Written by: The Administrator
There's been a constant string of winter storms here in Chicago--erm, I mean the geographically unpinned Sleeping Village--as of late. As such, I've been spending a lot of time outside taking long walks, because nothing soothes the soul quite like experiencing a taste of extremity. Such walks necessitate a similarly frigid soundtrack, and last night, on one such ramble, the succinct We Were Put On This Earth To Suffer did the trick nicely.
This four-track split by Sapientia Diaboli and Dread Maw is an acute display of distinct raw black metal stylings. Like unto a good split, it presents a package greater than the sum of its parts by benefit of juxtaposition. And, like unto a walk in a winter storm, it requires a little preparation and perhaps even an advisory. In this arena, senses will be deadened. Frostburn is likely. Discomfort is all but guaranteed.
Each artist contributes two tracks, resulting in a trim EP that clocks in under 12 minutes. It's a blistering affair, but certainly enough to provide a satisfying taste of what the two acts have to offer in a subgenre that seemingly revels in pushing the boundaries of abrasivity and extremity, albeit in slightly different directions. Hearing Sapientia Diaboli and Dread Maw side-by-side in such close quarters is a prime demonstration of the distinct aesthetics pursued by the individual artists, but their proximity serves to reinforce the overall picture. That's just an aggressively wordy way of saying that these two work together very well indeed.
While it sounds a little ridiculous, given the, well, sheer rawness at play, Sapientia Diaboli is the lusher of the two from a production standpoint. "Upon the Hands of Liars" and "The Black Shroud" are both fantastic feats, a near-conjoined malevolent tirade that hammers and pummels with a certain constrained chaos. The vocals are particularly excellent, acting less as a lyrical vehicle and more as an atmospheric tool. If you're familiar with Sapientia Diaboli's previous work, this isn't a departure, but the tracks feel particularly well edited, avoiding any sense of monotony. This is fast and aggressive and, dare I say, a little bit spooky. In sum, these two tracks are a very strong showing from a project that undoubtedly stands on the cusp of a masterpiece.
Speaking of spooky, Dread Maw brings up the back half with some genuinely unsettling fare, demonstrating a vastly distinct side of the raw black metal coin in the process. This is rough in a way that strikes at the heart and the soul of the genre--this is sonically harsh and abrasive in a fashion that mirrors a much-loved 2nd wave cassette of yore. There's a very distant sound at play, like you're watching Dread Maw rip it up in ritualistic fashion from the very far side of a quintessential cobwebb'd cathedral. The drumming is particularly unhinged, tending to lead the fray as the guitar mutters and murmurs in the background. There's also a delightfully odd martial and/or industrial vibe at play, particularly on "Asael, The Frist To Fall," where the percussion feels post-human alongside the harshly yelping vocals. I've already used the term "unsettling," but it truly feels like the best if not only word to describe the feeling at play.
While I appreciate Sapientia Diaboli in terms of precision and the full sound, Dread Maw delivers in the emotive department, providing a listening experience that I'm pretty unfamiliar with. I crave those moments. To reiterate, the artists really are quite different in their approach, which ultimately makes We Were Put On This Earth To Suffer a fantastic showcase: varied in style while consistent in tone. It is a very strong introduction to the solo work of both Sapientia Diaboli and Dread Maw--once you've consumed this EP to its fullest, I highly recommend checking out their respective projects as well.
Sapientia Diaboli & Dread Maw - We Were Put On This Earth To Suffer was released Feb. 4th via Snow Wolf Records.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that wakes us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry.