Thantifaxath - _Sacred White Noise_
(Dark Descent Records, 2014)
by: Dan Lake (8.5 out of 10)
Let's dispense with the elephant in the hallucinogenic hall of mirrors right now: _Sacred White Noise_ is not, in fact, an album of white noise. Or really any kind of noise at all, for anyone versed in the fucked up rock band S&M perversion that is black metal. Depending on your disposition, this might come as either relief or disappointment, or not shocking whatsoever since _SWN_ has been available to consumers for months and currently streams in full on Bandcamp for anyone sick enough to care and fastidious enough to actually be able to spell the band's name correctly in the search field. Some of us (Ooh! Ooh! Pick me!) would welcome a good neuron rearranging courtesy of seven dozen signal collisions layered into an electrified sonic soup, but alas, Thantifaxath play discernible rhythms and recognizable chords (though my father would disagree).

Now that the correct genre has been reestablished, we can all revel in how amazingly terrifying _SWN_ is, despite its embrace of song structure and space. Boy, does Dark Descent know how to pick 'em. Most superficially (but highly entertaining), song titles like "The Bright White Nothing at the End of the Tunnel" and "Where I End and the Hemlock Begins" introduce the kind of runaway nihilism that inspires the immediate devotion of tunnel-visioned depressives everywhere. Bleak, grayscale cover art of a lone body curled into a head-down, knees-up fetal posture of submission definitely ramps up the general dread about what the music offers.

And the music? Thrashy double-time tempos split with occasionally clear bass lines underpin bestial enunciations and decaying, bent-string torture of the highest caliber. Compositions are deliberate, well constructed, crackling with bare intent and enthusiasm for the songs' adventurous scope. Thantifaxath point at black metal's outer walls, one by one, shouting, "Let's scale that one!" Intros and outros make hay out of lo-fi drones, guitars fire off leads like tech-death with ebola, "Eternally Falling" cuts neatly across the album's midsection with six minutes of cinematic string discharge, and album closer "Lost in Static Between Worlds" leaves jaws flapping in the wind by drawing together some of the band's best ideas into a sprawling sacrament of dissonance.

_SWN_ is the rare black metal record that warrants being added to an already overstuffed record collection. It is, without question, a 2014 album-of-the-year contender. Not noise, but definitely the next best thing.


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