It’s safe to say that 2021 is beginning in much the same gloomy fashion as 2020 finished, and to that end Antre‘s Dark Spectrum EP is an appropriate first review of the year. The Nottingham, UK based quintet have for several years now been producing a spirited style of atmospheric black metal that fitted well into the UK scene alongside long-standing bands such as Fen. However, on this new EP the band have shifted their sound into a new gear, one that swings fluidly between the blackened death metal of Behemoth or Akercocke and the contemporary black metal of Woe or Ash Borer.
Their debut full-length Void was a tremendous journey through the hypnotic tremolo riffs and blast beats that define the atmospheric black metal style, with the occasional hint of something more brutal in style. What the band have produced on Dark Spectrum is a record that fully embraces their blackened death metal side without relinquishing their atmospheric black metal engine.
The EP kicks off with Through These Dead Eyes which, after its brief atmosphere evoking intro, follows a path that defines much of the record: furious tremolo black metal riffs charging into chunky death metal grooves and unclean melodic passages. Antre‘s vocals were never limited to mere black metal howls, but on this track they also show a progression to something more organic and visceral, incorporating more clarity and nuance than on previous releases.
Become The Damned follows, and provides a similar pattern of riffs initially before an earlier than expected guitar solo enters the frame, merging into a duelling guitar lead section that closes the first part of the song. The second half progresses into passages reminiscent of early Panopticon, an unrelenting mass of black metal riffs that shimmy into fabulously potent rhythm changes and stark gloomy melodies.
This EP is still recognisably Antre, their combination of typical black metal ferocity and post-black metal expressionism is purveyed throughout…
Mask Of The Saviour starts off in a similar blackened death metal style, but the melodies have a hint of Krallice about them too. When the chorus comes in I’m reminded by the vocal and chord patterns of Converge’s emotional ode to temporal anguish Aimless Arrow. It’s something which becomes perhaps less surprising when halfway through the band take a turn towards a more melodic post-black metal sound. Interestingly the band marry the two sides of the track together for the final leg and it’s a show of great song-writing vision to produce a track in this style with such foresight.
The final track Cursed Existence has some more classic black metal influences, the riffs channelling Immortal throughout the first movement. Once again though the band aren’t afraid to delve into progressive areas, and the rest of the track almost finds itself in Nachtmystium territory with its icy guitars, cultured melodies and spacey phaser effects. There’s still room for some blackened death metal riffs too, and the final movement has a Behemoth meets Krieg feel to it.
This EP is still recognisably Antre, their combination of typical black metal ferocity and post-black metal expressionism is purveyed throughout; but the type of black metal they purvey is now much wider ranging than was evident on previous releases. The band have cleverly introduced more definable blackened death metal sounds into their style, and thanks to an excellent production quality it sounds better than anything they’ve done before.
There might be some fans who are dissuaded by this shift in focus, but change is always a good thing and is often best achieved in metal through astute incremental steps. This EP feels like Antre‘s next step to becoming their own unique black metal entity, and the path they’re treading is one that greatly excites me.
Scribed by: Will J