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Instrumental minimal second-wave BM work of melody and riff loops - 60%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, July 31st, 2020

Hardly any info about Coprolythe apart from what I can find on MA and Coprolythe's Bandcamp page exists so what I write from here on is based entirely on what I hear on this act's debut recording. Coprolythe is a solo project based in Brittany, in northwestern France, and plays instrumental minimal 1990s-style second-wave BM. Guitars are raw and steely but surprisingly allow the bass guitar to be heard very clearly even when that instrument follows the six-string riff attack note for note faithfully. The synth drumming is hard-hitting but otherwise not much out of the ordinary. Each of the four tracks on offer is based very strongly around repeating riff and melody loops, out of which a sequence is made and then repeated to constitute more or less the entire track.

Intro track "Deni" ("Denial") comes over as a series of warm-up BM riff loops and not much more - no attempt is made at creating a definite mood or atmosphere, though the sound of the instruments is cold enough. While the music has crunch and grit, there's no obvious aggression either. It's only with "Orchidoplaste" that a definite attempt at generating and sustaining mood starts with two layers of guitar (one higher pitched than the other) picking over the same evil-sounding melody loop, extracting variations out of it and then continuing with other repeating melody and riff loops or returning to the original loop. "Souffrance" starts as blackened death metal in style, riffing and pacing while preserving a cold ambient edge but steadily turns more melodic post-BM and even becomes quite doomy and prog-rock by its halfway point before winding up in a mix of its styles. "Quand les plus forts tombent" ("When the strongest fall") is the most complex of the four tracks, with added acoustic guitar for an ambient introduction to a technical blackened death work featuring interesting staccato chord riff work.

All these tracks have the nature of being studies ("études" as they would be called in formal music composition) in melody and riff construction and repetition, and are no more than layers of rhythm textures. They may have clear beginnings and endings but between those there is no sense of a narrative based on emotion, mood, ambience or any increasing intensity in the music's dynamics (such as pace, the density of the music itself or volume, among other things that make up what we would call "timbre") and so there's no clear climax or sense of the music reaching a point where a message or theme is complete and all that's left is coming to a resolution and ending the music. Obviously having lyrics and a voice to sing them would improve all four pieces - they can't really be called songs - by giving them an actual narrative but this would be going against the purpose or reason for Coprolythe to record this demo.

As I see it, the demo is to demonstrate what can be done with the basic black metal structural template, the artist going back to what it was back in the 1990s, experimenting with that template and then creating or recreating a new music (an alternative or hypothetical black metal that might take a very different turn from what actually exists, and which will now exist in parallel with the real thing) from that. The project's name Coprolythe (in English, "coprolith", meaning fossil dung) even suggests this is what the project might be about: digging up the bones of a past creature and figuring out from those remains what sort of creature it was, what it ate and how it might have lived.

So, as a demo or EP or album as we would understand it, this whole recording won't make sense to most people. There are good melodies and riffs here waiting for the day when they can be turned into actual songs or into longer instrumental music pieces. Perhaps if you take the attitude that Coprolythe is an archaeologist digging around in past black metal history and finding detritus that is then put on tapes or uploaded to Bandcamp for public show, then you can appreciate what this demo represents. There's probably a limit though to how long Coprolythe can pull off this act and after another recording or two like this one, he'll have to start playing songs with what he's found.