Sear Bliss are a black metal band from Szombathely, Hungary. They have been active since 1993, founded by vocalist (who is also the) bassist (who plays some) keyboardist Andras Nagy. Eternal Recurrence is their seventh full-length album. Sear Bliss began recording Eternal Recurrence in late July of 2011 and spent two months in the studio. Known for their complex and multi-layered instrumentation, the band have incorporated wind and brass instruments into their sound, as well as synthesizers. With Eternal Recurrence, Sear Bliss are opting for an even more progressive, experimental approach to black metal.
The group have clearly set out to challenge themselves, and that’s immediately apparent in the album’s narrative, which unfolds like a classic adventure tale. Each song builds upon the last. For instance, “Ballad of the Shipwrecked” changes tempo frequently, battering the listener with time changes as though buffeted by waves. “Great Cosmic Disorder” follows, a slower, steadier, brooding piece gathering strength and determination. The tone of the album ebbs and flows, with moments of intensity and conflict giving way to calmer, deeper sections spent in introspection. This creates a series of crescendos that draws the listener along as surely as a skilful plot.
Sear Bliss use black metal as an anchor, a way to tether and define their sound. This is most apparent in the drumming and shrieked vocals. Thus leashed, however, they allow their songs to spiral out to the end of that rope, “turning and turning in the widening gyre” like the image of chaos in Yeats poem “The Second Coming.” Their riffs often initially take the shape of classic buzz-and-swell black metal, such as in “A Lost Cause,” but quickly fracture into stranger, more progressive forms. The atypical instrumentation adds to this as well, the sparkle and glint of the brass section adding a completely different kind of robust energy to the black metal gloom.
The greatest strength of Eternal Recurrence, without a doubt, is the rich, complex textures. Sear Bliss fold rich layers of sound over and over each other to create a dense sonic atmosphere that surrounds and fully envelops the listener. The production matches this perfectly, giving Eternal Recurrence precisely the correct amount of space to properly stretch out, but not so much that it becomes diluted. It is a strange album, but strange within distinct limits, leading the listener on a difficult journey, but ensuring that they emerge at the other end, blinking but unscathed.