The Projectionist – Under the Cruel Glow of Terror Review

Every year is the same. I write reviews all summer long, getting into a rhythm in the hopes that I’ll be able to continue these habits into the school year, but every year—nope. I need to take a week, sometimes two, to adjust to kids, staff, and district breathing down my neck before I can hit the ground running with a new batch of fall promos. So with all this going on, a new learning management system, and COVID looming at our doors, I pray to the Metal Gods above that they bless me with something good as I shuffle through perpetual exhaustion for two weeks. Will The Projectionist shed some light on my gloom?

The Projectionist is a Canadian black metal quintet from Edmonton, Alberta, formed in 2015 and releasing five LPs and a slew of other material since. Funnily enough, sneaky EP Under the Cruel Glow of Terror is not The Projectionist’s first 2020 release, as full-length The Stench of Amalthia came out in April. Professing a style they deem as “Shakespearean,” they sport members from The Black Sorcery, Path to Extinction, Unrest, Blasphemous Covenant, and Thy Sepulchral Moon, to name a few.1 Dipping toes in raw black, thrash, noise, and doom, Under the Cruel Glow of Terror has potential, building its influences atop raw black tremolo riffs and Lörd Matzigkeitus’ formidable vocals. The Metal Gods give and they take away, and through The Projectionist, they have robbed me of some much-needed optimism.

Under the Cruel Glow of Terror is an exercise in comparisons. In spite of a lack of anything memorable, the doomy “Butterbox Coffins” and “Tragedy of Jars” are better than “Skeletal Shone the Vengeance of True Evil,” but neither are as solid as single “Pythagorean Deadlocked.” It shows off a solid thrash riff that would feel right at home in an early Wintersun album with flourishes of melody amid the blaze—although its sloppiness and overly repetitive nature prevents it from truly soaring. Similarly, closer “All Grace Expunged from Living” would be a solid thrashy track were it not for the nauseating repetition of its central riff. To his credit, Lörd Matzigkeitus has an interesting take on blackened shrieks, as they feel nearly reptilian and more sinister than what has come to be expected within black metal.

However, these positives are small potatoes compared to the entirety of this goopfest. Each track is very shoddily constructed, as vocals and instrumentals are often out of sync and only one riff dominates the entire runtime, leading to glaring monotony. It’s difficult to place what style The Projectionist thrives in, as they bounce around between raw black, noise, thrash, and doom-like ping pong balls. While Lörd Matzigkeitus’ vocals are solid, he cannot be expected to carry the band, so his supporting cast feels woefully amateurish. Alongside other tracks’ aforesaid faults, “Tragedy of Jars” features operatic cleans that are painfully off-pitch, turning from sinister to awkward in one fell swoop; and “The Howling Ceased” features a horrendously produced and jarringly arrhythmic riff. Track “Skeletal Shone the Vengeance of True Evil” is particularly noteworthy, kicking down the door into blatantly painful territory. While vocally interesting, it channels the worst of An Axis of Perdition and Ulveblod for a track that repeats the same riff with overlapping vocals and overlays of noise for an earache of the worst variety. Under the Cruel Glow of Terror’s production values are tragic, as wimpy popcorn snare tone and bad black riffs are about as tasty as toothpaste and orange juice.

Under the Cruel Glow of Terror is not what I needed as I was beginning school, but nonetheless it remains a cautionary tale on the importance of balance and consistency. Vocally, it’s admirable, but its instrumentals somehow invoke scattershot and clusterfuck simultaneously. In spite of its 28-minute runtime, it feels nearly impossible to get through, as it never seems to find its footing to offer anything listenable. Instead of a “Shakespearean” play, we get a variety show in which each awkward act ends and another begins before we have a chance to process any of it. To add insult to injury, The Projectionist seems about as clueless as we are, repeating frail riffs ad nauseam. With the exception of “Skeletal Shone…”, Under the Cruel Glow of Terror feels largely unguided rather than offensive, undeveloped rather than hopeless, and incoherent rather than despicable. However, this does not excuse The Projectionist’s impossibly painful listen—one whose experience belies its quality.

Rating: 1.0/5.0
DR: 11 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Moribund Records
Websites: |
Released Worldwide: August 28th, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. Vocalist Lord Matzigkeitus’ solo project is also due out in September.
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