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Benthik Zone—Via Cosmicam ad Europam ab Gelid Inferis:
Benthik Zone is a darkwave influenced three piece atmospheric black metal band from Porto, Portugal on their full-length debut with Via Cosmicam ad Europam ab Inferis Gelid. This band was founded in 2016 and last year dropped two EPs predating this LP in Cyclum Vitam D'Aqua Pollutio and Alienum a Daemonum Inferni Squali. They are currently unsigned, active, and I will link at the end of the article where you can find these crazy dudes playing, hopefully, somewhere in your part of the world.
Admittedly, the first thing about this band that caught my eye as I was looking through a number of similarly marketed albums was the cover art (done by their very own Einsichtmar). It really reached out to me, took me by the beard, and said: “Hey, let's have some evil ear sex.” Upon clicking on their band page, I knew they had one thing locked for sure, and that was the atmosphere. Everything from the album art to the page had a very dark aesthetic to it that screamed oppressively.
Enough jawing about looks and aesthetic and let's get to the real reason we are here: the music!
On first listen, this record was very dense. Such a deep atmosphere had me in a dark place, like some deep sea cavern. The first long song breaks up into movements of almost beauty, a moment of rest after a long day of suffering, yet the oppression still remains, deep in the background, grating at the back of your mind. Then, just before you've had a chance to fully recover, it starts up again. This leads to the second full track, "Medital Tranfuriae," which, in comparison to its first track, dare I say, lightens up a bit. This track has a large darkwave influence throughout, but it still keeps that knot in your stomach that something just isn't right. This is mostly done by the very blackened vocals that back up this track. To say that the journey up to the last song is anything less than an assault on the senses would be lying. After you become weary and tired from the beating you have taken, the opening of the last song is almost cathartic in a way. There are calming ocean sounds and solid ambience, till a wall of screeches, fuzz, and sound come back to give you one last fifteen minute blast! This album is a trip for sure; a very good atmospheric soundtrack for those wanting a thrill. Turn off the lights, light some candles, and blast this album through headphones for the best experience! The electronica elements might throw off the atmospheric black metal fans a bit, but if you are into heavy music with a fair bit of noise and “oceans” of atmosphere, this 2017 release is for you!
Favorite Track: "VII —Lebirtae Sosfurcate"
Picking one track out of this album was very hard, as it flows together all too well! But after some great debate, I chose the real start to the wild ride that is this album. It starts off calm and foreboding, leaving one unsure what they are about to get into. Even as the beat begins to kick in, it feels like the musical equivalent of ascending the first climb on a roller coaster that is about to propel the listener and everyone else on board through the depths of some formless underwater hell! As the track moves on, it gets more and more crushing, adding in vocals, which sound like the tortured soul of the damned or the voice of torment propelling this soul through this blackened abyss of a song.
Rating: I will give this a solid B-. All the elements of heavy and durge-ish atmosphere are here, but with its denseness and extreme song lengths, it would be a challenge for most average listeners.
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