonal noise.
Ever since being turned on to this band, both Charybdis and the previous album (2013â€™s Suicidology) have slipped right into my list of favorite downer-metal alongside the likes of ColdWorld, Trist, early Hypomanie and Hypothermia.