“Noise” is a term often used to describe metal by those who haven’t yet submersed themselves in the genre. When you’re not used to being assaulted by distortion and screams, the whole panoply of extreme genres undoubtedly poses a seemingly impenetrable thicket of bloodied thorns; it seems insane that people would choose to settle in such an environment, make their homes there, and grow the forest ever greater. Yet even within the forest there are distinct layers: a canopy of traditionally heavy metal, with an understory of death metal and a dense and polluted underbrush of more blackened and brutal music still. Indian are the fetid leaf litter of the forest, the floor of grimy, wet, compacted remains where plantae gives way to fungi and fungi to bacteria. They give noise a good name. From every pore, this music excretes static and dissolves itself, drawing from doom, black metal and feedback to produce what could be the first great metal album this year.
From All Purity is the soundtrack of maceration, a hint of the voice of rot. From the very first claustrophobic phrases of “Rape” to the grimy final riff of “Disambiguation,” no modicum of comfort ever penetrates the thick cumulose of noise. “Rape” is an insolent title to open with, but its sheer disturbing, horrific energy quickly puts to rest any suspicion of the song’s purpose being shock value. Following up the threatening opener, the lushly ominous and overbearing opening of “The Impetus Bleeds” gives way to an almost somber composition, channeling exsanguination in such detail that you can almost see the reflections off of the pooling blood. To call these smothering songs atmospheric betrays how tightly the smoldering and crackling noise gathers around you. It’s not an atmosphere but rather a shroud. Every phrase is drawn out almost to the point of painfulness and very rarely does the rumble of overdrive and feedback remove its hands from your throat.
To a first time listener, Indian brings to mind both the discomforting droning of Altar of Plagues and more immediately, the organic power of Ulcerate. While the latter of the two creates a sense of the absolute and malignant power and entropy to force the listener to consider their own insignificance, Indian instead makes the most insignificant thing absolute. Instead of being huge, menacing and ambivalent, their music is deeply and intensely invested in a specific horror. In order to invoke this, they do exactly what Ulcerate does not; instead of constantly shifting drumming, off kilter riffs and blistering speed, every riff is painfully burned through over a long stretch of low-tempo, repetitive and unusually minimalistic, yet powerful drumming, which restrains from using any double bass whatsoever until the immense dying moments of “Disambiguation.” It makes every song feel like a split second stretched out over painful years of recollection.
Rather than dazzling, this record keeps its performances restrained, yet deeply emotive, disturbing and intertwined. Doom-laden riffs entrench themselves within the ever-present strata of static while the bass speaks in understated tones, creating lines so cohesive that they seem almost subconscious. The sheer cohesiveness of noise, riffing, lurching drums and tortured vocal work is mesmerizing. The gurgling, crackling screams and shrieks seem to have burrowed their way out of the music even in their most abstract setting, the almost formless but somehow hypnotic textured mass of static and noise that is “Clarify.” They hold weight, but never take precedence over the body of sound.
Listening to “Disambiguation,” my gaze is drawn to the desk in front of me and to a small packet of mouse bones, disarticulated and broken, matted in places with fur that was plastered onto them in the gizzard of an owl. The bones are petty, filthy, and tiny; they were, post-digestion, packed together violently enough to force a phalanx into the sinus cavity and thrust vertebra into the eye sockets. They exude digestion and decay, but even in their bent and shattered forms there is a kind of beauty, morbid yet transfixing. Their every millimeter carries something of the tiny life that was extinguished long before they came to me. From All Purity shares this sort of disturbing power, the feeling of being totally enveloped and consumed by a cosmically insignificant tragedy. Without question, Indian have produced something truly moving and disturbing, and I hesitate little in saying, even with such an early release date, that From All Purity has landed itself a spot on my year-end list. [Anyone gonna ask why he has mouse bones on his desk? — Steel Druhm].