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Bizarrist tract on second wave black metal - 82%

we hope you die, June 18th, 2022

France’s Koldkrypt would have us believe that this is a work of utter misanthropy, an act of giving up on humanity as a project that will ever redeem itself from the crimes it has rendered on the earth and on itself. But the album itself is replete with traditional (and triumphalist) melodic material, indicative of an artist that desires to continue living, or at least to create works that carry the seed of life’s continuance.

‘Holocauste Global’ is essentially a tract on second wave black metal, updated with the deranged doomsaying and avant-gardist projectiles we’ve come to expect of French iterations of the form. It therefore walks a crowd-pleasing line between a retention of the exhilarating animalism that made black metal’s lo-fi impetus so appealing in the first place, with accessible and engaging melodic riffs that boast common ground with what is colloquially referred to as the “catchy”.

We are a long way from the medievalist static of Mutiilation or Vlad Tepes, nor are we anywhere close to the annihilation grind of Antaeus. Instead, Koldkrypt offer an aesthetic that retains the requisite raw credentials to be considered “legitimate” by the latter-day arbiters of scene credibility, but they do not let this requirement become a detriment to the rich melodic character of this brand of black metal. Drums, although relegated to flat, three dimensional metronomic expressions are still capable of watermarking each piece via urgent pacing and ice cold cymbal noise.

Guitars are nuanced and immersive, switching from thick tremolo brush strokes to bright and euphoric leads, to jagged, angular dissonance whilst losing none of their dramatic bight along the way. Vocals maintain a constant state of fraught high drama throughout, posing as ghoulish agent of chaos at one end to an activist desperately trying to wake humanity from its slouch toward annihilation at the other. Supplementary textures are provided by sporadic keyboards that function more as purveyors of minimalist noise and dark ambience as opposed to melodic vectors.

Despite ‘Holocauste Global’ presenting as a work thoroughly at ease with its black metal self, this is a strikingly conflicted album. It uses highly traditional black metal forms as a Trojan Horse by which to smuggle in sharp breaks toward left-field dissonance, sound art, or exercises in the uncanny. Acoustic guitars, folk or medievalist inflections, even the epicism of traditional heavy metal are all returning characters on this album, at first presented as straightforward musical touchstones, only to then be warped, mutated, and manipulated over the course of the album into a state of collapse.

The result is a kind of carnival bizarre, where the familiar is presented as something threatening. The walls of safe black metal tropes are punctured, allowing dysmorphic spectres to bleed through the cracks and warp our municipal treasure trove of cultural signifiers. It’s the subtlety of Koldkrypt’s avant-gardist project that makes it all the more convincing. The competence of the compositions both in terms of melodic manipulation and raw playing ability allows them to slip into our minds with subconscious fluidity, thus rendering us more susceptible to receiving messages of horrific novelty than if this was a work of unrestrained taboo violation.

Originally published at Hate Meditations