If you’re the sort of sensitive, cheery chappy who enjoys nothing more than a light and delightful ditty to keep you going, keep on walking. You won’t find any of that in Carrier, the latest payload dropped by German doom-mongers Black Shape Of Nexus. A heavy record in every sense of the word, Carrier is a sullen descent into darkness. Sometimes it crawls slowly and softly, sometimes it charges onwards, but its sombre tone is relentless and unyielding.
Vocalist Malte Seidel recently aid that Carrier came about during a crossroads in the band’s life. One road led to Black Shape Of Nexus‘s disbandment, and the other to their continued collaboration. In this sense the album is about finality, although clearly the band chose the second road for now.
B.SON demonstrate versatility and variety throughout Carrier‘s six tracks, using plenty of different tricks to depress and disorientate the listener. It’s a doom album, yes. But it’s also a grindcore album, a rock album, a stoner album, and an ambient album. It deftly flits between styles faster than an Ephel Duath LP, but it maintains a cohesive feel. The album can be uneasy listening – the opening track I Can’t Play It has some pretty unhinged bellows, and Facepunch Transport Layer (the album’s promotional track) uses flickering vocal lines that jump from one output to the other, as though the audience is enveloped by their own mental inner voice. At the same time there are soaring melodies and powerful riffs, like, again, Facepunch Transport Layer‘s main hook.
The band cunningly released this track to the world early, and it accurately sums up Carrier‘s schizophrenia. Its combination of chugging guitars and surf-rock leads would be at home in a Tarantino flick, but as that chugging becomes bassier, the guitars thicker and more distorted – the tone changes. It pushes away from grainy footage of driving down a dusty highway, and instead evokes insanity. Facepunch Transport Layer‘s aforementioned soaring chorus and gibbering vocals have a push-pull relationship, and the transitions between them are sudden and jarring, like alternating moments of lucidity and hallucination.
In an age when music is being increasingly pigeon-holed into more and more specific microgenres, it’s refreshing to find a band that paints with broad brushes. For Black Shape Of Nexus ‘doom’ clearly means a lot of things, from Sabbathian cries to heavy guitars that would make Warning sound like light and fluffy dream-pop. Sachsenheim captures the eerie feel of older, classic doom without pandering to the recent ‘occult rock’ trend. It keeps the savagery of Carrier through heavier vocals and a pervading sense of dread. Admittedly the track’s several changes aren’t quite enough to save it from outstaying its welcome, given its 8 minute runtime.
Closing track Triumph Of Death is a longer track (clocking in at 12 minutes), but its frenetic energy makes it endlessly compelling. Shuffled beats and an iconic riff, again in the vein of ‘classic metal,’ merge into slow open chords and blood-curdling bellows. It has a distinctly apocalyptic feel, fitting the title perfectly. At the seven-minute mark it launches into a galloping riff that would fit into any first- or second-wave black metal record. Rather than fading away, B.SON just keep ratcheting up the tension as Carrier draws to a close.
Carrier is a dark album. It doesn’t discuss serial killers or tell tales of gothic horror. Instead it feels honest and desperate, with almost every track rattling with tension. At times the feeling dissipates, but when it’s captured properly it just gets amplified. It constantly shifts and introduces new ideas, all the while seething with menace. It’s sometimes a difficult listen, but it’s a rewarding one.
Scribed by: Will Beattie