The names Stuart Dahlquist and Edgy59 should ring a bell if you hold the more adventurous realms of doom and drone metal in high regard. Previously, Stuart played bass in the cvlt-approved Burning Witch, and then shifted focused to his (highly underrated) Asva project. Ex and current band mate, Edgy59, is most widely known for his unforgettable vocals in Burning Witch, as well as his Bird Eye and Sarin projects. Together, the two multi-instrumentalists comprise The Poisoned Glass, and 10 Swords is their harrowing debut out on Ritual Productions.
Nothing can prepare you for the aural stranglehold applied on 10 Swords. Individual tracks are rendered irrelevant. Moods turn on a dime. Horror grips, then releases. The test is immediate. Just sit with it for a minute and you will likely have decided whether you’re all in or moving on. I’m not even sure I could fault someone for making the latter decision.
Sunn O))) is a decent starting place for comparison, but where the dark drone masters wade in sustained tone, The Poisoned Glass sanctify tension. The duo achieve total aural suspense through stripped-down, almost hushed instrumentation (an array of bass and sub tones, synths, noise, virtually no percussion). Edgy59’s vocal performance takes many demented forms; be it zombie Ozzy-esque wailing, ghastly shrieks, coffin-trapped whimpering, and digitally-scraped incantations. All done, I imagine, with a sinister grin on his face and clutching a bloodied knife behind the back.
“Plume Veil” lays down a sheet of icy synth and choral ambience while Edgy59’s wounded singing and Stuart’s rumbling bass stabs lock together in conspiracy. “Toil and Trouble” is the most surprising moment on the album; restrained in vocal delivery and almost delicate in the paired organ and bass movements. Eventually, the instruments drop out and an openly strummed bass, bright organ, and ethereal choral melody cleanse your rotted palette. It is the sole moment of light on the album and the record’s Brian Eno moment, if you will. Its impact all the more profound considering the bleak terror that bookends it.
Label: Ritual Productions
“Verbatim” is another highlight and brings peak menace. A sludgy bass line slithers as Edgy59’s piercing howls and psychotic mumbling are digitally treated to unnerving effect. The finale gives way to rhythmic fits of ominous bass, clanging sheets of noise, and vortex-inducing death warbles. More often than not, much of the music remains within the atmosphere of “Silent Vigil”; a strongly composed piece featuring Stuart’s familiar bass/organ combination, disintegrating distortion, and the warped voodoo of Edgy59.
This album is not for everybody. In fact, I can’t even fathom who it is for. However, approaching it with a certain openness is the key to yielding a unique listening experience. There is honestly nothing I have come across that sounds like 10 Swords. Make no mistake, The Poisoned Glass will chill you to the bone.