Suffocating. This is the first impression after listening to this demo, released on tape earlier this year by the Canadian Ekhidna Records. Everything on this demo is made to choke you, from the atmosphere, to the instruments and music. Not to speak of the cover, which is amazingly scarry, but does not disclose what happens after you push the play button.
Recitations comes from Norway (Trondheim, to be more exact) and the identities of its members have not yet been revealed, but to be honest I don’t even care who they are. Whoever is responsible for this astonishing material has all my respect and admiration, they have done an impressive work.
Lasting for 29 minutes, “The First of the Listeners” is a weird blend of ritualistic black/death metal and fanatical mysticism. What attracted me to this release in the first place was the atmosphere which emanated from the 4 songs. It’s like somebody lit a fire using only wet wood, so the thick smoke that comes out is choking you to death with some invisible hands, as you try to desperately grasp for air.
The music on this release is quite diverse, from furious black metal parts to experimental music and effects, but with a decent share of aggression, atmosphere and groove. While the vocals are grave, cavernous, with an incantation-like tone, the other instruments add a very depressing feeling to this cursed music. The drums are almost ritualistic and the guitars shred just enough to give you creeps, switching from cold, traditional riffs to acoustic guitar parts made to haunt your dreams.
Of all the 4 songs, “Godspeak Halilu Lija” is absolutely impressive, if not overwhelming in its magnificence. While on the other tracks (The First of the Listeners, Tongueskull Sacrament and To Voice the Unutterable) black/death metal is a bit more present, this 3rd track, an outstanding piece of nightmarish music, is something totally different, sending you on a weird journey towards your inner fears.
The band uses lots of keyboards and space effects which, combined with the tormented vocals, create a haunting audial experience. Suddenly, when least expected, some acoustic guitars creep in, before being replaced by some heavier riffs.
The best part of this monstrous song comes near the end when a weird and disturbing church organ can be heard and suddenly everything suddenly calms down, like witnessing some divine miracle in a delusional, religious experience. This is definitely one of the most amazing tracks I have ever listened to lately.
What better way to end this excellent demo than to blast full speed ahead with “To Voice the Unutterable“, the shortest song on this outstanding debut. This last track reminds me a bit of the Norwegian black metal waves played 20 years ago, only upgraded to fit the 21st century.
From the production point of view, the band has managed to avoid succumbing to a murky, foggy sound, finding instead a good way to make the vocals and all the instruments perfectly audible. Unlike other demo tapes, “The First of the Listeners” has a clean sound which highlights even more the quality of the music recorded on this tape.
I really suggest to keep the third eye open for this band, it’s one of the most interesting and original metal bands that have recently emerged from this putrid, sometimes overcrowded underground. On the 20th of October Avantgarde Records has released the cd version of this demo and in November, the same label, in cooperation with Signus Rex, will release the vinyl.
If Recitations has managed to release a demo tape as powerful as “The First of the Listeners“, I’m really “scared” to think how the debut album will sound like. I do hope they will continue on this (left hand) path of adventurous and out of the comfort zone black metal, it looks like they are already mastering the perfect recipe.
1. The First of the Listeners
2. Tongueskull Sacrament
1. Godspeak Halilu Lija
2. To Voice the Unutterable