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Formed in 2016, Canadian BM band Labyrinthique wasted no time releasing two short albums and "Ascension" is the second of these releases. The band has a ragged wintry style of raw atmospheric BM, steeped in the coldest of cold tundra blizzards with the most ghostly and ghastly of spider demon voices. We set off on this particular torturous labyrinthine journey with "L'Ascension de Joseph Smith" which is possibly a reference to the British explorer Joseph Smith or the self-styled Mormon prophet Joseph Smith who preached in Mount Pleasant in Upper Canada (now part of Ontario). The song carries on like a pitiless funeral dirge with a hellish croaking, shrieking Dalek vocal so maybe it's about the Mormon guy. The second track is equally raw and cold, and the vocals and acid-shower guitars lash your ears with equal biting force. There's more variety in the riffs, the rhythms are sometimes choppy and the song's dynamics range from very soft to unbearably loud.
From here on, the remaining songs are a bit longer and more interesting. "Labyrinthique" features as much mood as it does rapid-fire tremolo guitar force and choppy staccato blast-beat rhythms but the shrieking banshee vocals command most attention. The song chops and changes a bit but also boasts passages where the music simply flows as if with a mind of its own - it's structurally quite complicated with opportunities for the music to die right down and then blast out unexpectedly. "Necropoles" shows the band can do full-on demonic roar with a mix of malevolent yet catchy riffs and melodies that go into unexpected detours. Of all four tracks, this one is at once strongly melodic and accessible to a wider listening audience while still maintaining a hateful and aggressive style that showcases the band's song-writing ability with its liking for unusual pauses and linkages.
The sound and production are tinny but the music is clear and most instruments can be heard distinctly. Labyrinthique would probably benefit from a more pristine sound as the songs include very quiet as well as loud sections, but that would probably reduce some of the music's raw and pained quality. Technically there's a lot happening in the music even though most songs are not very long which suggests the band has a good grip on song composition skills. Plenty of drama and mood feature on the four songs. My feeling is what Labyrinthique offer on this short release is just a smidgen of their potential and they merit a close watch on their future activities.