Label: Eternal Death
Here’s my prediction: when we reach December, and all the big magazines and websites start publishing their “best of” lists, absolutely none of them will feature Reclusive Blasphemy, the latest from underground USBM warriors One Master. And you know what? It’ll be their loss. Reclusive Blasphemy offers thirty six minutes of raw, forceful black metal that shows the band growing, not only embracing their influences but also moving beyond them with a character that is becoming more recognisable as their own. The record challenges the core of black metal whilst simultaneously embracing it. It is, in short, a triumph, that will get nowhere near the level of recognition it deserves.
“At The Hour Of Saturn” begins things strongly, clearly influenced by classic Scandinavian black metal – Darkthrone, Marduk, and so on – whilst also possessing moments and a feel that pushes at the boundaries of the genre. Just listen to the relatively clean guitars that open the track, stunning in their intensity whilst also having a kind of damaged grace to them. They surface again at other points, but throughout the seven and a half minute duration of the song there is plenty of movement, the song constantly driving forward, with moments reminiscent of the second wave giving way to more punk inspired sections, all whilst possessing a character that belongs solely to One Master. It’s a thrilling, gripping song, full of energy and atmosphere, and the rest of the album does not disappoint either.
Following track “A Cursed And Dismal Mind” opens more ominously, with sparse drumming and a sinister drone leading in to crushing blackened doom, that masterfully (no pun intended) builds atmosphere and tension, before launching in to more traditional, but no less effective, black metal. Some of the slower moments further in to the song possess an atmosphere every bit the equal of Immortal at their best, without losing any heaviness. “Intolerance” takes a different approach, launching in to a ferocious, blasting assault right from the off, with hints of the simultaneous challenges to and appreciation of convention that characterizes so much of the best USBM. It’s also proof that the band know not to over-do the pace, too, slowing down considerably around the halfway mark with no loss of intensity.
Fourth track “Infernal Silence” offers up perhaps the best evidence of One Master moving in to realms that are less explored, with more scope for exploration and ambition. Finding the common threads between the more unsettling, intense forms of USBM (Leviathan etc.) and classic second wave intensity and atmosphere, it’s the kind of track that subtly challenges the boundaries of what black metal can be and achieve whilst remaining firmly rooted in to the genre. The slower, closing moments – punctuated by hugely effective bass and drum hits – are a definite highlight.
On the back of the preceding tracks, closer “Reclusive Blasphemy” is something of a curve-ball. Recalling nothing less than Beherit’s “Summerlands” with its opening of spacious-yet-claustrophobic drums – suggesting something malicious waiting just out of sight – and spoken, echoing vocals, the moment the guitars crash in is genuinely surprising and hugely unsettling. This is far beyond anything most bands would have the intelligence or bravery to attempt; a fact that is only reinforced by the way the song changes as it moves onwards, moments of slight discord colouring the more traditional black metal that makes up much of the second half of the song, twisting and turning towards its conclusion. The contrast is perhaps a bit too great when compared with what has gone before to be as effective as it could be, but it is still a hugely impressive end to a triumphant album. Over the course of the album, Reclusive Blasphemy sees One Master assert their dominance over much of what is released in the USBM underground these days, and reinforces the idea that this is a band who are depressingly under-rated, and deserve much more appreciation than they current get.
Reclusive Blasphemy is available to order on white vinyl (limited to 50 copies) and a CD and poster pack from Eternal Death. It can also be ordered through Bandcamp, with release date set for 21st July.