If you’re reading this, it’s already too late. When the respective hazes of gun smoke and cranial-injury clear, you’ll find your army of feral pigs disposed of and your fortress reduced to rubble; I even sang Porcupine Tree as everything burned to the ground, how’s that for brutal, yo? Anyway, you knew this was coming. You had something of mine – that’s right, had. Not only are you down a fortress and a pig army, but you’ll also find yourself no longer in possession of Avast‘s Mother Culture. This thing couldn’t be more Muppety if it tried, and by Jørn I simply could not allow such a thing to risk a sensible, objectively sound rating when I haven’t been able to properly and possibly inappropriately praise a piece of post-black poetry in practically phorever. What’s done is done, yo, but allow me to paint you a picture of just what you’ve lost.
Given that Avast are a fledgling blackgaze act in the year of our Jørn 2018, you probably thought that you had yet another Deafheaven clone on your hands. An understandable assumption, to be sure, yet Mother Culture is no Newer Bermuda. Sure, it has its moments of unfettered Alcest worship; Avast often shift from shimmering post-metal serenity to evil blackened nastiness, and at its core Mother Culture is very much an atmoblack album. However, where many bands within the genre are content to slap together a handful of repetitive and trope-laden passages and call it an album, these Norwegians craft songs which actually progress and explore themselves, the end result being 40 minutes of adventurous and enjoyable black metal instead of Ghost Bath v 7.0. What’s more, the production is actually warm and alive rather than frozen to lo-fi death or else mechanically rendered sterile: this shit not only sounds good, it also, like, sounds good.
To that end, Avast‘s sound could be described as something to the effect of Woman is the Earth meets Downfall of Gaia. There’s a certain sinister sense of seriousness to it all; the songs sound significant and somehow superior to the music ov mere mortals. This is not (just) to gush about the album, but also an attempt to describe the monolithic, otherworldly atmosphere of Mother Culture: the black metal aspects recall the brooding malevolence of Darkthrone and early Ulver, while the post/atmospheric bits come from a strange sonic space somewhere between the reverberating resonance of Unreqvited and the dense delirium of Départe. The harsh Anagnorisish vocals lend themselves remarkably well to the larger-than-life feel of the album, and with various death- and doom metal shadings applied throughout to keep things interesting, Avast‘s take on atmospheric black metal is brutal and progressive enough that you might have mistook it for something Kronos-friendly, except fuck that. Chea, this is Muppet music.
Had you been able to keep your grubby mitts on this blackened gem, oh Brutal One, the dynamic songwriting of Mother Culture would likely have surprised the shit and moss-peeping expectations right out of you. Though not on the level of such legends as Ulver – yet, anyway, for this be but the debut – it’s clear that these lads took note of their countrymen’s engaging and varying compositional structures and chose to go about things more in that way, rather than waffling on incessantly to one rhythm per track as has largely become customary in atmoblack. Each song is a blackened landscape, replete with valleys and mountains and cool shit like swamps and forest fires and a gateway to Hell. Given that the average track length nears seven minutes, this sense of versatility is given ample room to romp its way through each sonic adventure; in turn the songs never become stale, and the album flows forward feeling fresh and fun forfuckingever.
Now that you know what you’ve lost, you must also know that I’m certain to overrate this fucker. It can’t be helped! Most atmoblack thrives as a rehash of itself with vaguely differing artwork, the good ones being those who steal more successfully than others; this thing thrives through actually exploring itself, largely following the trails ov the genre yet frequently meandering into other territories and arriving at the end ov a blackened rainbow every time. You should have killed me when you had the chance, yo, for I solemnly swear that I am up to no good and have zero intentions of giving this thing anything resembling the eloquent and objective treatment you would have delivered. No, Mother Culture gets a velvety tongue-bath, and you get sub-par grindcore. Justice, yo.