Let me tell you something which you might already know but have most likely never heard stated directly: Master-baiting is incredibly easy. To set a Muppet trap, one only needs a handful of specific pearls to effectively get me off of one musical tangent and thrusted furiously into another. Slap the black metal tag on something, slather it in cvlt artwork and croon it to me in a foreign tongue and I’m about as sonically revved up as they come. The promo bin, tempting mistress that she be, whispered sweet nothings of Trono Além Morte’s full-length debut to me, and I jumped like I haven’t jumped on anything since prom night. O Olhar Atento de Escuridão had its way with me, and it trvly was prom night all over again:
Overhyped expectations brought to their knees by the crushing weight of reality, the frantic sense of entrapment that comes with being stuck somewhere I didn’t want to be, and the sense of shame that accompanies realizing that one has been both used and lied to. To be fair, the album didn’t run off and bang an entire traveling circus, animals and all, but art can only imitate life so much. What matters here is that you learn from my mistakes, lest you go and throw your time and standards away for the first cvlt thing that calls your name. O Olhar… isn’t the worst album in the world, but that’s about the best that I can say for it. I have to say a few more things if I wish to keep making loads of money, though, so I guess kiss and tell it is.
Where this is billed as straight up black metal and presents itself as such, without any guise of artsy atmospheric nonsense, the first red flag flared in the form of the song lengths. Traditional black metal is typically a brief, violent spasm, a sudden and messy affair not usually known for its longevity, yet here I’m seeing 7:10, 9:03, and fucking 10:29 right out the gate??? Indeed, the warning signs were there, but so was the most optimistic of the many voices which haunt my head hole. “How bad can it be?”, inquired that smug little fuck in his most encouraging of tones. “It’s not like it’ll just be ten minutes of nonstop wailing over lo-fi minor chords.” You’re right, asshole. They also have 7:10, 9:03, and three other-length tracks which do exactly that, as well. Maybe putting the biggest block of blackened bloat first and foremost was intended to make the following feel less drawn out, but for me it just set the mood, and sourly.
To make things that much harder, nothing that these anonymous Portuguese posers did aroused any kind of excitement from me. The hateful stank of Celtic Frost or early Burzum lingers heavily in the air, but only Varg could ever approve of the lifelessness exhibited by O Olhar. In trve fashion the recording quality similarly reeks of a brush with Varg, blurring the black stock music into something vaguely cacophonous and eerie yet never outright threatening. Monotone old-school black metal wails throughout with some slight variation into shriek territory on “Deserto da Desolação” and the title track: losing excitement. Plodding songs with minimal structural variation or exploration buried in a shit mix: pushing rope. A drawn-out and unnecessary interlude (“Pesadelos Quebrantes”) before a similarly drawn-out and unnecessary finale, which merely does everything that the album has already done before it finally fucking dies: blve balls.
O Olhar… is the black metal album that people who don’t listen to black metal are afraid of: it’s literally just incessant, unpleasant screaming over evil noise. If it wasn’t for “Pesadelos Quebrantes” and the title track, I don’t even know that I would recognize any of the individual songs apart from each other. Normally only over-the-line threats from the Angry Metal Editors can steer me towards brevity, but I can only say “makes the same shit noises for too long” in so many ways before even I feel like less would be more. It gives me no satisfaction whatsoever to listen to or describe this dead fish of an album, and no amount of alcohol could coax me back into its disappointing arms. The important part: I’m finished. You can leave now.
DR: 5-6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Signal Rex Records
Websites: Not worth a website, apparently
Releases Worldwide: December 21st, 2017