Thursday, March 12, 2015
Review: AMSG - The Forbidden Transformation
Do you want to know what true misanthropy sounds like? The esoteric nihilism and cacophony of a world ending litany? A lament for humanity heralded by terroristic harbingers of chromatic death? AMSG's EP, the Forbidden Transformation is all of those things mentioned above, and likely more, depending on your own perception given the subjective nature of art such as this. A three track dervish of controlled chaos and taboo worship, these are not hymns for the weak of heart or mind.
What we have here are the final tracks put to record featuring drummer Kaos Abhorrer, who took his own life in 2014. It's appropriate, then, that the record plays as a eulogy. Not just thematically but in topical matter and tone, as well. These are black metal dirges that dig deep into the psyche and wrench out emotions we'd rather not confront. It is laden with grief and majesty and is a testimony to this band's creative zenith and one of the most captivating releases this far into 2015.
Prior album, Anti Cosmic Tyranny, is a platter of noted grandeur, and one of the most evocative and creative raw black metal albums that I've listened to. With that in mind it was with great trepidation that I awaited AMSG's release of this EP. How could it possibly top the album that came before? The simple answer is that it didn't need to. Remaining member, Angelfukk Witchhammer, has put this together to pay reverence to the unit that AMSG was, but not with the intent on repeating songs they've already done. Experimentalism was at the core of Anti Cosmic Tyranny, and it still lingers here. However, rather than flirtations with abstract jazz, the Forbidden Transformation plays with ambient electronics and sampling that surpasses the previous record. I'd be lying if I said that I didn't miss the droning saxophone employed before, but the atmosphere on this EP rivals that of the aforementioned effortlessly.
The guitars are pummeling, mid-paced flourishes of orthodox black metal. The mix here is perfect for drawing the full and rich discord of the axe front and center. But beyond the sophistication of the actual playing here is the focus on the fucking riff. Crushing and razor sharp, and full of deep intonation, I have difficulty in comparing it to anything that's been laid to wax before. It evokes the sound of epic doom played through the funnel of raw as hell black metal. To say that equal care was given to the bass-work in many cases would be reaching, but here it is audible and given its own imperative light. Plodding and deep and throbbing with a muted urgency that's hard to come by on a black metal album, it's significantly present and drives each track.
And I can't talk about the album without mentioning the drumming. Steady and martial, the rhythms here are sparse and driving. Elucidating the concept and flittering between pulsations and full on explosiveness. Every blast is measured and counted and stricken with purpose and paints the portrait of audible vitriol and composed incense. Incendiary indeed, and expertly played.
If you are unfamiliar with AMSG, then I can't encourage you enough to explore their meager back catalog. Everything they have put to tape has been evocative of the taboo art of black metal at its most primal and haphazardly evocative best. This is the culmination of a project that seems to only get better with each release, and as a testament to fallen compatriots, humanity as a whole, the Forbidden Transformation is AMSG at their most polished and driven. The world of black metal is one less now, and this project laments that loss, but with amazing clarity of purpose. I know it's early in the year still, but this is a contender nonetheless. An epiphany of creativity that has exploded into tangibility, and as such something that I can't recommend enough. Jaw dropping to be sure.