Near Death Experience

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Spektr are a black metal duo from France about whom little is actually known. Their debut album, No Longer Human Senses (aka Et Fugit Interea), issued in 2004, took virtually every one in the scene by surprise, prompting those good folks at Aquarius Records in San Francisco to laud it the "weirdest black metal record ever." While there are heavy distorted guitars, frantically pummeled drums, and utterly unfathomable vocals, this is simply one mode of attack for the duo. Long noise drones, found sounds, radio transmissions, etc., are equal parts. On Near Death Experience, the band ups the ante. From the opener, "The Violent Stink of Twitching Terror," you hear not only parts of Emperor, Bathory, and labelmates Blut Aus Nord, but also Swans, early Lustmord, Whitehouse, and more. The crack and boom of guitars make their appearances well known, of course, but they are wrapped in a narcotic, utterly slithering mix of creepy ambience that sets the listener's guts to churning. This is experimental music where ambience and sound sculpture play equal roles -- there is nothing remotely settling or pleasant about this sound. It's pure black. Everything is woven together in fuzzy high-end shimmering glasslike sound. Buzzes and glitches, bells, found voices, film soundtrack dialogue -- all of them are stuck into the black hole and are vomited out in swathes of something approaching black metal, but somehow both more and less metal. If you think of Circle of Ouroborus meeting Stormcrowfleet and Anaal Nathrakh of The Codex Necro, you get the beginning of the picture that is this wonder slab of creepy-crawly messed-up sickness. Toss in the early Burzum or Emperor and mix with sheer strangeness and lots of despair, and you have a winner. Near Death Experience also comes packaged with a video playable on the computer that further "illustrates" the band's trademark insanity. Highly recommended if you have the stomach.

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