Foul Alchemy #8: Balam Acab, Child Death
One of the best parts about this column is that it provides me with an outlet for mentioning those nearly-best-of albums and sneaky, badly-timed December releases (Baroness & Yellow Eyes, looking at you) outside of my regular year-end coverage. In case you haven’t noticed, Foul Alchemy has started to lose a little steam (my life outside metal writing has been interfering with things, so you can expect a new column at a rate of approximately “whenever I feel like it,” or roughly 1-2 times per month), but over the next few installments I’ll be covering a number of my favorite albums that might have otherwise slipped through the cracks in 2015, like today’s pick, which was released with next-to-no advance notice just yesterday.
Balam Acab – Child Death (Self-released/independent, 2015)
For those who know Boston’s Balam Acab, Child Death is a big deal. It’s Balam Acab’s first album in five years, and is accompanied by aesthetic and sonic overhauls that are likely to alienate as many fans as they’ll attract anew. Balam Acab have always been pretty tr00, but this recent change drags the artist away from murky cave paintings and into full-blown firelit ritual (for reference – Child Death‘s “promo campaign,” a series of brief, scant Facebook posts that only hinted about new music right up until the day of release, wasn’t too far off from that of your friendly neighborhood NYBM band).
Appropriately in line with this esotericism and reinvention, Child Death is all over the place musically. You’ll hear everything from juddering, anxious percussion to sweeping, ethereal vocals and almost Gnaw Their Tongues-esque implementation of electronics/ambience. Balam Acab’s last work was dark, but always found reprieve; Child Death still eventually resolves, but possesses far less of that former prettiness, stacking layers and layers of sound on top of one another until even the most beautiful sounds collapse under their own weight, bent into warped, stratified masses like metamorphic rock. Imagine if Chelsea Wolfe’s drone tendencies got shipwrecked on a desert island with Conqueror, early Ulver, and Enya, and you’re coming close.
Despite my love for the albums on my year-end list, I could not guarantee you that any of those records (except maybe Lychgate’s) will be future classics. Already I can tell that Child Death is a classic; since the album’s release, I’ve spent more than 90% of my waking hours listening to it. But for that December 17 release date, this definitely would’ve been my #1 pick of the year. I implore you to blast the merciless ire of Child Death into your eardrums until you lose all conception of self, time, space, and music.
Streaming is not kvlt, but you can purchase Child Death below via Bandcamp.
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