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Critically-acclaimed French industrial black metal band Spektr are critically-acclaimed for a reason. Releasing their new album, "Cypher", through Agonia Records, Spektr once again propel listeners into a realm of surrealism and pure ambiance, an abyss no one seems to want to escape from.
Spektr has always had an enigma of mystery about them, much like quite a few other underground black metal bands, but while those bands utilize anonymity to add an appealing aspect to their marketability, Spektr, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to care much about that sort of thing. This is one of those rare bands that's refreshing, arresting, compelling, and exciting, all done in the favor of playing music because they love music.
"Cypher" was my very first experience listening to the band and from a stand of complete unfamiliarity, it turned into an astral connection that was felt on multiple levels. Their music seemed to fuel my mind, charge my heart, and move my soul.
Opening with “Hermetism”, a futuristic-sounding track that carries with it some cryptic musicality along with a mesmerizing, effecting, and atmospherically-intense style, the band seems to make it a point from the start to awe. They don’t need to shock, for they jump straight to the awe and never stop from there.
The album is full of crazy influences from all sorts of genres, a combination that produces music that is nothing short of amazing. Surprising elements pop in here and there at precise moments for a precise purpose with a very precise feel, giving listeners the impression that every single zing, twang, and tink serves some sort of bigger purpose in the artistic labor of Spektr.
Everything about the album is unexpected. “Teratology” was the standout track for me as the band easily pulled in and out of insanity and into serenity, a blend that most metal bands cannot readily say they have achieved. With all kinds of musical elements providing a jarring sense of haunting surrealism, it seemed like my musical understanding was being put under an autopsy, dissecting what I had previously perceived about metal music and leaving me, well, mindfucked.
As a listener, you’d be in constant suspense, and even during the more atmospheric and ambient parts of the songs, the hairs on your neck will be standing in anticipation of awesomeness. Spektr was really testing their listeners to comprehend, above all things, their style. Maybe it’s the Frenchness in them.
The entire experience felt out of this world and halfway through the listening process, I was suddenly brought back down to Earth as I realized that all the songs were connected. My brain imploded as I began to see how each song ended and was picked up again by the time the next song started, leaving me completely baffled as to how Spektr actually managed to write a 45 minute song that's cut up into nine different tracks with nine different themes.
When I was taking down notes for what to publish for this review, I almost felt like a madwoman under the effects of a madder experiment, going insane on conspiracy theories and math theorems derived from Satan’s whispered knowledge on his most sacred number, pi. "Cypher" will do that to you, and you probably won’t mind.
The entire experience felt like a black metal Buddha Bar, and as Buddha put it, “Spektr is awesome, hypnotic, at the least.” And I was certainly hypnotized by the single most awesome musical experience ever.
Originally written for http://www.metal-temple.com