The Belgian project Slow’s emotionally crushing new album VI – Dantalion quickly proves wildly over-the-top in the absolute best way. The first track sets off into menacing, strangling sludgy metal essentially right from the start, and the seventeen minute-long track two immediately begins the blissfully agonizing process of opening up the tension that the first track introduced and revealing all its ghastly glory. As the midpoint of that track approaches, the band launch into relentless, repeated blasts of miserable sludge with the methodical precision of musical cannon fire — and from that early point on the well over an hour long record, you know without a doubt that you’re in for a mind-bending trip. Track four includes a poignant piano solo passage, but even parts like that quickly get enveloped into the relentless procession — although the final track does contain a well-earned sixteen-minute musically peaceful letdown.
The utter agony of this music feels like it’s reflecting your own psyche getting slowly but surely grated to pieces in a process that began without you knowing. Gone is the luxury of getting to know at least a hint of what’s coming with something like the maelstroms of straightforward black metal — here, Slow take their precious time dragging you across flaming musical coals that linger long enough to painfully sear individual and inescapable impressions.
Thanks to the sheer maganamity of this music — seriously, it’s difficult to comprehend some way to overstate how incredibly intense that this voluminous record really is — by the time you’ve listened to it for a bit, you’re left feeling like you’ve reached some only barely metaphorical alternate dimension beyond death where that concept of the demise of our familiar human form sits far away in the rearview mirror. VI – Dantalion packs musical expressions as close as we can get to raw power — it’s fantastically huge.
The band feel like they have really mastered a method to force us to confront the limits of our grasp on what this existence really is, no matter how horrifying the revelations are that are on the other side. VI – Dantalion sounds like not just a message from that “other side” but the soundtrack to the hellish flames of that place, wherever it is, falling out into the open and consuming what we know, leaving just a crisp behind. It’s like a piece performed by an orchestra from the great beyond, where every note corresponds to a simultaneous hit on the skin.
Listen to some below. VI – Dantalion releases in full on November 8 via Aural Music.