I don’t mind saying right up front, this debut full-length from Belgium’s Druon Antigon is absolute brilliance. A one-man electronic/ambient black metal masterpiece, “Desontstijging” is unlike damn near anything my ears have ever experienced. At least not in the context of a single, coherent release.
The album opens like an Industrial nightmare, with multiple layers of circuitry-drenched atmospherics, guitars thick with delay, and both programmed and natural beats, blasting and popping like cosmic explosions, segueing in and out of mercurial and metallic sounds.
There are dive bombs into doom-like riffs, under the surface lead work mimicking air sirens, tremolo picking and screaming vocals traditional to black metal, as well as multiple tempo changes and shifts in mood that are anything but antiquated to the genre. These changes in time signature, truth be told, help Druon Antigon transcend genre entirely at points, which is rare in music of any kind.
For my money, the stand out track is “Weavess,” a twelve-plus minute slab of pulsating musical excellence. Beginning with the sound of a man lamenting the strangeness and undeniable order of the observable “heavens,” and how humans are affected by the existence of each celestial object, whether they realize this or not. Blast beats chime in along with a simple three-chord riff, which enhances the chaotic nature of the material. Before long, though the chords remain the same, the tempo changes, turning the seemingly straightforward black metal onslaught into more of an atmospheric doom piece, complete with echoing space aged electronic blips.
The entire record is ridiculously powerful, even during the quieter, more cinematic moments. In part because of the production, but mainly due to Druon Antigon’s mastery of subtlety.
Case in point: The album ends with a fade out, which I am not typically a huge fan of. I find them offensive as a listener, because they give the impression the artist doesn’t feel an audience is capable of sustaining attention for long enough to finish whatever point they set out to prove in the first place. However, when an artist uses the fade out effectively, with conviction and intention, it is nothing short of astonishing. Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man” is an excellent example, despite Cohen being far outside anything resembling Metal, because a well-written song is a well-written song, regardless of the instruments chosen to portray the songwriter’s story. In this case, I get the sense that whatever nightmare is currently going on throughout “Desontstijging” will continue to go on for quite some time.
Another win for the up and coming Onism Productions, who will hopefully release more music Druon Antigon soon. If you enjoy music that challenges as well as entertains, pick “Desontstijging” up immediately.