Black Shape of Nexus

Negative Black

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At times it seems like Manheim, Germany's Black Shape of Nexus have based their career not so much around the specific extreme music genres that influence their sound as on molding extreme sounds around an oppressive, nihilistic artistic agenda; music just happens to be the ensemble's chosen milieu for disseminating that agenda. Therefore, the fact that this mysterious band's third full-length, 2012's Negative Black, was four years in the making should serve as a terrifying forewarning about the scale of aural castigation about to be unleashed. Don't be scared; it's still worth risking your frail sanity on...possibly. The clearly orchestrated feedback of "Illinois" duly gives way to a slew of more traditionally shaped doom/sludge vehicles, of which "400H" (the first of many cryptically numbered song titles) reveals a deep sense of groove, while introducing BSoN's penchant for swapping Cookie Monster roars with grindcore-inspired screeching and tactfully placed spoken word pieces chosen from cult movies. Traces of noise rock also inform the discordant guitar "melody" emerging out of "60 WV," and equal parts droning funeral doom terror and driving post-core fury struggle for breath on the stunning "14d." Finally, all of these sonic references -- as well as softer sounds at odds with the surrounding violence -- converge on the album's 20-minute centerpiece, "10000 µF" (see also the peaceful respite of "RMS") and, later on, the even more colossal, super-massive black hole of "Neg. Black." When the punishment mercifully ends at last, one can confirm that each of Negative Black's individual tracks is of a piece with the larger, calculated vision captured by the album, and therein lies its uniqueness as compared to most typically song-oriented doom/drone LPs out there. Among other things, this is a big reason why Black Shape of Nexus can be as terrifying as they are fascinating.

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