There are some albums that scream out for a review… Opeth‘s Sorceress was certainly in no danger of being overlooked. We toyed with you a little, made you wait, but it was on the cards you’d get a review – eventually. The Black Scorpio Underground‘s Necrochasm will never be one of those “sought-after” albums. In fact, it’s tough to even mention these two bands in the same review, purely because they’re complete opposites. Where Opeth builds texture from beautiful progressions, The Black Scorpio Underground grinds away using only industrial noise and shock tactics. Let’s just say, this is not for the faint of heart! Best I can surmise, The Black Scorpion Underground operate out of Long Beach, Southern California, and they got their start in 2009 with their debut, Attica. The three years following, saw the band polluting the inter-webs with a series of EP’s, full releases and splits. A brief hiatus followed, with their next big release rocking up 2015, an almighty split with the mysterious and unnamed entity only known as T.O.M.B. With little to no other introduction to The Black Scorpio Underground it’s time to get this show on the road.
During a lecture on experimental music, John Milton Cage Jr. described music as “a purposeless play” one which is “an affirmation of life – not an attempt to bring order out of chaos nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply a way of waking up to the very life we’re living.” A fine way to introduce Necrochasm. “Garden of Mutilated Saints” introduces quickly, going from nothing to something like a disk grinder eroding metal, grating, sharp and full of sparks. To the unappreciative the track will just seem displeasing, tearing away at your ear drum. That’s not the case – for the duration of the track there are subtle fluctuations in intensity, new layers and textures manipulated, broken up by uncomfortable silences. By way of comparison, this and the tracks that follow, have some similarity to bands like Lustmord (Stalker (with Robert Rich) and Purifying Fire) and T.O.M.B.
It’s important to understand that Necrochasm is an album that needs to play out in its entirety for the full effect to be realized. “Mortuum” (previously of Black Crypt Worship) and “Slave” are perfect continuations of the opener. Beginning with stark minimalism, both tracks introduce well-timed jolts, consisting of cold cacophony, out of place melody, bestial roars and siren-like screams. The overriding calmness executed within the tracks making the harsh sections stand out that much more violently. Both tracks induce discomfort musically and physically – it’s a necessary evil though, without it they would not come to quite the excruciating and bitter end they come to. “She Who Cannot be Saved” and “Venereal Liturgy” (previously part of Black Crypt Worship) are more removed from their predecessors. Both progressions follow a more ambient path, “She Who Cannot be Saved” opening with a Nightsatan-like hum and “Venereal Liturgy” going the mechanical route. By using a minimalist approach, peppering the track with only subtle electrical crackles and pops, you’re hypnotized by thoughts of pointlessness and despondency.
“Hall of 1000 Degradations” follows the path of “Mortuum” and “Slave.” For maximum shock-factor, a demonic voice takes front and center stage. The delivery is stinging, has a deception about it, leaving an acerbic taste behind. With the harmonics becoming crueler, the back-end of the track is dominated by child-like monologue, the delivery so animated that it’s perplexing, a growing sense of perversion getting well under your skin by this point. The song peters out with a rock-styled beat and an easy listening edge that completely contradicts what you’ve experienced to now. Nechrochasm comes to a close with “Whore ov the Black Sun,” an atmospheric piece in the same vein as predecessor “She Who Cannot be Saved.” It’s a decent offering that continues to shift and grow in intensity and distortion, though with a more subtle approach. It’s also the first time that I’m left feeling that the band have extended something beyond its usefulness.
I can’t say that Necrochasm is a pleasant or comfortable listen, and I can’t in good faith say that this is an album that I’ll return to on a daily basis. It’s an album that I’ve enjoyed immensely and there’s very little about it that I would like changed. Necrochasm is the kind of album that transports you into, and shows you, the ugly side of life. It’s a beast that comes at you full force, tearing itself open, pouring its guts onto the table for you to revel in and then, when its spirits broken, it retreats to lick its wounds.
DR: 3 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Husk Records | Prison Tatt Records
Websites: theblackscorpiounderground.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/theblackscorpiounderground
Releases Worldwide: October 28th, 2016