USBM one-man act Elegiac are releasing music at a faster rate than I can keep up with; since the original demo in 2014, the band have put out a further ten releases, including two full-lengths. That’s an incredible rate of releases, even more so conspiring there hasn’t been a bad one yet. Second album Edge Of Reason keeps up that trend, this time venturing in to repetitive, raw black metal territory. And even if it doesn’t show the same rate of improvement previous releases have, it’s still a step ahead of most of the rest of the black metal underground.
This is, perhaps, the most ‘American’ release of Elegiac’s so far. Whilst the main points of comparison may be European – Burzum, and Darkthrone’s A Blaze In The Northern Sky – they are filtered through an almost punk spirit and feel that is distinctly American. It may be cold and impersonal, but it’s the apathy and anonymity of big cities, rather than the chill of mountains and forests. This is reflected in the violence of tracks like “Strike The Hammer” – the lumbering riffs feel like a physical assault, rather than an icy wind. The album may take its lead from such frostbitten classics, but it takes the music in a subtly – but importantly – different direction, and when it gets its claws in you, it can be a very strong experience.
Edge Of Reason isn’t an unqualified success, though. The raw, powerful production does mean that some of the subtleties in the music can be hard to pick out, and subtle shifts in riffs and chords can be lost, making sections more feel more repetitive than they arguably should be. Given that no track (excluding interlude “Blood And Fire”) is shorter than five minutes, it means they have plenty of time to build atmosphere – but if the mood doesn’t quite take you, it does mean the tracks can feel like they drag a bit. Nor is it an album that will always pull you in – you have to work with it a little, and meet it halfway.
I’m aware that the above paragraph might sound quite negative, but I don’t want to give the wrong impression of Edge Of Reason. When the album is at its best, as on the title track, it is great. The problem – if it can be called that – is that, compared to previous Elegiac releases I have reviewed, Edge of Reason contains the sort of black metal that has been played by many bands over the past twenty years. As such, it’s naturally harder for it to stand out, as there is much less room for innovation. It’s a strong enough record, but one that I don’t think does full justice to what the band are capable of. But that said, if you’re the sort who thought that all that stood between Darkthrone and world domination was a halfway decent production, you might rate Edge Of Reason more highly than I.
Edge Of Reason can be streamed, downloaded, and purchased on cassette via Bandcamp.