“Avant-garde” is a term that I see used a lot for all styles of extreme metal bands these days, but does it have meaning anymore? The actual definition when used as an adjective means “of or relating to the experimental treatment of artistic, musical, or literary material.” When you consider this definition & how much extreme metal has grown & progressed in several decades – when “experimental” is now one of two standard sounds for the modern metal band – is it still truly avant-garde? Let’s argue that it is an appropriate term, that so long as a band is deviating from the traditional style of their respective genre then they are indeed performing avant-garde music. In this case, Misanthropic Rage represents my favorite variation of black metal, so well it’s almost to a fault.
Let it be known that I’m an advocate of black metal peppered with other influences. From avant-garde to post-black metal & all other variations in between, I’ll take it all before the traditional variety at any given opportunity. That being said, Misanthropic Rage concocts a highly emotional experience that blends well a wide variety of influences – from clean to raspy chanting (reminiscent of Trickster G. Rex), from grooving thrash to death infusion, from clean acoustic to swirling blackened mayhem; all with a flurry of individualism in between. Igne Natura Renovatur Integra takes me on an enthralling trip through the cosmos, safely from the comfort of my own home.
The production is crisp, giving power to every element of the music, allowing for it all to be heard with brilliant clarity. Some of the percussive work is unconventional, in that I don’t often hear cymbals used in the same manner as they are here. “Become A God-Man” is a prime example, with exciting flourishes of the hi-hat & ride accentuating the feeling of exquisite decay provided by the dissonant guitars which are reminiscent of some of the better work of Blut Aus Nord. Throughout the album are beautiful solos giving weight to what is already a thoroughly mesmerizing experience. There’s even a traditional heavy metal backbone on “I.N.R.I.”, while fleshed out by deathly blackness. Although programmed, the drums have a very organic sound to them, which is something you don’t often find. Since both band members are credited as vocalists I’m not sure who to praise here – although I am a fan of the entire vocal work on this release, this album contains some of my favorite clean vocals to date. All of this is quite an impressive feat for only 2 members to accomplish. One could be forgiven for assuming this is a 5 piece band based on the quality & detail of the music.
While the infectious vocals & acoustic guitar generally stand out in this style, it would do injustice to an album of this stature to be completely picked apart. It must be taken as a whole, in one deep breath – like the first breath during a trip to the mountains after being stuck in the city for a while. This is an album that I have immediately fallen in love with, and although still fresh on my mind & in my playlist, I feel it will age as well as a top-shelf scotch. Fortunately we can obtain Igne Natura Renovatur Integra at a bargain price & don’t have to wait forty years for it to mature as it’s available now. While I can’t recommend this album enough, it could be a lot to take in at once if you’re not familiar with avant-garde black metal & I could see it becoming potentially draining to those used to a more traditional sound. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, I highly recommend taking this journey with Misanthropic Rage at least once so long as you have an open mind. They offer a refreshing take on an already refreshing style.