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Good evocation of a life falling into dark chaos - 73%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, January 26th, 2014

A short first demo by a one-man depressive BM act based in Cairo in Egypt, "Depictions of a Melancholic Reality" is just one song with a brief and separate introduction. It starts off with a field recording of falling rain and distant thunder from which a harsh solo guitar riff loop and blurry Xasthur-like vocals emerge. The music quickly settles into a repetitive minimalist structure dominated by the repeating guitar, dicky programmed percussion and a choir of distorted, cloudy phantom voices.

As the music progresses, changes in key to minor keys bring about shifts in mood to paranoia and derangement. Past the halfway point, the song starts morphing and chopping up in ways that feel nauseous and which put you off balance. Tones veer into darker, bleaker alley-ways, maddeningly repetitive riffing goes off on demented tangents and those voices carry on with their endless haranguing.

The production is lo-fi though whether this was deliberate or not is hard to say. The cheap nature of the production with its hiss and ambient field recordings that sound as if you've heard them countless times on other people's records actually enhances the music; the overall feel is paranoid, dark and bleak. The drumming sounds lightweight with saucepan lids for cymbals. Guitars have a buzzy sound that verges on the insane. Synthesiser and piano add to the mood of alienation and bleakness.

The increasingly crazy and fragmented structuring of the track is its major attraction - it captures well the disintegration of a life losing its grip on reality and being preyed upon by demonic forces. There is real sadness expressed in the track's coda (though it could have done without the wolf's howl in the distance). White noise hiss on the tape is incorporated into the coda and becomes part of the music's texture - a good example of how defects in production can be turned into ambient musical assets.

This recording will surprise a lot of people curious as to whether good atmospheric and depressed black metal can come from countries where snow is such a rare occurrence that it makes news headlines when it does (as it actually did in parts of Egypt in 2013/4!) - Frostagrath proves people in hot desert countries with lots of blue sky can be just as miserable and depressed as folks enjoying nine-month winters in far northern places.