Occupying a space somewhere between an extended single release, an EP and an album, black metal outfit Necrovescent Ruiner absolutely goes for broke on their 2023 recording ‘Untouchable Faith Decay’. A concept piece, it features just one singular twenty seven minute number. In some ways, and on its surface, this presents the ultimate extreme metal assault; in others, it’s a very progressive way of tying together various musical moods – and for those able to tune in and spend time deconstructing the arrangement, it actually plays like four or five separate pieces, despite not including separate tracks.
Fading in with feedback, the first impression is that of an abrasive score for a Euro horror, and the way the sheet of guitars weaves in and out of a drone is instantly cool. The cold and ambient sound builds in a way that accelerates the intensity, eventually peaking in a clattering noise that makes it feel as everything has almost immediately collapsed. This is just an easy way of breaking into a more traditional black metal sheet of noise – and a pure noise, indeed, it is. The abrasive guitar work stays on the side of cool, but the cheap production leaves the drums half buried to the point they sound like a basic industrial racket. For those who’ve overdosed on the grindcore end of black metal over the years, there’ll still be some merit in this, but the accompanying vocal – a distorted, wavering, retching sound that growls incessantly – will absolutely kill the project for the less patient.
It isn’t until almost five minutes in that the first clear melody arrives, and the addition of a harder, doomier sounding guitar to the chaos at least adds something more palatable, even though it is not entirely melodic. That musical respite is all too brief, as fairly soon after, another semi-industrial, abrasive black metal blast rises, and this time, Necrovescent Ruiner crank the volume accordingly. A world of death metal pneumatics collides with an extreme thrashiness, whilst the vocal conveys a man amid some kind of exorcism. The return of the uber-doom at 6:30 is a hugely welcome shift, and its here – assuming you’ve not given up – that this one-man project starts to shine once more. However, that shift into something more melodic is never much more than a tease, but hearing the biggest doom riff colliding with an escalating drone creates the briefest of dark-hearted excitement, before everything veers off into another pure blackgaze drone, and the vocals opt for a demented growl. For about thirty seconds, the listener is plunged into pure hell, and it’s likely that the one man behind Necrovescent Ruiner is gleeful at the unease this might cause.
By 9:30, any attempt at rhythm is abandoned for another wall of extreme feedback and more clattering, whilst the voice hacks its way through an indecipherable incantation, eventually landing somewhere where an excessive amount of feedback tortures ears for an eternity. Almost as if offering a reward for endurance, this is followed by the stand out moment where deep didgeridoo sounds are joined by atmospheric found sounds and a deep breathing – again, accentuating the horror themes from the opening passage. Very little happens here, but in lots of ways, the dark ambient approach is far preferable to the abrasive black metal. Whether it needs to fill a full four minutes is debatable, but at the other end, it’s all change once again, when a sheet of black metal guitar adds a different kind of ambient noise. Despite there being no real melody at the heart of this, it’s also preferable to the more traditional black metal at the start of this epic, since this too has a strange, soundtrack-like heart. Eventually, the drones are broken by a deep bass drum and more guttural chanting, by which point it starts to feel as if everything is becoming repetitive. From herein, Necrovescent Ruiner seems to be playing for time, with little more to say…and when the arrangement slowly crawls to an agonising death ten minutes later with a repeated howl of “distrust, distrust”, it’s hard not to question if the listener hasn’t been taken for a ride. Whatever, it’s certainly been a journey of sorts.
The scale of this piece is impressive; about fifty percent of the music – and it’s very much music in its broadest definition – not so much. Approached as an art piece, a sound collage that, in the composer’s own words should “wash over you like an acid shower”, there are moments of interest here, though, and each observer will take away their own interpretation – good or bad – and that’s cool in itself. In terms of extreme black metal, Necrovescent Ruiner has reached peak with ‘Untouchable Faith Decay’, and that alone counts for something…doesn’t it? Approach with an open mind and extreme caution!
A download is available here.