(Southern Lord)

01. Woe Is the Contagion
02. Exact Agony, Take Life
03. Larval Liaise
04. As the March of Worms
05. Winter Before
06. White Fire Under Black Text
07. Hopeless Etheride
08. Swollen Voices In Silence
09. Beyond Light (Beautiful and Malignant)

RATING: 7.5/10

One of those black metal projects so primally fucked and ruthlessly inaccessible, it'll be hated garbage-can noise to most of the world, and a new religion to a select few. TWILIGHT is a sort of U.S. black metal supergroup, featuring Malefic of XASTHUR and some other subterranean evildoers, and their goal seems to be to create a magnum opus of old-school black metal, and then make it so deliberately abrasive and caustic as to scare off all but the most dedicated.

There's a lot going on under the soot and grime of "Twilight"'s closed-casket production — from the meandering, malignant "Larval Liaise", with its wandering bass line and disquieting, dissonance-inducing key change, to the clangor of the chaotic "Woe Is the Contagion", so sickening in execution as to sound like a manufacturing defect. "As the March of Worms" sounds like it's being broadcast over a walkie-talkie, with overtreated vocals and a smear of guitar that creates a chaotic mess out of a relatively simple riff. It's a trainwreck, but a glorious one, and one suspects the band wouldn't have it any other way.

Detractors will laugh at the idea of a record being "so bad it's good," while supporters will take offense to the whole idea of it being "bad" in the first place. But there's something to this, man — by any rational standard, this album is a shit tornado, but damned if it isn't compelling in its own irrational, decrepit way. Just listen to "Winter Before" (if you can): practice amps buried in a frozen grave would be more forceful, and the whole track sounds stuffed with cotton. But it's creepy, and it gets at the core of your black, filthy little soul. And if all this sounds a little too emotional and artsy for you, just skip right to the undeniably awesome chaos of "Hopeless Etheride" — a riff to kill for, a murderous blast, and banshee vocals apparently howled from across the street. Who could ask for more?

TWILIGHT is still another example of Southern Lord's newfound, and welcome, skimming of the current black metal scene for some of its most aesthetically charred, amazingly out-to-lunch masterminds. Stupidly off the rails, over the top, and somehow still just right.


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