Sunday, December 11, 2011
Smohalla - "Resilience" (2011) [Arx Productions]
With their long-awaited full length, the magnificent Resilience, Smohalla lays absolute waste to the experimental underground. A meditation in simultaneous stylistic sound collage, at any given moment one might catch sonic glimpses of Romantic-era classical music, trance, 1950s alien movie soundtracks, jazz, and the ever-present metal base. Each listen of the heady, yet oddly catchy Resilience offers a new find, perhaps a layered electronic beat or a wild theremin track that was otherwise lost within the constant chaos with each new song. Resilience almost works like a puzzle, but the listener pieces it together over time. Never before have I listened to an album that yields so much discovery, and I absolutely love it.
A chief complaint I've had with what I consider to be "post-black metal" is the overall "circus" vibe bands like Sigh use, but fear not, for there are no clowns here. Resilience, if anything, sounds like a metallic translation of one of my absolute favorite albums of all time, Ulver's genre-defying Perdition City (frontman Slo's clean voice even sounds a bit like Garm's!). The jazz noir-oriented, "urban" atmosphere utilized by Smohalla on this album gives off an air of class, which is a quality many experimental metal bands seem to avoid.