For Twilight, III Is A (Black) Magic Number
“Supergroup” is too positive a moniker for Twilight, and too simplistic. The line-up of this Bay Area black metal collective is a wet dream for fans of modern-day musical darkness. You’ve got Wrest of Leviathan, Stavros Giannapoulos of The Atlas Moth, Imperial of Krieg, Sanford Parker of Corrections House, and of course Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth and Swans. This is collaboration at its best, not a bunch of ragtag high-profile musicians tossed in together to make just about anything, but a team of artists with similar tastes whose collaboration can only yield good things. And on their third full-length album, the band lives up to expectations, creating a disharmonious collection of music that ranges from soulful to unbearably bleak, all the while feeling consistent and satisfying.
Indeed, what makes III: Beneath Trident’s Tomb so entertaining (perhaps not the most appropriate word) is that, were you unversed in the extensive musical backgrounds of each of the band’s members, you would still hear Twilight. This is no collection of parts; yes, Twilight is in some ways similar to bands like Leviathan and Swans, but only in that it is cold, dark, and tinged with industrial influences. Otherwise, the band is its own, with its own sound. The twin vocal attack present throughout the album, especially on tracks like “Swarming Funeral” with its layered shrieks and growls, gives the music a sense of depth and gravity. The alternated crack and shuffle of the drums lend primitive atmosphere, never choked with blastbeats or over-done fills. But it’s the off-putting guitar work of Giannpoulos and Moore that most involves the listener. Psychedelic and sickly, rich in texture but vital throughout, the axmanship on III is superb.
The album unfolds with “Lungs,” a straightforward introduction to Twilights sound that still manages to hide a creepy moment or two. “Oh Wretched Son” seems to awaken the record in earnest, with brain-pinching squeals and off-kilter keyboard work bringing about wave after wave of abyssal desperation. “Swarming Funeral” is full of powerful emotional guitarwork, while “Seek No Shelter Fevered Ones” has everything—nauseating groaning moments, skeletal open sections, and a sped-up ending that the ear craves after the album’s deluge of plodding hopelessness. “A Flood Of Eyes” starts off seasick and noisy, but moves into moments of gallop and grandeur (great title, too). Closer “Below Lights” is an interesting if slightly jarring closer, with a pneumatic pulse that lends it an almost poppy rhythm not found on the rest of the record.
At times III: Beneath Trident’s Tomb can be a little much to listen to all at once, blurring together into a single, ponderous bad mood. But if you like black metal, that’s your jam, and Twilight provide it in spades. Which, once again, is why calling this band a “supergroup” feels strange and inappropriate. Given the consistently scathing black depths plumbed by their new record, Twilight deserve something better—“enclave” or “coven” or “cult.”
Twilight’s III: Beneath Trident’s Tomb comes out March 18 on Century Media. You can listen to the track “Swarming Funeral Mass” here and pre-order the album here.