By Kyle Harcott
With little foreknowledge of the bands, and even less patience for stare-at-your-shoes-and-drool drone metal, I wasn’t exactly sure if I was the best guy to give this disc a spin. Sure, I can appreciate the power of a well-placed, drawn-out power chord, but draw it out too long and I start looking at my watch. So it was with trepidation that I undertook this review.
Upon first listen to the lead-off track, “Druids”, from Montreal’s AUN, I was left with the aural impression of a great mechanical beast forming out of the thin air. The song doesn’t so much start as just kind of throbs into being – and from there, continues throbbing its way through thirteen minutes. Based around a loping drum track, a morose three-note ‘riff’ (for lack of a better word), and a shitload of eerie keyboard effects, that’s the best way I can describe “Druids”. AUN has taken the art of drone to its logical spacerock extreme, enough so that I am going to revolutionize metal journalism by hereby coining yet another subgenre: Spacedrone. You heard it here first, folks. I think. As a point of reference, I kept thinking of Vangelis’ themes from Blade Runner while I listened to this track.
AUN’s second contribution to the LP is “FallOut” and while things start out a little more melodic here, the song quickly devolves into a loop of ambient chaos, with layers upon layers of almost recognizable machine noises and ambient keyboard loops. With its mid-tempo drum loop, and semblance of melody in its keys, it’s almost the polar opposite of its predecessor.
Then there’s the seriously WTF?, tempo-obliterating force of nature known only as Habsyll from Toulouse, France, and they are the very dictionary definition of drone metal. Their track “Habsyll (IV)” starts out with background noise (I think I heard chains falling into a bucket), some well-trained feedback, and intermittent keyboard-induced gongs. Then at the 4:19 mark comes the most heinous atomic bomb of a chord I ever heard, and they keep coming thick like molasses. But it was about halfway through the song that I found myself seriously pondering how the drummer managed to keep count. Of course, it was at precisely that point that the song evolves into something more resembling a song. The vocals kick in here, and resemble more the guttural howls of a mortally-wounded animal than anything remotely human. Then, briefly, the song takes a detour into blackmetal hardcore territory, only to devolve back to Dronesville again for the rest of its 23-minute duration
All in all, this split LP is a challenging listen, especially if you are not the biggest fan of drone like me. Ultimately, I found it rewarding, but only as background music.
(Public Guilt Records)