Aesthetics of Devastation are a label very much after SonicAbuse’s own heart. Possessed of the notion that albums should be listened to in full “as the art demands”, they promote albums that push at the fringes of artistic endeavour and music born out of the passion and creativity that only true artists can bring to bear. A perfect example is ‘Black wisdom’ by Grey Heaven Fall, a twisted, brutal display of ambitious black metal, Grey Heaven Fall take inspiration from the likes of Blut Aus Nord, Mayhem and ulver to deliver a potent, and endlessly inventive album that churns and rails against the senses.
Opening with the misanthropic, atonal torrent of rage that is ‘the lord is blissful in grief’, the album gets off to a dark, intense start as blast beats underpin skewed, detuned riffs and inhuman growls. That’s only part of the story, however, and the music is shot through with awkward time changes and atmospheric shifts in mood and style, all of which combines to form a hypnotic piece of music that is well worth repeated listens. Rising from a sweat-soaked bed of howling feedback, ‘Spirit of oppression’ draws closer to traditional black metal with hyper-speed, icy riffs tearing across the landscape as the vocals rent the very heavens with their pent-up anguish. Again, however, the band are capable of surprising the listener and shifts in timing lead to a dirty groove that sees the band crawling across fields of broken glass as penitents to an unholy flame as the music slowly devolves into the sort of epic, shoegaze-influenced black metal that leaches into the soul, corrupting and fouling the spirit with its malign influence. Thus the band fully justify the extended run time of their songs (‘spirit of oppression’ nudges in at just under twelve minutes), and it feels like but a short moment has passed before a rippling, blackened riff announces the arrival of ‘to the doomed sons of earth’ which has shades of Primordial’ s stately rage amidst its atmospheric flourishes and pagan spirit.
After the previous epic tracks, ‘Sanctuary of cut tongues’ is a short, instrumental segue that leads the listener down a dank, echoing passageway to the very heart of darkness that is ‘tranquillity of the possessed’, another lengthy piece of work which requires time and patience to fully unravel. Opening with dark bass chords that echo and throb in the air, before the band unleash a torrent of crushing doom riffs, ‘tranquillity…’ is an immense piece that takes its time to build from its dirge-like opening into a full-blown feast of blood-letting riffs and harrowing screams. The album draws to a tortured close with the epic blackened finale of ‘the nail in a heart’ which draws away from the artier side of the band’s output and closer to the grandeur of Behemoth, only to head off into the realms of pure progressive rock via a beautifully fluid solo that is pure Pink Floyd. It is the perfect closer to a record that continuously forces the listener to reassess their expectations of the band, highlighting the powerful sense of ambition and intellect that underpins the record.
Black metal, at its best, is inventive and open to new influences. Grey Heaven Fall appreciate this fact and have imbued their release with elements of shoegaze, progressive rock, doom metal and grind. There is not a moment wasted and the album flows wonderfully from one piece to the next leaving the listener shattered at its conclusion. A bold, arty, triumph of a record, ‘black wisdom’ is a blackened masterpiece.