As much as I love death metal, I always seem to have issues enjoying black metal. It's not that I have anything against the genre at all--the aesthetic is actually something I really enjoy. But it does seem as if every band that's been put forward from the genre to me has been lacklustre. Sadly, Oregonians Chasma fall into the same category with their 2011 release Declarations of the Grand Artificer.
The unfortunate thing is that almost any merit the music would have is shrouded from the get-go by the absolutely terrible production. The vocals in particular sound distant and nigh incomprehensible, and you'd have a hard time convincing me that was chosen as an artistic choice. The guitars are also not enunciated clearly enough, and it is almost impossible to hear them clearly when the songs break into one of their numerous fast riffs. The bass drums are so overbearing that they crowd out almost everything else in the music, turning it into a mess of noise punctuated by a dull rhythmic drive. It doesn't matter how intriguing this music is; listening to it is too much of a chore to make it worth it.
Even when you get past that, the music itself isn't exactly original. This is the same set of black metal platitudes we've heard time and time again. The only remotely novel thing Chasma bring to the table is their willingness to stretch their composition, and it's arguable if that was even a good decision in the first place. It was really common to find myself nodding off at about the halfway point through most of these tracks, and I usually can't stand listening to something shorter than five or six minutes.
And I hate to write this, but given the fact that the band members all sound to be competent musicians, you'd expect that the composition should be incredibly solid. Yet for a band writing an album that's nothing but ten-minute chunks of non-stop black metal, there is surprisingly little that actually gets accomplished. The songs just feel hollow and drawn-out, like pale shadows of actual music. It's really unfortunate to hear such otherwise solid talent wasted on a product that is both unoriginal and unlistenable.
I will say that there are some interesting ideas here, and it's clear Chasma have at least an eye out for thoughtful writing. However, listening to it is alone too much of a challenge to warrant the effort. You should probably avoid this one.
3.0 / 10
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