Alex Poole is always busy. What with holding down at least four separate metal projects, and presumably being gainfully employed some how. Somehow he found the time to put out another Skáphe record this year, and for that, he deserves your thanks.
Starting out as a solo atmospheric black metal project, Skáphe evolved into a collaboration for the second self-titled release, bringing on Misþyrming singer D.G. to holler and groan into what haunted place they were able to rig a microphone up in. For their third release, Skáphe is now a triple-threat (meaning that they now have three members) with the Jack Blackburn of Entheogen joining the band on drums.
Past Skáphe releases were easily and accurately described along the same lines as most other black metal projects in this ilk: harsh, bleak, alienating, and pathologically anti-social (so you know, life of the party… reception… funeral reception… life of the funeral reception). The recordings were also thoroughly compressed, which usually serves to increase the inaccessible and foreboding qualities of the overall mix. Usually, this is a good thing when it comes to this style of metal, but somehow never felt like it was doing Skáphe justice. However, for the third installment of the band’s official solo studio discography, Poole and company have really stepped up the fidelity of their fiendish enterprise.
Skáphe³ sounds like a band benefit from a professional recording and mixing, while performing with their boots firmly cleated to the permafrost of psychedelic bone rattlers Nachtmystium and Oranssi Pazuzu. Managing to be simultaneously more adventurous than the former and more coherent than the latter, transcending many of the tropes and eschewing the creative sinkholes of the tarred black edge of this far-flung territory of the black metal underground.
There are points on Skáphe³ where D.G. sounds like a puma being force-fed lighter-fluid such as on the scraping, soul-rash of “IX – The Lowest Abyss” and the rancid resonance and upendingly urgent “XI – The Ocean of Fire.” And other points where he loosens his pipes to allow a gothic croon to escape the toothy hollow behind his lips, like on the brief but memorable incantation ” XII – Buried in Dark Earth,” or the ash coaked eruption of “XIV – A Spiritual Bypass.” There are still other times where the vocals sound makes it sounds like you’re being genuinely cursed, such as on the following track “XIII – The Shrill Cracks and Moan.” On every one of these multi-phased compositions, Poole’s guitar work reaches up from the depths to reel you deeper into the mire of desperate emotions he has made a concerted effort to fill each second of this record with.
A nightmare of sound and sonic sorcery awaits you on Skáphe’s third self-titled album, which you can stream entirely below.