Chasma: Declarations of the Grand Artificer

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Chasma: Declarations of the Grand Artificer
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Chasma: Declarations of the Grand Artificer
Black Metal
Moribund Records
November 22nd, 2011
Release length: 33:07
Myspace
Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Chasma is a two piece US Black Metal group that just formed back in 2008. Composed of Aaron Schomaker and Tony Komforty, both former members of Altar of Earth, the group has been hard at work on their debut full-length since dropping their self-titled demo recording back in 2009. Since then, the band has stuck to the underground and found a home for their album, Declarations of the Grand Artificer, through Moribund Records. But, does this effort composed of only three songs stand out amid the shadows of the underground, or is it another “kvlt” Black Metal release of stereotypical concepts?

Chasma doesn’t fall prey to the typical sounds of the underground Black Metal style, which is great to hear for the sake of this album’s atmosphere. While Declarations of the Grand Artificer may only be three songs long, it clocks in at just over thirty three minutes, and that’s important to know since this could be a deal breaker due to the audio quality. Of course, this release has a superb sound so rarely used that many modern bands of the sstyle with a melancholic atmosphere really need to use. The guitars come through clear and have a cleaner, yet heavier sound to them that plays well with the faster material, but more importantly with the atmospheric passages of the release that are typically a little slower. The bass comes through well enough to make a bit of an impact in the music, causing the guitars to become a little more blunt from it, and just add a deeper presence to the colder, liquid-like music that the band brings with them. The drums come through perfectly for this sort of release, especially during the trance-enducing slower passages. The cymbols can easily cause the listener to drift off due to the more white noise-esque sound they give off in the slightly raw audio quality, though still being somewhat clear and very important to the mix. The snares sund tight and echo well against some bass kicks that carry a somewhat loud thud to them that works with the deeper sound. Of course Chasma go into the direction more emotionally driven melancholic Black Metal acts have taken lately, such as Lifelover, and have a stronger, more depressing style of Black Metal wail, though in no way reaching into a whinier pitch or losing the more abrasive sound of the music.

There is a lot of good to be said about Declarations of the Grand Artificer, and barely anything negative. The album uses some audio samples of screaming and what sounds like bones breaking at times as well, which is how it all starts off. This does a great job setting up that despair ridden atmosphere at the kick of “Daystar Angelwar,” though with such a punishing introduction to the track, it’s a little hard to sit back and let the song go into a slower atmospheric approach so suddenly. But, it does, and there’s nothing too bad about it aside how badly it is shifted in. These slower sections are great when used right, and for much of the first half on this song it creates a frostbitten sound that comes off sleek like covered in ice, yet with a bit of a primal slight raw aggression to it in the audio and music. The variety used in both the brutality and overall grim tones of the music really keep the just shy of eleven and a half minutes track enjoyable for the most part. However, one of the problems that sticks out here is that, after a while, the slower music starts to become a bit drawn out, though not to the point where it ruins the song or anything.

“Shadowbend” makes for a song with plenty of better transitions in it, though it largely is just slower, atmospheric Black Metal with a melancholic tough of frostbite sans the seemingly random spurts of aggression. Like “Daystar Angelwar,” there are some screaming audio samples mixed in with the haunting simple guitar chords of the start, growing louder as the song builds to a louder Lifelover-esque emotionally driven song. Along with the better transitions, this song also includes some catchy material that will have your head banging along, which it didn’t do on the previous track. This track shows the band more in their comfort zone then the long songs, finding the material just shy of ten minutes without the track feeling a little bogged down with transitions that don’t work too well or just drawn out moments. “Blue Jewel Destruction” on the other hand shows a just shy of twelve minute song that has some better transitions at play then “Daystar Angelwar,” as well as some more solid material in comparison as well, but it does end up feeling a little dragged out by the last few minutes. Overall though, the additional whispering audio samples that sound ghastly fit the vibe of the song, though the music for the song does’t really seem to capitalize that much on it. The tone of the song feels a little more lighter then the other two, which also doesn’t work with the aforementioned audio samples.

In the end, Declarations of the Grand Artificer is far from a bad atmospheric and melancholic Black Metal offering, but it’s also not the most stunning. There’s plenty of positive things to say such as the atmospheres for the most part are well executed and the songs are gripping and even trance-enducing until it hits a certain point where they start to get a little drawn out. The obvious references to the more emotionally driven bands of the style are pretty clear, but it’s more an homage to the inspiration then flat out carbon copy of another act, and the sound quality works to really help create that slick ice-like sound to the music which just makes it all sound colder. Chasma does a pretty good job of putting together some good songs, and with these three tracks it’s clear the band is only going to grow and evolve. If you’re a fan of this brand of Black Metal, then Declarations of the Grand Artificer is something worth checking out. It’s nothing jaw dropping or awe-inspiring, but it still has some strong material either way.

01. Daystar Angelwar – 11:29
02. Shadowbend – 9:40
03. Blue Jewel Destruction – 11:59
Overall Score: 7.5/10
Chasma (Band)
Chasma (Logo)
Digital review copy of this release provided by Moribund Records.