Epic Black Metal on a cosmic scale here, from this veritable supergroup. Twilight’s second album features an altered line-up from that of their debut – Wrest (Leviathan), N. Imperial (Krieg) and Blake Judd (Nachtmystium) are, as ever, the core, but this time they have been augmented by Sanford Parker (Minsk) on synths and production duties, Stavros Giannopolous (The Atlas Moth) on guitars, the ever-prolific Aaron Turner (Isis) on guitars and vocals, and secret weapon Robert Lowe (90 Day Men, Lichens, Singer, Om) on vocals. As I say, a vertiable supergroup!
However unlike many ‘project’ bands, Twilight have managed a sound that is all-encompassing and very coherent indeed. This is certainly NOT a case of ‘too many cooks…’, FAR from it, in fact.
In many ways, ‘Monument To Time End’ is a closer companion to the recent ‘Territories’ LP by Locrian, which ALSO features Blake Judd, than it is to any other material produced by the respective bands of the collaborators. Especially with Judd’s main band, Nachtmystium, moving toward a post-punk influenced sound on their latest record. What ‘Monument To Time End’ shares with ‘Territories’ is scale – both releases cover areas both vast and claustrophobically microscopic. There are moments on ‘Monument…’ in which the frankly fantastic synths of Mr Parker combine with the reverbed-out guitar and vocals to create a truly cyclopean landscape of music before the berserk drumming of Wrest and the sheer sonic momentum of the overall sound cause the entire structure to fall inwards around the ears of the listener – particularly on ‘Fall Behind Eternity’ with its buzzing synth, clean guitar and pounding toms opening into a moment of almost pastoral respite before the assault begins, the MASSIVE and toweringly overwhelming ‘8,000 Years’, with its perversely ELP/Jan Hammer synth chords, and the creeping unease of the Killing Joke-esque ‘Red Fields’.
There are moments on ‘Monument To Time End’ of ‘conventional’ BM – most of ‘Convulsions In Wells Of Fever’, along with the more ‘epic’ feel of opener ‘The Cryptic Ascension’- but most of this is down to the combination of blasting drums and hollow corpse-shrieking vocals. For instance, on ‘Decaying Observer’ the more ‘straightforward’ BM feel is broken up mostly by the synths blasting away at the structure throughout, rendering it almost a Power Electronics track at times, that massive churning windtunnel of FX overpowering and EMpowering everything. It does seem very much as though Twilight are stepping out from under the shadow of Black Metal and forging it into new areas, much as their forebears Mayhem, Ulver and Arcturus did before them, and NOWHERE is that more evident that on penultimate track ‘The Catastrophe Exhibition’, a track that begins with an almost newfolk style martial tattoo and strum before mutating into a dubbed and echoed vortex of Voivod-esque guitar stylings and the overall feel of a sea-sick Ved Buens Ende. Unlike the vast majority of BM and BM influenced bands, the bass is very prominently felt throughout the whole recording, but is particularly notable here. Following such a bold statement, AND ending on a high-note would be a tricky feat for a bunch of less savvy musicians than those gathered here, and so it is that ‘Negative Signal Omega’ is an end-piece that is PERFECTLY in fitting with what has gone before, whilst also signalling that Twilight are headed ELSEWHERE. Electronic drums, looped bass, layered feedback and chanting subliminal vocals open out into a scorched-earth landscape that sounds like latter-day Earth channelling NON, Judd spitting venom atop the whole thing, fading out into the looped and layered vocal drone of Robert Lowe – think a thornier evil relative of Botch’s ‘Man the Ramparts’ and you’re in the right ballpark.
A bold statement, a cohesive one, and one that may take some by surprise – considering the amount of negativity that greeted the first Twilight record – BUT most importantly of all, a SUCCESSFUL statement. A VERY successful statement indeed.
Scribed by: Paul Robertson