Album of the Day: Yellow Eyes, “Immersion Trench Reverie”

Yellow Eyes may be guilty of metal’s cardinal sins—they have short hair and live in Brooklyn—but even the most dyed-in-the-denim kvlt black metal fan should find plenty to like on Immersion Trench Reverie. Brothers Will and Sam Skarstad conjure the spirit of classic black metal with their riffs and song structures, but show enough avant-garde ambition to make them peers to fellow uncategorizable NYC black metal acts like Krallice and Castevet.

Prior to recording Immersion Trench Reverie, the Skarstad brothers traveled for a month in Siberia, and they brought back field recordings—bells, barking dogs, ancient-sounding choirs—that serve as interstitial passages, separating the album’s six songs. They’re necessary breaks, because the songs themselves are intensely claustrophobic. As melodic as the brothers’ riffs may skew, the way they’re piled on top of one another, and intensified by the pummeling drumming of Mike Rekevics, makes each song on the album feel like a mausoleum.

“Shrillness in the Heated Grass” offers a brief respite from the suffocating atmosphere, and it’s the album’s greatest triumph, as well as likely the best song Yellow Eyes have ever written. After opening with a melodic passage reminiscent of Watain’s “Underneath the Cenotaph,” the track toggles between sweaty, half-speed churn and frenzied melodic shred. When the main riff is finally reintroduced, it’s as a tremolo-picked, Immortal-like riff that brings the song to a dramatic head, before it fades into the tranquil sound of Siberian chimes and chants.

Brad Sanders

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