Amnutseba – Emanatism Review

It’s black metal. I can already hear you, as you’re sitting on a toilet or diving into another cup of joe: “Jesus, DH, another black metal album?” Set down that coffee and throw up those fucking devil horns, because fvck yes, motherfvkker. Buckle up, bitch, cuz it’s about to get kvlt as f́v̂ķḱ. No members listed? Check. From central Europe somewhere? Check. Have creepy shit on the cover? Check. I have a soft spot for black metal, but an even softer spot for this particular breed, captured in acts like Ancient Moon, Death. Void. Terror., and Hwwauoch:1 mysterious, dense, and dissonant. Maybe it’s audio torture, maybe it’s noise, maybe it’s disorder, maybe it’s Maybelline, but it hits a sweet spot in my hollow soul, a puzzle to be solved, a masochistic present to be unwrapped, a call from the halls of the abyss. And boy howdy, does Amnutseba fit the bill.

Amnutseba is a “lacerating ‘n labyrinthine” black metal group from Paris. After releasing a couple demos, re-released in vinyl as compilation I-VI, they reemerge to release Emanatism, a devastating tour-de-force packed to the brim with noisy ideas. What separates it from any other Deathspell Omega– and Satan-worshiper? It is, in a word, unhinged. Contrary to the relatively serene songwriting of earlier demos, it harnesses utter chaos, packing crushingly unpredictable riffs, layers of insane vocals, and a dense smog of noise and ambiance, in the span of a tidy thirty-seven minutes. While it’s imperfect, this spiral of madness is worth many trips to peel back its bloody layers.

It feels unfair to pigeonhole Amnutseba as just another Deathspell Omega worshiper. While comparisons are inevitable, DsO relies on dread, while Emanatism emphasizes madness and rawness, creating dynamic ambient swells only to backhand them with riffs like rusty monkey wrenches. Examples include the raw plucking interrupted by chaotic riffs, arrhythmic blastbeats, and layers of vocals on opener “Abstinence,” or jarring moments of serenity contrasted placed throughout the absolutely concussive “Ungrund.” In that way, Emanatism feels almost mathy, and the arrhythmic riffs beneath tribal percussion in “Dislumen” complement. Similarly, closer “Tabula” would almost feel melodeath in its central riff were it not for its virulent, morbid dissonance. Similarly, its Gregorian chant overtone and choral synths resemble a darker Batushka, ending the album with surprising clarity and portent. Melodies throughout resemble the challenging dissonance of Icelandic groups like Wormlust and Skáphe–almost distorting the definition of melody itself into a worm-like thing that writhes and squelches deep within human consciousness. Vocals reflect this bastardization further, with screeches, growls, moans, shouts, and barks all constituting the disturbing palette. With all the Deiphagos and Tetragrammacides and their mindless beatdowns of the world, it’s refreshing that Amnutseba can harness pure chaos and devastating melody and make them sound intentional in the portrayal of madness. Emanatism’s production is also of note, as all instruments contribute to the overwhelming pummeling palette, allowing dissonant melodies and deranged vocals to emerge like ghosts from the toothed fog.

While Emanatism’s strength lies in its layered attack, its setback lies in what also makes it appealing: its promise. Simply put, Amnutseba is no veteran to the scene, and while their sound suggests a unique take on blackened dissonance, the act is still young. Songwriting, particularly within the passages of stillness, showcases the moments of inconsistency. “Dislumen” is a prime example, as its more emphasized meditative quality gives way to jarringly different snare tones as well as directionless meandering. Meanwhile, “.” serves as an excellent interlude, but its explosion of riffs and step towards a full-fledged song are disappointingly short-lived. This questions the album’s dynamic, as the best in “Abstinence” and “Ungrund” are exercises in unrestrained laceration, while “Dislumen” and “Tabula” feel relatively tame.

If you’re a lover of obscure and gross black metal, you’ll find a lot to love with Emanatism. Sure, it’s not the best example of its style and for now Amnutseba remains in the shadow of dissonant giants, but these Frenchmen show a hell of a lot of promise in their decidedly relentless and layered attack. Explosions of instrumental chaos layered with textures of noise and multiple disturbing vocal tracks, a dense and pitch-black tone that hits something deep within, Emanatism is certainly worth a spin, and a feasible one at thirty-seven minute. Forsaking black metal stereotypes in favor of waves of dissonant blackened fury, I can stamp my hollow fist of kvlt approval, even if its promise howls slightly louder than its offering.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Iron Bonehead Productions
Releases Worldwide: March 27th, 2020

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  1. Or any constituents of the Prava Kollektiv, for that matter.
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