Metal Review review

12/05/2006

Among the many black metal albums Iíve listened to in years past, itís a rare occasion when I happen to hear one which brings a great deal of density and mass to the table. While being infamous for some truly wretched production jobs, especially when the project is a one-man band, occasionally thereís a solo project which provides the knife-edged tremolo laceration we all love, along with a much appreciated bottom end to help accentuate additional musical cohesion without sounding like afterbirth. An English gentleman named Richard Tomsett is the creator of Indigent, and with his debut full-length Simulacrum he expresses his own vision of progressive, experimental black metal which often comes across as being overly ambitious, and slightly unfocused, yet very vibrant for having such a bleak appearance upon first inspection. The overall vibe of Simulacrum is multifarious, and moodily presented with Richardís parched, reptilian growl mixed flatly against a spirited and punchy wall of aggressive murky rhythm guitars, acoustic piano, lush strings, and breezy power riffing. The structures donít follow conventional verse-chorus formations which is no big surprise, and the addition of rumbling Slough Feg / Mastodon-ish grassroots technicality found on "Sin" is a nice nod towards heavier, modern prog. The doom lurch of "Ages Past Weeping" is interrupted by a cool muted and spaced-out sounding tribal percussion segue laced with an industrious solo, leading into a rhythmic kaleidoscope of noodling melodies, abrupt blastbeats, and more oceanic power riffs. The disc morphs continuously as each new composition arrives, and although it is a creatively asymmetrical and dexterously maintained disc as a whole, there was obviously an attempt to set a mood which takes precedence over any significantly memorable, or especially compelling songcraft. This results in an album which sounds animated, but disorganized. The actual sonic quality of Simulacrum is quite burly, avoiding the typewriter drum sounds that seem to be plaguing the majority of the Candlelight and Earache elite these days. I wouldnít call the production stellar by any means, in fact a few of the more intriguing subtleties are robbed of their grace and overall effectiveness due to the somewhat thick resonance. This doesnít really make for a disappointing listen, just a more challenging and unexpected one as the songwriting shifts away from primordial black metal, changing skins and attitudes with much aplomb as each tune progresses along differing paths of musical observation. As interesting as the musical contrasts may sound in theory, itís also where the lack of focus begins to hurt this album. Instead of sounding colorfully varied, or encompassing a wide landscape, a bit of necessary underlying cohesion is lost somewhere as things move along. The admirable refusal to pigeonhole himself into one specific style is also Richardís faint weakness, as Simulacrum ends up sounding like a very majestic and epic work of indistinct pieces which donít quite fit perfectly. Instead of blending styles into one fibrous work of art, there seems to be an attempt to do too much within a limited space without any dedication to truly outlining his vision clearly. While being elusive and inventive is something I really enjoy when encountering new music, there also needs to be a sort of direction plotted out which is recognizable after a few listens, and I donít really hear that happening on this release. Full of unrealized (for now) potential, a little more passion would have also gone a long way to help interpret Tomsettís perspective better, and Simulacrum stands as a satisfactory work of dense black art which still has room for improvement. It was an entertaining listen, and with a little dusting up on establishing a better direction next time around, Indigent could pull off a surprisingly vital followup judging by what Iíve heard here. Time will tellÖ

Jim Brandon


Last Updated: 12-May-2006 15:15