16 March 2016
Rorcal - Creon
The path is dark on this album, the cover alone should denote that and warn the listener that if they are wanting to have an album to bring sunshine and light to their lives - this is not the album. Rorcal are a doom/black metal band hailing from Geneva, Switzerland and consist from five members and this is their fourth album. 'Creon' is a four track album, based on a Greek tragedy with the death of four character who are linked to Creon. The titles are all in Greek (with none of the members coming from those isles in the Ionian Sea) and each of the songs are over eleven minutes, with a grand total of four tales to be reviewed. Now, with Black metal is something that I enjoy and it is also something I avoid as well. It has been making a resurgence over recent years, with new bands taking the genre in new and different directions, will this slice of darkness be added to that list?
Starting the album is "Πολυνείκης" which starts the story after a great battle, it depicts the moment when two sons of Oepidus, Polynices & Eteocles, kill each other over a battle for the kingdom of Thebes. After the battle, their uncle Creon takes the throne and decrease that Polynices shall not be buried or mourned; this is a decision that their sister, Antigone does not agree with. It begins with a frantic, yet droning guitar riff that loops around as the drums and bass slowly enter the violent arena and add to the harsh and difficult atmospheric conditions of the song. The song itself goes through various phases as the pitch of the drone moves around the listener, indeed it is not till the five-minute mark and then it sounds the world is about to explode. It goes through various dynamic shifts with the speed fluctuating and plenty of atmospheric gaps, which dashes of frantic drumming and trashing riffs. It all comes together in a fantastic track which is one that you cannot listen to without submitting yourself total to the song. It is the longest song of the album, just under fifteen minutes and it demands your attention; therefore, it is not for the faint hearted and will take all your attention. The second song is called “Ἀντιγόνη” which continues the tale with Antigone plotting to bury her brother, her Uncle finding out her deception and banishing her to a cave so she can wilt and die. When Creon has a change of heart, he returns to the cave, only to find that Antigone had taken her own life. Starting off with a slow drum beat that takes a while till it is joined by the rest of the band, when they arrive it is sounds like a shallow explosion and it slowly builds up in temperament and this song continues along similar tones to "Πολυνείκης", but it increases the aggression onto the listener and does not have as drop in pace till the five-minute mark once again; from there it morphs once more via feedback in another direction that drags you along the dark path of their desires. It does take a while for this to become apparent once more, as they do like to drop a subtle amount of drone to the proceedings to give contrast to the frantic passages of the song as well. As it drifts along you are always on edge as you are expecting the band to drop a massive riff, instead they build up in a natural way and when it releases it is full of fury and venom. It takes a while to get there, but the end result is still as good as the promise.
The second half of the album continues the saga with “Αἵμων”, at this point Haemon (the son of Creon and the husband or finance of Antigone (depending on the text you read)), is beside himself with grief and he too, takes his own life (there is a lot of this in Greek tragedies. Once again it is all the peaks and troughs as the band put the listener through an emotions and sonic grinder, with sound attacks from all angles. It is probably at this point where your opinion of the album will be solidified, as it is the most dynamic of the four songs on offer – but for some reason “Ἀντιγόνη” pips it in my heart to song of the album. The sound is almost as destructive as anything I have heard from Deluge or Deafheaven, it feels like you are being pummelled by wave upon wave of destruction – each time losing grip a little further. It is another endurance test as well, whilst also being the shortest song on the album as it clocking in at eleven minutes and twenty-two seconds in length. The pitch of the song swirls and changes throughout, making it a hard song to gauge in place but easy in other. Ending this tragedy is “Εὐρυδίκη” where the wife of Creon, upon hearing about the deaths of her son, her daughter in law/future daughter in law, takes her own life as well. Seeing the scene of events that have followed Creon and his decision, he laments his lot and mourns his faming. It starts off with a slow funeral marching black metal and it has a solid sound at the root of its dark and blackened soul, due to the subject matter that shines a harsh light on Creon and all of his dark choices. As it speeds towards its end, the speed picks up and it is all builds up a head of steam that guides you to the end of this tragedy.
Well it has been a challenging record to review this one, be under no illusions about that one. The length of the tracks, the subject matter and the whole package make it extremely harsh on the soul and you feel like you are carrying a heavy burden when the final chords fade into the void. It is a record that challenges the senses and does not let you get comfortable for one second, which is how a black metal album should sound. However, there are a few words of caution I would add to the tale at this point. Because of the lengths of the tracks, the tone and the overall package of the work, it is not an album that is likely to make fans outside of the genre; it is very much an album for the faithful and one that you do not put on in the background. It is a piece of art really, something that you take your time with and ponder the various sections and tones. It is an album I admire more than love, but it is still one which shows that black metal is not on its last legs anymore and the resurgence is in full swing.
7 out of ten – This is good and worth checking out
Top track - Ἀντιγόνη
The album is available from Amazon here (on pre-order till 25 March 2016)
You can visit the Lost Pilgrims Records website here (you can order the album direct from the label)
You can follow the activities of Rorcal on Facebook here
At the time of writing, the album is not available on streaming sites.....however....
ON CVLT Nation, they have done a brilliant review where you can also stream snippets of the album as well.
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