Label: Blackened Death Records
Blackened Death Records have continued their practice of reissuing old releases by bands they work with, giving Uncanny Reality‘s EP Cognition Mutilation a new lease of… well, not quite life, but something close to it. Originally self-released in 2015, this is depressive black metal cloaked in the aural equivalent of an infected wound – raw, murky, with a sound that is full of pain and hate. Yet there’s also melody in there, and small threads of light breaking out amongst the almost overpowering darkness. It makes for a testing, deeply cathartic listen, perfectly suited for those times when you are nursing maladies of the soul and are desperately searching for release.
Much as with Uncanny Reality’s split with Wolfrost – reviewed here – the most obvious comparisons are with the likes of Leviathan and Xasthur. Depressive, dark, and haunting, this is black metal driven to its inhospitable conclusion, baring its teeth at any who dare to even try and come close. Front-woman Immørdæk’s vocals are a tortured shriek summoned from somewhere out of Hell, putting across a lifetime’s worth of pain in each suicidal exhortation, doing justice to the misery of the lyrics. This is only enhanced by the music; though not as damaged as Leviathan, there is still a sense of wrongness about much of the EP, with several guitar lines sounding somehow off in the most delightful of ways. The end result is something utterly captivating, blocking all else out, leaving the listener in the same world of darkness as Immørdæk. It is, needless to say, quite remarkable, in the most unpleasant (yet appealing) of ways.
Black metal of this nature does have a tendency to over-stay its welcome, with such ceaseless misery ultimately serving the numb the listener in to boredom and apathy. At a concise 16 minutes, there is no risk of that on Cognition Mutilation, especially when it has something else many other bands playing this kind of music lack: an ear for melody, and the skill to know where to place it. Second track “Torment” is where this shines strongest, with brief guitar melodies flickering in to life at various points before being quickly extinguished or buried beneath darkness, but they are present for just long enough to catch the ear. In doing so they not only keep the music fresh and engaging, but also help highlight just how punishing and bleak Uncanny Reality’s brand of black metal is.
Because this EP is so incredibly fucking bleak, and is as good as guaranteed as to kill any good mood you might be in when you put the record on. It’s not the sort of thing to have on in the background when you want some black metal muzak. Instead, it’s an all-encompassing challenge, a descent in to the coldest parts of your psyche, where everything is wrong and that is exactly as it should be. The promise of the title is lived up to: Cognition Mutilation is no empty threat. If your idea of black metal is more than blast-beats and blizzard guitars, but instead is an embracing and appreciation of the wrong and the damaged, then Cognition Mutilation is very highly recommended.