Metal In Opposition they call it; to me, it is polystylist metal, free metal, space metal — krautmetal. Whether from Germany or not, Qualeaceans play the most radical brand of metal, ever. The ensemble draws on every single form of extremity in music, hammering out a sonic tower as high as it gets, yet ichorous, like a figure in a Dali painting. Their insane musical outlet encircles noise music, free jazz, psychedelia, musique concrète, aleatory, texture, multitempo, improvisation, the use of numerous additional instruments (e.g. hammered dulcimer, violin, prepared guitar, recorder, tanbur, harmonica…) and manipulations of the tuning during a single piece. And the only song featured on their debut, “Capture Of Ziz”; ‘In The Cavern Of The Flightless’, is a mammoth composition running over one hour and eighteen minutes, which makes it the longest track recorded in the history of metal.
“Capture Of Ziz” involves an industrial orchestration of a search for Ziz — the ruler of the birds — and it is realized by frame narratives arranged in free association, with several shifts between various omniscient narrators and focal characters, all being employed in different time-sets; where in a rather Brechtian plot, Qualeaceans depict the mythical giant as a small, miserable, mortal creature. Their deranged story-telling remains largely expressionistic; with some sporadic vocal lines thrown into different parts of this sonic labyrinth, while the vocals range from a death growl that resembles those of Sean Ingram, Martin V. Drunen, and Kazuyuki K. Null; a howl, of Mario Lalli, Glenn Danzig, Neil Fallon; and a singing voice; Colin Goldring, Arto Lindsay, Jon Anderson; Thierry Zaboitzeff.
A sonic pentaptych, or say a sonic armageddon in five movements, ‘In The Cavern Of The Flightless’ ‘ mere criterion remains one: madness. And just like when a typical classical music buff hears a Harry Partch piece for the first time, he is going to get fundamentally disturbed, a metal listener’s initial confrontation with Qualeaceans might not be most welcoming either, cause if there is one thing these metallers don’t care about, that’s the consensus. The consensus which they are repulsed by, and which they; as nihilistically fueled as the no wave scene of the 80’s, and with systematic rebel in mind as Lugi Russolo; tear into pieces. Crafting a mass-structure gorged with lacerating, macabre riffage, with such igneous instrumentation, on par with “Enemy Of The Sun”-era Neurosis, concerning the level of its morbidity, “Capture Of Ziz” convokes certain sonic lava and blood — the kind of music that is alive, throbbing, and breathing inferno with its every note played. What it does not offer, however, is post-metal’s bent for mood and drama.
This is best outlined in the coda, where Qualeaceans suddenly stop the massively distorted improvisation as though a conductor clashing had occurred. The movement before: the fifth movement, which; according to the band, spans from around 63 minutes until the end of the song, turns out a breathtaking heavy section, in a lot of ways similar to the first movement, but a whole lot more animated. A real treat for those who’ve survived the previous movements, it is crowned with an exhibition of riffs, and is there to reminds us how proggy Qualeaceans are able to get, if they intend to. Followed by an out-of-this-world electroacoustic passage, a kaleidoscope of instruments come into action as the fourth movement molds its way in. The improvisational nature of the many of these passages collides with the concept of visual thinking, only that it is aural. The previous movement being a Genesis-meets-Jan-Dukes-the-Grey acid folk intersection without the hippy cheerfulness but also without the punk angst. It is outsider beyond belief.
The second movement can best be described as space warfare. It adds up much to the spectacle, pushing the boundaries of psychedelic music into a new territory, which is equally immense, dark, and demented — just the way metal is meant to be. Here, there are beasts being manifested sonically, planets emanating an evil with colossal command, and with drums being anything but monotonous, Qualeaceans’ brand of space-rock remains akin to Soft Machine’s, that is heavily jazz-based. Nonetheless, Qualeaceans put their wild electric guitars to use, instead of the wind instruments, much the same way Sonny Sharrock did. Times like these, when instrumental metal isn’t busy showcasing techniques as in virtuoso, neoclassical rock or pipe dreams as in stoner rock; its savagery could remind one of Artaud’s theatre of cruelty, since here also, the instruments moan and their animal voice is favored instead of language.
Self-produced and self-financed, the production sounds raw and crisp, which itself is refreshing because in today’s metal scene, it’s incredibly hard to find a record that hasn’t been overproduced. On “Capture Of Ziz”, the scorching guitars have been perfected with a bass sound as devouring as those of Lemmy’s in early Hawkwind; which can be capable of relocating other sound waves for its own benefit, acting in the manner of an electrostatic discharge; and the industrial roar of the drums. To boot, additional instruments and electroacoustic passages have been recorded with extensive care and there is minimum difficulty earmarking them.
Somewhere in the middle of Alexander Kluge’s “Artists Under The Big Top: Perplexed”, the protagonist of the film, Peickert, tells her partner, Busch: “Some people kept an alligator into an aquarium. The alligator grew bigger, but they didn’t put him into a bigger aquarium. He became bigger and bigger, and eventually grew square.” And then Busch replies: “I can’t imagine that. It’s a cruel story. We grew in our cage too. But we didn’t grow square, see.” The one thing that bands like Qualeaceans prove, if nothing else, is that it’s still possible to grow in a cage, but not square. “Capture Of Ziz” is a sonic journey to the most terrifying: the most beautiful, all explored within the very metal manifesto, and all executed with style.
You can stream ‘In The Cavern Of The Flightless’ in its entirety and for the very first time at CVLT Nation. In addition, lossless digital copies can be purchased from Qualeaceans’ Bandcamp, which as stated by the band, will allow them to make a physical release happen in near future.