Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Chasm - Procession to the Infraworld

The Chasm - Procession to the Infraworld
2000, Dwell Records

Ah, and now for something completely different. I had been eagerly anticipating the release of this album for a long time, ever since I became a fan of Daniel Corchado's vocals and music with the release of Incantation's 'Diabolical Conquest', on which he did guest duties as a part of McEntee's ever-changing roster, and after later learning of his own band and hearing their utterly despair-ridden 'Deathcult' release. Meeting Daniel last year at the Milwaukee Metalfest, and seeing his band in action, I was more convinced than ever that this musical entity was a viable creative unit, filled with a unique integrity and an original spirit, and I am pleased to say that this long player does not disappoint my expectations in any way.

Beginning with the masterfully-constructed instrumental 'Spectral Sons of the Mictlan', which builds layers of raw and obscure riffing on top of each other, this album not only sets a new standard for Daniel's progression as a musician (along with the rest of his band) but also releases several new ideas for metal composition into the hungry ears of the underground. How? Above all by the fact that this band does not ever seem to follow the 'accepted' rules for composing songs, or constructing a band identity and personal sound. The melodic style of this album is very personal, obscure (in the sense that the melodies used don't have immediate correspondence with what you've heard before, and the songs are constructed in ways that at first seem to lack internal cohesion - this is a fallacy, however) and very much unique in the glutted and over-saturated death metal scene. The way that this band puts together riffs is completely original, as far as I can tell, and the only comparison I could make would be some of the early work of Abigor. Mixing almost every rhythmic technique in the metal guitar player's repertoire, the riffs often shapeshift and change within their own skins; twisting, turning, spinning off variations on their own melodic logic, morphing into alternate versions of themselves, and evoking the stylistics of death, doom, and atmospheric black metal all within the same passage. In addition to this the band takes full advantage of their two guitars and combines layers and strata of melody from the left and right side to form brilliantly despondent constructions of sound. In equal measure vicious, gloomy, menacing, mystifying, and rousing, the guitar work on these songs is first rate and thoroughly innovative. I applaud the determination, conviction, and energy that The Chasm display in their music...it's very inspiring...

Added to this, of course, are the mythological themes that form this band's source of creativity; both the mythology and culture of their native Mexico and the mythic structure behind the music that Daniel has built up over the years. Drawing from a deep well of personal conviction and a far-reaching imagination, the messages behind the melodies are as important as the music itself.

A word or two about the notion of obscurity that always surrounds this band: if the ethic and motivation of the Modernist movement was to truly create a new art, one that broke ties with the heritage of creative expression, and sought to give birth to a new artistic process that was simultaneously intensely personal, introspective, self-referential, and solipsistic in intent, The Chasm must be one of the most modern musical groups playing today. If you take a song like 'Cosmic Landscapes of Sorrow', for example, the sixth cut on this album, you will be faced with a daunting task in analyzing it: while it's stylistics pay obvious homage to other metal bands and the heritage of death metal, the messages behind the melodies used always seem to elude a complete understanding: they slip by the emotions, play havoc with reason, and squirm out of the grasp of your ability to accurately determine their origin or 'meaning' - in other words they are obscure, but not in the sense that they don't carry a weight of meaning with them - rather their emotional expression is so personal, from the standpoint of Corchado, that they always seem to just miss (by a hair) creating a resonating effect within you. After a few songs filled with these kinds of melodies, a sense of foreboding fills you: an effect and atmosphere of sterility, decay, untransmittable desires; a communication breakdown, the despair born of the unbreachable walls between all humans, the unbridgeable gap (a chasm, you could say) between all souls. If The Chasm have any one message, I believe, it is this: that the power to communicate, to feel yourself adequately understood by others, is just an illusion...a never ending series of confused attempts at connecting, which inevitably fail because of the very nature of our hearts and minds. The only answer to this tragic dilemma, this band seems to echo, is to seek all meaning within the self, to sink ever deeper within the darkness of the personal world, the unconscious, the well of the soul...

This is an essential release, by one of the most important bands in the genre. If you are in any way an initiate of the deeper currents of this art form, you owe it to yourself to find this.