Here is something unique and extremely intriguing that will delight both the fans of Cascadian black metal (WITTR, Addaura, Velnias, Agalloch, etc) and of eastern European-styled melodic black metal (Drudkh, Negura Bunget, Walknut etc.). Hailing from Leipzig in Germany, ANTLERS are a punk and shoegaze-influenced black metal band driven by solemn and vast riffing soundscapes, inconsolable mid-tempo rhythms, and eerie melodies and moods. Their songs unfold slowly, taking the listeners by the hand across vast plains and soaring great distances, guiding them through a desolate and charred landscape where hope and destruction eternally fight in complete solitude a final battle for survival. Antler’s music is grim and atonal, but overtones of hope and redemption seep through their walls of furious tremolo picking and endless waves of blast beats. There is some kind of celestial and glowing energy in this music, something that makes it luminous and reassuring, even in its stark and torrential aggression.
The band features at least one member of galician neo-folk ensemble Sangre de Muerdago and this is possibly why the music of Antlers appears so full of purity and overflowing with emotion. Their black metal really tries to reach within you and is a vessel for something intimate and intangible, but you can definitely hear and feel the band building a bridge with these songs between them and your most hidden emotions. It’s black metal that you can lose yourself in and get carried away with it. It’s dark and tenebrous but reassuring. It’s not cold and lifeless but warm like fresh blood that has just been drained by a living creature and falls to the ground, killing but nurturing at the same time. The longish but not extravagant song lengths (six-seven minutes on average) assure for an immersive experience that is not overbearing or pretentious, rather the band lets you take long breaths before it pushes your head under their waves of destruction, before you can resurface to breathe again.
Of course, there are some post-rock and folk tinges in Antlers‘ music, but overall this is black metal that comes straight from a lineage of absolute power and might, straight from the legacy of Emperor, Marduk and Darkthrone, straight from the purest tradition of black metal, but not in a way that gives way to gimmicks or pure emulation, but rather taking the best cues from old Scandinavian Black Metal and then building their own personality on top of those solid and glorious foundations. The end result is something that has it all: melody, austerity, great atmosphere and character, and absolutely furious and merciless grimness. A Gaze Into the Abyss is out today through our comrades Vendetta Records from Germany, and if you were in search of one of the best atmospheric black metal albums of the year, maybe you have just found what you were looking for.