i love it when i know nothing about a piece of artwork before experiencing it and that’s just what happened with entheogen. after being caught off-guard and mind-blown, i checked the encyclopaedia, only to see alex poole (of skáphe, martröð and chaos moon) on vocals and thought “oh, that’s why”. we also have other members of chaos moon and esoterica, jack blackburn, with an inhuman variation and mechanical precision on drums (that is comparable only to hellhammer or frost) and steven blackburn on numerous layers of guitar. bradley tiffin on bass completes the quartet, functioning as rhythm guitar.
who doesn’t love a good intro? those menacing soundscapes of uneasing horror and sound effects? the building of a good premise, an overture, an appetiser? but the fulfilling of that premise is what we actually love. and the opener “desolation lyre” does just that, around the 1:20 mark. it explodes, keeps on exploding, injecting pure euphoria, joy and black metal glory through the listener’s ears.
as the album progresses, the atmosphere created by layers and layers of guitars and much reverb serves to numb the mind into a state of phantasmagoria. the overall doom-fitting (chanting) sound is in such beautiful contrast with the (generally) pacey black metal structure that it brings tears of joy to your eyes. i can hardly remember such extravaganza in drum work, an insane speed at frequent blast-beat passages, dispersed by deliciously creative and stunning variation, and practically jazz drumming. maybe “kriegsmaschine – enemy of man”? this beauty in drum variation, topped by melodic / rhythmic basslines ensure overwhelming excitement. song writing, as meticulous as it is, disregards anything orthodox as expected, and you may be caught off guard with the next unexpected shift of tempo, passage, doom or death metal structures etc. not a single boring moment. all this craze creates a perfect chaos, if not cacophony. this may be a trademark of alex poole’s projects but ı dare to say this is as close to perfection as it gets and a wonderful balance between atmosphere and variation.
and mind you, this is a rocky ride, a very demanding and complex structure and you will barely have any time to enjoy every single moment of black metal beauty, rather delve in the dark and cold overall atmosphere. this makes “without veil, nor self” a present that keeps on giving. makes you turn the volume up. play again. and again. i (maybe hastily) named “novae militiae – gash’khalah” “one of the best releases in 2017 so far”, but entheogen – without veil, nor self may well be one of the best black metal albums i’ve ever had the pleasure of listening. thank you.
fun fact: entheogen, as it seems, refers to psychoactive substances that serve religious purposes. those substances have apparently been used to evoke spiritual experiences and hallucinations. this, then is its audio equivalent.