Fire, Magic, & Venom — the new EP from the London-based avant-garde black metal project Sea Mosquito — is mesmerizing. There’s even a saxophone solo towards the end!
The record contains one track, which clocks in at almost 23 minutes. The cover art depicts what looks like some kind of cosmic storm, and the imagery, which features a fantastical swirl of color circulating around a shadowy, void-like center, provides a nice glimpse at the direction that the music takes.
Ultimately, the sonic journey feels thoroughly disorienting, as if Sea Mosquito has somehow captured the sound of a grandiose cosmic explosion and dragged the feeling out to a jarring degree. Within the world of the music, linear time has dissolved and an otherworldly storm remains. Fire, Magic, & Venom feels like getting stuck at a point of cosmic collapse, with visible surroundings getting inexplicably torn apart from the inside out in a dream-like blur as familiar boundaries disappear, signifying the disintegration of reality itself.
In other words, the music is intense — really, really intense, and the intensity isn’t only physical. The psychologically caustic unease feels unmistakable, but the music is absolutely staggering, which greatly broadens the musical trip’s horizon.
The track opens with minutes of relatively unbroken tremolo riffing that features a pointedly beefy tone, and the force within these first few minutes already begins jarringly picking up. After drums start building, emotively wavering vocals kick in after a few minutes, and this powerful element meshes into the mix rather than overpowering it. Shortly before the seven-minute mark, the performances hit a dizzying intensity, like a sudden blast of hurricane-force winds sweeping by. The force isn’t just forward-moving, although there’s plenty of that vibe in the track — there’s also a menacing sense of inward unease, like a sudden collapse played on repeat.
When the instrumentation subsequently eases a bit into an atmosphere-oriented segment, the music still feels unnervingly off-kilter, and after a subsequent bit of metallic fist-pumping, Sea Mosquito promptly returns to a dizzying haze. The combination of the rhythmic strain with the music’s resounding force enacts a feeling like some kind of cosmic whiplash, and it’s entrancing. The ending segment, which feels particularly groove-heavy, adds an earthy grounding.
As reflected by the EP’s semi-consistent repetition, there’s a captivating level of focus in the sound. No matter how close it gets, the music doesn’t entirely fall over the metaphorical edge. Instead, they hang on, dragging out the metaphysical strain.
Catch Fire, Magic & Venom below!