When writing about music to help inform people who may not have heard of the band before, it’s all too easy to reach for fancy sounding buzzwords and go-to-phrases such as ‘post-hardcore’ ‘post metal’ etc… Pigeonholes have largely existed to serve journalists packing out column inches with important sounding waffle to create a familiarity in the mind of an audience, who can get lost in the notion that one genre style is somehow more valid than another. The concept of ‘post’ these days being anything that steps outside of the expected normal and defined parameters of a genre.
She Said Destroy make writing about music easy. The band eschews the trap of falling into one particular pigeonhole and utilise a myriad of stylistic changes in Succession. The Norwegian band’s third album and their first since an eight-year hiatus, shatters expectations by creating a smörgåsbord of extreme music coupled with a beautiful melodic sensibility that refuses to plough a simplistic stylistic furrow. Incorporating elements of black metal, death metal, djent, shoegaze and just pure and simple rock, the band move through the transition between the styles in a way that, at times, defies explanation.
This does carry with it a whiff of arthouse pretension as the press release details the use of various equipment and set ups in the recording process, allowing them to focus on the individual strengths of each song, but She Said Destroy have created a hard-hitting and savage collection of phonics that hum with Deafheaven style black metal stomp, an almost classic death metal furore and dazzling with tech metal that owes a debt to the downtuned crunch of Meshuggah. Succession could be the epitome of modern metal music, incredibly complex and transcending genres, making it incredibly difficult to pin down. It is an album that requires repeated immersion to appreciate everything that is being attempted here. Now imagine my surprise when I found out that the band are a three piece too.
Military like percussion heralds the start of To Ourselves The World Entire and angular tech metal guitar flavours set up the platform for Anders Ugmod’s vocals. Gruff and commanding, they reminded me of Linus Jagerskog’s from sadly missed Burst, or even Pete Dolving era The Haunted. The track is taught and jarring yet precise. As it progresses it introduces light and shade in terms of melody and breaks out into a frenetic solo that leads into a shoegaze/indie light breakdown that recalls Sunbather era Deafheaven.
The shimmering airy touch is banished for Eyes Go Pale as the opening scream fades to spooky sounding guitar and a doom crawl. This slow, downtrodden number feels full of despair; The dense atmospheric nature comes not from the band’s ability to channel ‘tru metal’ (although the rasping haunting screams resonate powerfully against the warmth of the guitar), but by making the experience one that is felt rather than clinically dissected.
This is a trick She Said Destroy manage to pull off throughout the album as they dance from style to style. The slow murky Morbid Angel style death metal of Our Will Be Done wouldn’t work without the emotiveness the band conjure. The razor-sharp riffs and dizzying guitar bends from Snorre Bergerud, who also handles bass and synth, are as powerful as the face melting hardcore punk influenced speed of You Will End with Sindre Skeie’s flawless drumming, which also steals the show on the robust technical stomp of Greed Witches, despite the contrasting style of the tracks.
She Said Destroy have created a hard-hitting and savage collection of phonics…
Sharpening The Blade and Not Only Bridges hark back to the black metal influence, the former a high tempo charge of drumming and strumming with strangled half sung, half screamed vocals that features delicate melodies and the former a rawer blast with more traditional guitar work and thrash stylings.
The second half of the album proves to be just as complex as the first with All The King’s Horses slowing the pace once more and bringing the guitars back to the fore, and Ruin coming across like the bastard lovechild of Mesuggah and Imprint era Vision of Disorder, angry and mid-paced, it’s the kind of touch paper to light a thousand mosh pits. In the middle of the two, Collapse shifts back and forth between progressive rock and hardcore that at times turns so fast you’re in danger of a concussion.
Ending on the title track, synth effects and an otherworldly feel gives way to eight minutes where the band cannot stylistically sit still. Propelled by beautiful lead guitar, this moment is probably the most ‘post black metal’ composition that I’ve heard as there are moments that epitomise the genre but are blended into moments that convention tells you shouldn’t sit together, yet they do to great effect.
Succession is an incredibly ambitious album. The band may have been away for nearly a decade, but that’s ensured they’re brimming with ideas, and for the most part, they execute them with a great deal of flair. It’s an ever-changing musical landscape that often varies from successive track to track, which is probably what the band were referencing in their press release, but strangely they somehow blend together and work as a complete piece of art.
Written around the universal concepts of frustration, despair, anger and love, the album manages to conjure hope lyrically and offer light relief which elevates it beyond a self-indulgent dirge. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience if you’re in the mindset to surrender to the long-playing format, but there are plenty of tracks that can provide a taste that will have you coming back for more.