Thursday, 17 February 2011
[ALBUM REVIEW] Negative Plane - Stained Glass Revelations
1. The Fall
2. Lamentations & Ashes
3. Angels of Veiled Bone
4. The Third Hour
5. The One and the Many
6. Charnel Spirit
7. All Souls
8. The Number of the Word
9. Stained Glass Reflections
10. Stained Glass Revelations
Et in Saecula Saeculorum caused quite a stir in the underground back in 2006, and not without good reason. Out of the blue, this album appeared and floored everyone. Why? The fact that something so ingenious and erratic was still possible in a genre in which many have dismissed as exhausted through and through of anything innovative and original. This is true to an extent, black metal is a genre which has been suffering majorly from a drought of inspiration of late, though occasionally a band comes along every once in a while to try out something new and against the grain. Sometimes it works, but more often than not it doesn't and said band fades away to languish in obscurity. This is always going to be the way because black metal fans more than most are always skeptical of changes, they can be a tough bunch to satisfy at the hardest of times. This is where Negative Plane come in. If you've ever listened to a band for the very first time, and after one listen to the album sat up and thought to yourself “Wow, this is unlike anything I've ever heard before, yet absolutely astounding; these guys are going to be big” then you've felt the same as to what I felt when I first heard Negative Plane. They retain enough of the traditional ethics and basis of traditional black metal and fuse it with a bizarre amalgamation of gothic horror and archaic styling that will unite even the most fickle of black metal fans.
Picture yourself in a vast cathedral, enshrouded in an ancient horrific mist, gradually dragging you down into a fear induced delirium, a swirling myriad of primeval voices strangle the remains of any rational thought you may have left like the rat in it's dying throes to the python. Extravagant, yes, but an album such as this deserves nothing less. I have heard various people liken it almost to a Lovecraftian horror soundtrack, and in a way there could not be a more apt definition for the sound of Stained Glass Revelations. It's ominous, foreboding and terrifying, yet at the same time it has this almost ridiculous macabre carnival-esque atmosphere. This is due in no small part to the contributions of Nameless Void, who provides both the guitar work and the vocals. The guitar is swathed in layers of reverb and with the slightly more prog route they have taken in regards to the guitars this time around they have veered off into a more definitive psychedelic route, something along the lines of “A Church in Ruin” off their debut. The sheer variation and multiform nature of the guitar work is astounding, no second riff is ever the same, one minute NV is playing something similar to Celtic Frost, the next it's a totally abstract guitar lead where every note reflecting off every corner of your mind. I mentioned Celtic Frost before, and they probably are one of Negative Plane's main influences. Certainly on the debut at least, maybe less so on this album which is so unique it's a challenge in itself to try and compare it to anything. At times the album doesn't even sound metal, as I stated before at points it morphs into something almost like dark, twisted circus music, and the vocals of NV are the voices of cast; twisted and unhinged and spitting corruption. “The One and the Many” is a great example of this, rising and falling around the vocals of Nameless Void. The bass and drum work definitely shouldn't be ignored either, the bass resonating beneath the chaos above it and one of the main components of the overall atmosphere, while the drumming is best described as extremely unpredictable and unconventional. Bestial Devotion is a big fan of his cymbals, chaotic and complex at the same time with no holding back on the quality.
The atmosphere pours out of this record in waves, it's an atmosphere not dissimilar to that of Drawing Down the Moon or De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, one which is extremely dense, ambiguous and warped, an atmosphere that completely makes the album what it is. They also are one of the few bands who actually manage to use interludes to their full effect and not just for aimless filler, using them to build the suspense in between each song, and avoid using shitty samples and actually composing the interludes themselves. If I had to pick one song which would sum up the album thoroughly, it would be the enigmatic “Angels Veiled in Bone”. As dark and as depraved as the dungeons of Hades while throughout it all flicking a wry smile. Grandiose riffing and chromatic leads, psychopathic vocals and an atmosphere that puts almost every other band out there at the minute to shame.
With Stained Glass Revelations, Negative Plane move up to the top rung of the ladder and it would be a horrendous injustice if they don't get more recognition on the back of an absolute gem such as this. The move in a more psychedelic direction was an utter masterstroke by them, but I still don't think it's their 'pièce de résistance' as such, because I honestly think they have even better in them. I guess only time will tell. A work of unassailable genius. Obscure, mysterious and at times downright petrifying, all the while wearing a masque of perverse humour. Two words; get this.
Originally written for Metalcrypt