〇 – null & void (2014)

the singer is in pain. the guitarists are in pain. the listener is in pain. the listener’s ears are in pain. everyone is in pain and there is no hope, no joy, only emptiness, agony and loss.

the amount of black metal majesty coming from iceland these past few years is so pleasing. the debut album of the icelandic quintet 〇 includes a single song that lasts for 34 minutes full of anguish and insanity, appropriately titled “null & void”.

the band obviously hold no regard of traditional music structure or any slightly positive human emotion. they also take a different, patient and artful approach to song build up. starting up ever so slowly and painfully, gradually evolving into a repeating structure of riffing and crescendo accompanied by painful black metal shrieking. there are no audible lyrics, i’m not sure if there is any. around the 8 minute mark the tempo drops even slower, two guitars ringing somewhat independently, the bass calmly following the main theme and now we have awesomely spine-chilling chanting. this shriek and riff filled song / chant and ring filled interlude structure is loosely followed throughout the album and each time we see a change of main theme, if not tempo. oh, and the drums. so calm and well executed.

the song peaks at around 15 minutes with a blast beat that lasts for a while, then giving way to typical slower passages that delve further into doom/black madness and experimentation. despite sounding like an obvious pink floyd / king crimson style improvisation throughout, the material is meticulously put together. although one could only wonder the state of mind during such a composition. the themes are so intertwined and patiently shifted, 〇 make you lose track of the music as well as time and reality.

the song returns to a recurring main theme and builds it to a peak to finish off. after the song ends, the guitars are still ringing in my ears. an extraordinary black metal experience.

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