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Review: Yellow Eyes Set Sick New Standard

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The new album by Yellow Eyes, Sick With Bloom, is what we might have expected from Krallice and their 2015 album Ygg Huur (though redemption has just arrived). The latter isn’t the first post-something black metal album marred by rash experimentation, like a collective iconography of musical or cultural progression. Liturgy, at least, managed moments of genuine power last year on The Ark Work, though its lol-revolutionary vocals are as defeating as inspiring. Maybe sickness can be trumped by sassiness, the ills of existence unstated via the will for distinctiveness, and then the point is lost in a mire.

No such crises with Yellow Eyes. The structural beauty of Sick With Bloom is actually in its pithiness: instead of soapboxing, it dutifully pens a six-page manifesto. And the emotive beauty of Sick With Bloom is its blunt honesty: it doesn’t recycle, mask, or embellish tropes, it plainly lays out straightforward, no-nonsense black metal: cued, not infected, by postmodern sensibilities. Sometimes the greatest revolution isn’t really a revolution – it’s a fresh direction in an ongoing discussion.

Edgy highs and paralyzing lows add a material topography to Sick With Bloom. They ebb and flow with bloody humanism, covering anxiety, depression, and first-world suffering in their most natural and titillating forms. The aesthetic flatness of bands like Sannhet leave you feeling inhuman and removed from the music. Contra Sick With Bloom, a mighty rail-liner traversing undulating hinterlands; heaping shovels of grade-A blastbeats and gristly vocals into the hellfire to feed this steel and iron beast!

To wit: there is a constant and immutable roar like the grinding of metal wheel on metal track, yet the seats inside are plush and the ride is like grandpa’s Cadillac. Brilliant in its basic-ness, so well-designed that it is nearly transparent, it disappears effortlessly into your consciousness. Attribute it to good engineering, the album does not suffer from The Ruinous Triad Of Fatal Black Metal Flaws: uninterpretable noise overages, pseudo-nihilism, and wanton guideline abandonment.

Sick With Bloom is not 2015’s best black metal album (actually, there was no “best” last year), but it is 2015’s most important. If some dork asks you what black metal sounds like these days, you can whip this album out like a goddamn fiver and slap it right in their sweaty, open palms. You’ll be confident that everything they need to know is contained within those 42 minutes. It’s the album you copy if you want to write a knock-off black metal album. It’s déjà vu, but sans référent. It is the new standard. Pretty powerful stuff from a band stricken with jaundice.

Yellow Eyes’ Sick With Bloom is out now via Gilead. Get it here and here.

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