Recitations features members of NWN! Productions alumnus Katechon, a departure for them stylistically, as Recitations features a whole lot of space-age leads and mid-tempo black metal mosh sections. There are also plenty of percussion and ambient segments on their debut release, The First of the Listeners. The theme here seems to revolve around early man and the destruction of their way of life, leading way to modernism and strife, the dissolution of civilization and the family unit that has followed.
Or it could mean something else. Form your own impressions of the strange psychedelic touches that provide nuance to the music. The black metal sections are straightforward and easy to enjoy; the mid-tempo mosh segments are likewise enjoyable. Your reaction to some of the tracks that revolve around strange chanting and primitive percussion should gauge your love, indifference, or dislike of this record. In my humble opinion, those segments can be a real acid trip, take for instance track three, “Godspeak Halilu Lija.”
And while Katechon, the band members’ full time outfit, features a more intense amalgam of death metal, thrash, and black metal elements, Recitations’ The First of the Listeners sounds more laid back and ritualistic.
Still, even if ambient sections do comprise a great portion of The First of the Listeners, the band does mix some psychedelic and black metal guitar noise in the background of most aforementioned ambient sections.
Even more interesting is the occasional use of Church organ and phaser effects to the mix of epic runtimes per track. The band hardly focuses on all-out brutality; it is more apparent that the band members wanted to create music with a vibrancy and energy that they envisioned for this release. Track four, “To Voice the Unutterable,” sounds like rapid fire downpicks lead the way to tremolo riffing and a long impressively-sustained set of blastbeats.
Of note as well is the unique take on vocal roars that the band utilizes on The First of the Listeners. Echoing like a man howling from a cave full of primitive peoples, the vocals here enunciate some of the lyrics clearly enough for the listener to grasp.
The production provides a balance to the instruments used for the recording. The guitars don’t drown out the vocals and drums. The bass sounds just loud enough beneath the rhythm guitars. The drums feature the blunted snare technique and blastbeats frequently don’t make the distinction between snare and bass drum, which means that the beats sound like they’re comprised of thuds more than a combination of disparate hits of the two drum parts. The vocals are also captured nicely.
Barbaric, haunting, strangely melodic, The First of the Listeners is an intriguing demo presented by these mysterious scene veterans from Trondheim, Norway. Independently-released and cloaked in mystery and anonymity, The First of the Listeners could well be the first of a string of highly-anticipated offerings from the band.