Label: Bisnaga Records
This is certainly one of the more haunting, and difficult, releases to have come to my attention for a while. Combining elements of dark ambient/darkwave, black metal, drone, industrial, and even hints of the murkier, most malicious kinds of dubstep, V by Portuguese musician Atilla is a dark, ghostly journey. It has a cinematic feel to it, as if this were a soundtrack to a film – or more accurately, an experience – not yet completed. This is music for black thoughts and feelings, for when there is no light in sight, only varying shades of darkness.
Unlike some of the noise oriented releases that get sent my way, V makes no secret of the melodies and rhythms that pulse through it. Indeed, in some way, these are what give the music such a sense of dread – there is enough there to initially lure the listener in without the record feeling like too much of a challenge. But in addition to these melodies and rhythms, there is a pervasive aura of dread and fear, giving the record a real sinister edge that gets the hairs on the back of your neck standing on edge, as if simply sitting and listening to the music made you the central figure in some survival-horror scenario, where all you know is destroyed and gone. It is not a comfortable feeling, and this is hardly a record that can be enjoyed in the most obvious sense, but it is deeply compelling, and once it gets its claws in to you, it is hard to prise yourself away from it.
Perhaps the most terrifying parts are also the most human. In among the heavy, echoing rhythms and throbbing bass, tracks such as “Alma” also feature vocals that are still recognisably human, and not too dissimilar in application to those Sunn0))) used on Black One. And like that album, there are slight nods to the atmosphere and aura of black metal without there ever being truly obvious sonic comparisons to the genre. Meanwhile, other tracks, such as “Ritos Funebres”, combine this with the stuttering rhythms and cymbals of the darker end of dubstep (rather than the mass-market sort that you might initially think of) to create an urban, dangerous mood. It’s incredibly effective, and it’s interesting to hear someone combining elements in this way.
But really, this is an album where focusing on individual points is to miss the big picture. V is an album best experienced as a whole, without interruptions, letting the music overwhelm your senses. It won’t be an easy listen – I would not want to be listening to this album at night alone in a darkened house – but it’s certainly worthwhile. If you’re looking for something that will genuinely unsettle you, then V comes very highly recommended – and if not, then it’s still a fine release, just taken in smaller doses.