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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday Sludge: Eibon - "II"

Every now and then you'll scan a headline addressing the certain imminence of the approaching end times. These prophetic assertions normally fade quick and you'd be lying if you said you didn't wake up with just a brief smile of relief. What media overlooks is that metal, in all its forms, has visualized mass death and destruction for decades. Sure, most of this has been rife with schlock and camp, turning off listeners at the first hint of cartoonish Armageddon. But some bands get it right, carrying the most minuscule of chaotic conceptualizations all the way into the heart of an incredible doom opus.

Paris has its reputation as the universal hub of romance, fashion, and cuisine. You'd hardly believe one of the year's most well-crafted blackened doom albums could spring from such a place. Eibon stretch forty-three minutes over two tracks on II and shatter what you thought you knew about a city you've only seen in movies. Recorded in a live setting, II contains incredibly convincing gloom while celebrating the proficiency each of the band's five members toss on the table. Churning sludge and wispy drafts hardly find balance with any ease, yet Eibon's seasoned lineup flexes its mastery and convincingly affirms the demise of all we know.

The whole of the album is both dense and tense, whether its bred by cavernous thumps or splintered licks. On The Void Settlers, listeners aren't afforded a warm up. The riffs on this nineteen-tick crusher push away at the low end, only to find themselves ensnared even further. The vocal is more than a tad chuffed; this weathered bark is all that remains after your homeland's been decimated. You could expect shifting tempos, but could you expect the structures to fit so tightly? The murderous calm trickles only so long until thunderous passages hurl bricks from an overpass. Envision clouds gathering as swirling howls descend into madness. Crisp, gargantuan drums help your conditions to progressively worsen and the bass motor gradually emerges with slow predation. Eibon's chaotic chemistry is celebrated here, picking at scabs until the rhythms lift toward an absolute spiral of melting atmospheres and diminished viscosity.

And how does a band follow THAT? You might need a minute before diving headfirst into the drained cement pool of Elements of Doom. The churn of the train yard marries the early morning ironworks on a desolate, blustery morning. There's a slow-creeping sorrow extending through static on the entire album, but here the promise of dusty darkness is undeniable. Post-metal, blackened sludge, whatever you call it... the woodshop guitars find a grinding meter on a build toward screeching flames. When the relative calm of guitar buzz descends, you just might have a spare moment to prepare for the complete dissolution of sense and comfort. The black-metal assault on your frame breaks to close on a cool, placid trickle. Shake out those loose teeth, but don't open your good eye. As the guitar lingers and ultimately retreats, the waft and wane is little more than a somber spree of the death that's now all around you.

The album's closing drizzle only magnifies the pedestrian's delirium, and you're not gonna know what I mean unless you hear it yourself. But this denouement presents an encapsulation of what II was all about. The caustic frenzy of warped humanity was the bulk of these tracks, but letting go of expectation is imperative if we're gonna move forward. Don't allow the grind and bombast to dominate your reflections; instead rely on the dull aches, the mystic fog, and the gravity of universal loss. We may not soon suffer unspeakable torment. But Eibon have the road map if we do.

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