I won’t lie, the EPs artwork is what grabbed my attention, and is a perfect example of why some bands really should go the extra mile to have some sort of interesting imagery or logo attached to their releases. I admit that I expected more of a death metal offering and not this highly blackened extreme, though. Thankfully, I was not let down with having the wrong impression at all. From the moment the beautiful piano notes on “Soundtrack to Rejection” bergan, I immediately had high hopes for something largely atmospheric, eventually capturing the astral isolation the aforementioned cover art enforces. The over four minute introduction takes its time to mold a cold yet wonderous world full of curiosity and regret, one able to sweep you away to the cosmos when you just shut your eyes and relax. It is, however, short lived, as the rest greets you with a world that of a nightmare.
“The Gossamer on the Wardrobe” assaults the listener with thin, sharp sounding riffs played at a furious pace with steady, similar sounding drums behind them. While the impact may not be as blunt as one might hope, it and the echoing effect on the distant rasps plays up a heated atmosphere alongside the additional keyboards that make the once astral projecting aura more of an inner personal hell, one that the kicks and fills of the drum kit command your head to obediently bob along to. It’s like early Dissection and Emperor at its haziest, and it works for this well paced, just under ten minute performance that grips you with burning hatred and frostbitten fear. Of course, much of that length is from the mid-paced chunk of doom that hits about half way through, littered with ritualistic drum patterns to keep you entranced until the dismal emptiness felt on “Soundtrack to Rejection” kicks back up with a bit of gothic flair as you head into the seven minute mark.
The Soundtrack to Rejection can slip between that ferocious black metal and the gripping sensation of cold astral plains similar to recent Eye of Solitude efforts. “Gazing Where Eyes Should Not” does a fantastic job at blurring the two most of the time with a slower, traditionally frostbitten second wave black metal approach. The additional keyboards continue to usher in a gothic era sensation, or at least an eerieness one might associate with later works from author H.P. Lovecraft by about five-and-a-half minutes in when the performance simplifies to a truly ominous presence, as if gazing upon the ancient ones in ‘At the Mountains of Madness’ first hand. Even at its most glorious about three minutes in, the steady firing of the drums against the moving keyboards paint an unsetteling presence without the venomous vocal style being attached. It works in the song’s favor given the sudden shift to traditional goth/darkwave about nine minutes in, creating a haunting conclusion that does tread away from the prior ten minutes, but damn if it isn’t catchy.
The only major gripe to be had with The Soundtrack to Rejection stems from “Stratus in the Sky”. While the keyboards play a large role in it, seemingly creating more of an electronica infused black metal effort with some folk thrown in for the hell of it, there are times were the pace picks up and uses the former of those two in a way that sounds more like something you’d hear from Winds of Plague or even early Abigail Williams despite the trudging doom metal passages that scrub your face like the most rigid of cheese graters. In a way, given the many changes that occur on this song, you could argue it to be more of an experimentation, or at the very least a progressive black metal piece, something that can be said for the soothing and stylish sounding “Mute Tongues”, but that still doesn’t change the fact that there are times it sounds a bit too upbeat to work with the desolation and gothic overtones of the release as a whole.
For as active as Brightly Painted Corpses is, this one-man project’s latest effort is a nice mixture of black metal worlds with very few aspects that leave you groaning with disgust. Each track carries itself so well into the double digit minute lengths that it becomes hard to walk away from a performance once it has started, taking the listener on a journey through space and time to crash land back into the frozen tundras in gothic eras, not to mention thematic carnivale terrains of days gone by thanks to the closing of “Mute Tongues”. There’s so much packed into this one recording, and almost all of it oddly works together. The best of those worlds, however, still stands as the first three songs, taking on a far more visceral approach when not dangling sub-space isolation directly in your face. It’s also available on Bandcamp [at the time of writing this review] as a “name your price” download, so there’s absolutely nothing to lose but some time discovering what could very well be a new USBM act to grace your must watch list.