When last this great Hall ov ours was graced by The Negative Bias, I was pretty pissed off; how dare these Austrians arrive outta left field with such a straight-up banger like Lamentations of the Chaos Omega so close to list season? Their follow-up might be more considerately scheduled this time around, but I found myself just as angry when news of Narcissus Rising reached my ears. Hierarchically speaking, I would have to cover it — all two tracks and forty-two fvcking minutes ov it. Lamentations was magnificent, but a pair of twenty-plus minute tracks just sounds like work, yo, and Muppet ain’t about that. Nevertheless, the effects of waterboarding call of duty can not be ignored, so here we are… great. Let’s get this over with.

First, the good. While Lamentations showed us who these Austrians are, Narcissus is a 42-minute lesson in just what they can do. Turns out, that’s roughly everything; like Lamentations, Narcissus is a tour-de-force through the extreme metal spectrum, showcasing the band’s aptitude for blending jagged shards of death, doom and black metal into something hideously whole and wholly unholy. Head-banging riffs, skin-crawling atmospherics, disquieting ambient moments of ominous, droning calm… Narcissus runs the genre gamut as enthusiastically and effectively as Lamentations did, the key difference being the sprawling song structures this time around. These two tracks may seem imposing as all Hell on paper, but at their core, they’re both very much the same Negative Bias that we know and loathe love. A dash of Batushka chanting, a pinch of dissonant Ulcerate aggression and a healthy serving of Nightbringer psychosis are all thrown into this ungodly affair, and once again, it fucking works, yo.

Next, the also-good. While they didn’t exactly Winters Gate us, The Negative Bias definitely tried to pull a fast one by presenting Narcissus as two tracks. With its ebb and flow consistently redirecting the direction and sound of the song, “Narcissus Rising” can be pretty easily broken down to four tracks. These segments are masterfully melded together, to the point that even if they were divided into more digestible pieces they would all but demand to be played in sequence; this isn’t some monolithic mono-directional Monolithe offering that holds listeners prisoner to the same melody forever.1 The other track2 spends a little more time with its pieces, only containing two, maaaybe three distinct passages. Many are sure to flee from those run-times faster than Madam X when faced with power metal, but those who stick around will be treated to a delightfully harrowing ride full ov twists, turns and terrifying turbulence.

Lastly, the un-bad. While the dynamic songwriting on Narcissus certainly keeps these massive musical missives from getting stale, the signature sound that these Austrians are cultivating is fresh as fuck, yielding nothing but top-notch obsidian fury whether the listener sticks around for five minutes or the full forty-two. The deathy, blackened intensity of 9:00-13:00 of “Narcissus Rising” is among the most enjoyable chaos that I’ve heard all year, and the drumming… my Jørn, the drumming. Beyond how clear and killer the kit sounds, Florian Musil seems hellbent on doing as many drum things as possible within the ample time of each track; I.F.S.’s vocals are every bit as adventurous and venomous as ever, and S.T.’s violent and varied axe slinging is just as vibrant and marvelously vile as one can expect from the man behind such acts as Golden Dawn and Rauhnåcht, but Musil damn near steals the show here. Narcissus is the work of artists challenging themselves, something seemingly absent from some sections ov the metal scene but oh so very much appreciated here.

So it turns out I was a complete fucking idiot somewhat misguided in my apprehension of Narcissus. Realistically, The Negative Bias gave us the same amount of tuneage as they did with Lamentations,3 it’s just more intense this time and they’re essentially forcing you to experience all of it if you wish to experience any of it. I wouldn’t mind having the option to experience the aforementioned passage during “Narcissus Rising” at will, but frankly, the surrounding material is excellent enough that I genuinely don’t mind the somewhat demanding track lengths. You impatient bitches darling readers are likely to take umbrage all the same, and it is only out of wildly undeserved consideration for your attention spans that this thing ain’t getting a 4.0, but mark my words, yo: if you dug Lamentations and have the fortitude necessary to commit to its gargantuan tracks, you’re gonna fucking love Narcissus.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: ATMF
Websites: thenegativebias.bandcamp.com | exit-music.wixsite.com/thenegativebias | facebook.com/thenegativebias
Releases Worldwide: July 26th, 2019

Show 3 footnotes

  1. For the record, I typically dig Monolithe‘s output, this is merely to illustrate the more dynamic songwriting that The Negative Bias employ within their own colossal offerings.
  2. Namely, “Insomnic Sermons of Narcistic Afterbirth / At the Threshold Where Chaos Turns into Salvation.” It’s almost like those bastards wrote this without a single concern for my word limit, yo.
  3. If you view the tracks as segments as described, and consider that its total run-time is twenty seconds less than Lamentations, you’ll realize that the two albums offer nearly identical amounts of hateful goodness.