The West Coast has recently been overhauled by scene-worshipping bands. Sure, I've probably ranted about "Cascadia" before, but it's really getting out of hand. I understand the appeal of the style and, sure, some of the bands are taking the style to new places and making cool music, but, in the end, they're just rerecording Weakling's "Dead as Dreams" with pagan and nature-oriented lyrics and post-rock tone sensibilities. Of course, thank heavens, Southern California has been giving me a little hope, especially with the pitch-black depths of the "Black Twilight Circle," among others.
Breaking the mold are Southern California bands, At Dusk and Idolater. At Dusk is the new project of robe-clad solo musician Korihor, also of psychedelic doom metal band Folivore, whereas Idolater, though in existence since 2000, has one full-length under its belt already (and two in the trash can).
At Dusk's side reminds me of Xasthur back in its prime ("To Violate The Oblivious") but a bit more chaotic and with an obvious psychedelic folk influence. Over the many layers of fuzzed-to-death guitar walls and distant vocals are the occasional flute lead and maybe some synthesizer pads (though it is hard to distinguish). It is nice to hear a bit of rumbling from my subwoofer whilst listening to a "depressive" black metal tape (Jon's note: whoever coined the term "depressive" black metal should be shot; what a horrible grammatical abomination), even if it is just from the kick drum. Everything is, as style dictates, soaked in reverb and delay, giving it that timeless "washed out" sound. Though At Dusk's side isn't really anything "new" stylistically, it definitely has some memorable moments (the driving "End of Being" is a real head-bobber) and I look forward to hearing more material.
Idolater's side is a bit of a challenge. Yes, the music itself is pretty awesome, perhaps a little reminiscent of seminal Swedish band Dawn, but the vocals might be a little too much. Where At Dusk has a pretty solid understanding of space between vocal lines, The Idolater doesn't really shut up, and it's a real shame. Due to his incessant anti-Christian and hypersexual lyrics, it is almost easy to miss a catchy lead or a climax. Yes, Idolater, we get that you don't like God and you'd like to do perverse things to his followers, we've heard it all before, but maybe let your music speak for you a little more next time.
So, in the end I ended up rather liking At Dusk's side of this split, which was a nice surprise, but I was left disappointed by Idolater's efforts. It is easy to understand just what he was going for, but it is easy to go overboard with the whole "Christ-raping" black metal approach. There are still some copies of the tape left if you hunt down the artists on myspace, but the original 50 copies imbued with Korihor's blood are all gone.