The concept of “The Outside” is to take us to a void, a place where light doesn’t exist and darkness has no meaning. I would say that Kolp succeed in this aim. The problem for me lies in the fact that as a musical listening experience, it can be tough going. Recalling my days of studying 19th century German realist literature, a question which was raised then was whether you can depict nothing without depicting something. The same question arises here. This isn’t to say that the grim and deadened black metal that I heard on this album isn’t impressive. Blasting drums and sound walls of … nothingness, I suppose … are there. The vocalist on “The Initial State” is screaming desperately and clearly has more to worry about than his tea being burnt. Changes of pace are part of the technique, as is standard in decent black metal. The slower it becomes, the more tortured it is. In fact as the album progresses, it becomes doomier in style. “Drowning” is dark, self-evidently, and melancholic. The air is filled with gloom. For me a trick was missed here, as this track could have gone on for longer, so that we could inhale and immerse ourselves in the murky depths for longer instead of being allowed to get away. The gloom turns to a blend of crumbling decay and isolation through the suppressed majesty of “The Void and the Silence”. The drum pattern changes briefly as life is injected into “The Place” before what resembled a pointless compendium of that which had preceded it left me marooned and uninspired. It’s not supposed to be uplifting but this surely should not preclude interest.
I always felt a threat of this album transforming into post-metal, and this is what happens. It’s not post-metal in the sense of Cult of Luna’s “The Beyond”, with whose thematic representation this album could be compared, because “The Outside” is essentially black metal. “Completion” is slower and bigger than what has gone before, and the change of direction is both welcome and interesting. The agony continues but it seems to be an exercise in endurance and prolongations over inspiration. “The Outside” takes up new ground, with its apocalyptic build-up. It’s slow and plodding, then there’s a break and it threatens to pick up but it doesn’t happen, leaving us in the deadened land.
I had a look at the YouTube video of “The Void and the Silence” and its images of bleak landscapes and crumbling buildings add substance to the track. As an overall exercise in creating black metal atmosphere, “The Outside” is effective. I guess by its theme the album wasn’t supposed to have its ups and downs. Parts of this were interesting. Other parts weren’t and got lost somewhere in the void.
(5/10 Andrew Doherty)