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Night Doesn't End - 94%

HeySharpshooter, December 2nd, 2014

Raw to the Rapine is everything great about American black metal.

The formula is standard issue in terms of atmospheric, raw black metal; blast beats, repetition, tortured vocals, lots of reverb, etc, and nothing alien to any fan of the world wide black metal scene. Yet at the same time Raw to the Rapine is distinctly American; more savage, more emotional, less refined and traditional, all in the most subtle and unexpected ways. Bleak and heavy, Tukaaria have also produced an album of deep emotional brevity and unquestionable, if unorthodox, beauty. Melodies slink and shiver beneath mounds of ambient minutia and damaged vocals, evoking both an atmosphere of suffocation and reflection. Fact: Raw to the Rapine has more real emotion in it than a thousand European DSBM genre pieces.

Much in the same way fellow Crep├║sculo Negro/Black Twilight Circle/Rhinocervs/Who The Fuck Cares project Odz Manouk have taken the standard formulas and evoked greater demons from their bowels, Tukaaria have found a way to make atmospheric raw black metal feel incredibly fresh and exciting again. For starters, Raw to the Rapine is fucking heavy, much heavier and brutal than we typically expect from the genre. Tracks like "Chasm of Creation" and "Raw to the Rapine" at times border on blackened death metal, especially "Chasms of Creation;" the riff that kicks in near the mid point is pure Archgoat like devastation. It's an album which is at once very fast in tempo yet very measured in delivery, using a constant wave of blast and thrash beats as a hypnotic base for very slow developing tracks which take their time to reveal all their glory.

Raw to the Rapine also has riffs. Lots of killer, killer riffs. And even more importantly, it knows how to use them, when to change them and when to bring them back. There are times when, especially in black metal, bands don't know when to quit and drag things out just a hair too long or not long enough. It takes a very talented song writer to know when the perfect time is to change things up and keep momentum moving forward, and Tukaaria mastermind Austin Delgadillo really has a masterful sense of spacing and timing on this album. "Prehistoric Silence" is the perfect example of this, always moving forward yet effortlessly progressing through various gorgeous riffs of melodic and dissonant variety, without ever slowing down for even a second yet never becoming tiresome.

The vocals are also noteworthy in the power and diversity of their delivery. Delgadillo doesn't do anything unheard of; high shrieks, mid range roars, deep growls and clean chants all make up the vocal attack. Like the music itself however, it's all about the power of the delivery. Delgadillo is an impassioned, devastating vocalist who simply dominates the record every time his lips part to reveal the beast within. In fact, the final track, the weakest by far, suffers the most from this lack of what makes Raw to the Rapine so great: speed and vocals. A mid-paced musical outro, it has a third the atmosphere of the faster tracks and passes without much remark. It is the lone blemish, and a minor one, but brings the album down a bit near the end.

That's a nitpick if I ever saw one though. Raw to the Rapine is as masterful and enjoyable as any raw black metal album ever to come from the USA. From the production to the song writing to the overall package, this album offers a special glimpse into what makes American black metal such a sadly underrated and under appreciated scene. Fans of this genre looking for a fresh take on old ideas should certainly give this album their time, and any fan of dynamic, powerful riffs should be impressed. Raw to the Rapine is worthy to stand with any modern black metal release.