Written by: Izzy
As a genre like metal ages, it is natural that there will be waves of innovation and experimentation. However, after decades, you sometimes may worry that we’re running out of ideas and closer to the end than the beginning. Like, at some point it feels like so much ground has been covered that anything new would come in the form of a ridiculous gimmick idea you’d think of while stoned, like jazz fusion nu metal or death metal played by a classical chamber ensemble (both of which already exist). It’s an exercise in both patience and persistence to continue the search for something that truly sounds like the next step.
But of course, it always comes. If you don’t let yourself get stuck in the mindset that music stopped being good at one point or another, you will always find new artists doing new things and creating new sounds, and listening to the new Victory Over the Sun album reminded me exactly why it’s worth waiting and searching for those visionaries that challenge our common conceptions and assumptions about music as an art form.
Victory Over the Sun’s Nowherer, in the most simple terms I can describe it with, is an avant-garde melting pot of technicality and hostility, welding together dissonant riffs into a disorienting onslaught, with a twist! They forwardly display a captivating and irreverent creativity in their usage of unconventional tunings. I’m not talking about nerds like Devin Townsend or Joshua Travis who think playing metal in open tunings makes them cool, I’m talking about microtones!
While similar post-tonal black metal bands like Jute Gyte or Liturgy are not a new phenomena, the former's mind-altering complex noisescapes and the latter's blend of gentle romanticism and overpowering totalist compositions use microtones in completely different ways for their own means, microtonality of course isn’t a monolith. There are infinite theoretical possibilities and even more ways to put them into practice. Victory Over the Sun has built this album from a 17 note equal temperament tuning (or 17EDO for short), a system that has been primarily employed in Arabic and Persian music, as well as some experimental classical pieces, but while you may be able to make comparisons to Origin of the Alimonies or The Well-Tuned Piano or ancient Sasanian compositions, you will find them all to be vastly different listening experiences in practice. Nowherer is entirely it’s own beast with seven venom spitting heads and ten arms each brandishing an instrument to bludgeon you with.
Victory Over the Sun eschews any form of traditionalism and uses their alternative tuning structure to create entirely new blackened tech death soundscapes more reminiscent of the contorted incestuous child of Pyrrhon's angular and dissonant sonic assault, Krallice's inescapably bleak web-like harmonies, and The Jesus Lizard's sludgy bass-driven and feedback laden demented grooves, allowing them to bend between a suffocatingly dense atmosphere of brain-melting riffs and brief moments of reprieve in ominous adagio and spoken word. Nowherer uses the unsettling nature of hearing notes outside our comfort zone of western tonal center to expand the vicious and evil heart of black metal beyond this decaying mortal plane and into the 4th dimension.
Music never stops evolving as long as you allow yourself to evolve with it, so stay excited and passionate and curious. Maybe Nowherer isn’t what you’ve been looking for, but it absolutely is for me. It’s one of the few albums that is truly one of a kind in the way it approaches genre and composition, and that makes every second of it utterly thrilling to me. But if it doesn’t do that for you then don’t worry, you’ll find your own Nowherer too if you keep looking.
Victory Over the Sun - Nowherer was released April 23rd, 2021, and can be found here!
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!