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Twilight - III: Beneath Trident's Tomb - 65%

Witchfvcker, April 24th, 2014

The ultimate USBM supergroup, Twilight has seen a host of notable black metal and sludge-artists come and go. The list of musicians formerly serving in its ranks includes Blake Judd (Nachtmystium), Scott Conner (Xasthur), Aaron Turner (Isis), and Tim Lehi (Draugar). For their third and final album, Beneath Trident’s Tomb, the line-up consists of Imperial (Krieg), Jef Whitehead (Lurker Of Chalice, Leviathan), Stavros Giannopoulos (The Atlas Moth), Sanford Parker (Minsk), and curiously Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth). As the newest addition to the group, Moore is reportedly a long-time black metal enthusiast, which would explain his somewhat incongruous appearance here.

Despite, or perhaps because of featuring an impressive range of great musicians, Twilight has never quite found an identity of their own. Their self-titled debut was a decent yet ultimately unremarkable piece of atmospheric black metal, with the sophomore branching out into post-sludge but never quite reaching the sum of its parts. Three albums in, and they still feel like a collective of creative minds all pulling in different directions at once.

For Beneath Trident’s Tomb, the black metal has been stripped down to its raw bare bones, and a Godflesh-tinged industrial flavor is co-piloting. The songwriting is divided amongst all the members, with Whitehead (aka Wrest) doing double duty on bass and drums. Consequently, the traditional black metal segments are often reminiscent of the menacing drones of Leviathan. These moments, as in the lumbering “A Flood Of Eyes”, are highlights of the album. Here the riffs are complemented by distorted buzzing keys and strange irregular drum patterns. The result is schizophrenic and occasionally demented, adding a welcome element of the bizarre to the fairly fundamental black metal.

At other times, the experimental-sounding keys and noise are hideously out of place. Worst of them all is the closing number “Below Lights”, a failed attempt at corrosive industrial metal. The recent debut of Corrections House, another supergroup featuring Parker, pulled off similar industrial sludge with some degree of coherence. Twilight seem to add layers of distorted noise just because they can, alternatively to assure that each member is constantly occupied. The result is a remarkably dense sound, yet it’s difficult to shake the feeling that there’s too much going on at the same time. The cliché of less being more seems to have escaped these chaps, and the muddy production isn't helping things. A wall of noise should preferably focus on the wall, not the noise. Not so on Beneath Trident’s Tomb, which is at times a tortuous listening experience.

Declared as the band’s final breath, Beneath Trident’s Tomb is a display of seasoned musicians who are willing to take chances. Although reinvention can be commendable, many of the attempted transgressions here only reduce the impact of their art. As the end of a trilogy, it’s disappointing that these guys never reached the levels of excellence that their individual members have proven capable of. In many ways, Twilight are an embodiment of how creative minds don't necessarily work well together with others of their ilk. The effort is worth it for the scattered moments of restrained black industrial aggression, but is too inconsistent to attain any real eminence.

Written for The Metal Observer