Listening to the self-titled EP from the atmospheric but ragged black metal project 1789 sounds like standing upon a windswept, overcast field following the conclusion of a devastating battle. Long gone are the deceptions of grandeur, and similarly vanished are the delusions that the sort of tension at hand could be resolved without damaging losses on the part of those seeking relief. Suffocating oppression can’t be wished away.
The record, which contains five tracks, is brief but rich. It’s both immersive and sonically nuanced to the point of laying out a quite intriguing listen — imagine a plot line within a fantasy novel about a feeling of getting psychically drawn into the shadowy woods, and you’d be pretty close to the vibe here.
Keys that flutter through the mix make the whole endeavor sound especially lofty, as though pushing into some heightened reality, in which there’s a strong sense of grounding while each element feels shudderingly intense. The guitar tones carry grit, but overall, the record comes across as sharply focused, as if capturing a soundtrack of launching a last stand within some kind of mud-filled swamp. The swirling tension combines into a rush, delivering a fancifully extended, theatrical edge to realistic experiences of turmoil.
1789 approaches the psychological cliffs that similarly powerful raw black metal explores; here, shattering physical ferocity seems to be the guide. “Aux Armes,” which appears third on the release, proves to be a particularly standout track, moving from a comparatively more restrained opening into destructively stormy fury, underpinned by a sense of mental resolve.
The push forward contained within the album feels both jarring and invigorating — it contains a dementedly determined gallop through the fog, offering a path amid the otherworldly haze that fills the forest that you’ve somehow found yourself within once hitting play on the record. 1789 doesn’t lay out much in terms of a sense of security or stability — generally speaking, it’s relentless — but this malleability of the reality in which the album operates only lends to its shock-inducing power.
As the album progresses, the force of the energy gradually morphs the experience from the foundational circumstances of the battlefield to observing some celestial being tearing into the fabric of the heavens itself. 1789 sounds like a comparatively brief sonic exploration of the end arriving, but instead of feeling downtrodden or stuck, it’s time to ride — with flaming torches held high — straight into the teeming abyss that’s opening up ahead. With its menacing, scathing riffs, the project seems to find a sense of clawed out triumph within an environment of utter destruction.
1789 includes the talents of J from Tattva on vocals and guitars, Roanoke from Till on keys, and Nhöj on drums.