TitaanTitaan’s ambitious debut is one of those releases that leaves me wondering what on earth else there is lurking between the cracks in the extreme music scene. On the one hand, it’s always an impressive risk when a band reaches for the cosmic heights with this sort of atmospheric experimentation mixed with some mind bending, occult black metal. You spend the first 15 or 20 minutes wondering when it’s all going to fall apart. But, on the other hand, when they, more or less, pull it off like Kadingir does – whatever ‘it’ might be – there’s relief quickly followed by the urge to absorb it and maybe, although this is an unlikely goal, maybe even figure out what the hell is going on.

The press release from ATMF is little help – some largely indecipherable blurb about ‘Kadingir, the Itinerant Spirit of the Twelfth Planet’ – but anyone who has tried to penetrate the musings of occult black metal bands (more usually than not comprising of one person and perhaps some shady-looking session musicians if you’re lucky) should know that asking questions like ‘what the hell is going on?’ is only going to end up with you staring into some very dark places indeed.

It’s best, I’ve found, to just let the barrage of noise and messed-up, raw riffs do their work and try not to poke around too much. Kadingir is a mixture of Darkspace, Nightbringer (or more specifically maybe Nightbringer’s spin-off project Akhlys) and take your pick from the likes of Acherontas or Dodsengel. The use of occasional death metal growls helps the punch of raw black metal with some extra weight. Not that it’s needed. The varied vocal approach (including some Rotting Christ-style incantations) and hypnotically simple, circular riffs on tracks like Kadingir and Peta Babkama Anaku are interspersed with multiple ambient tracks that sometimes fade into such rumbling quietness that it will take successive listens to reach the point where you don’t automatically find yourself checking whether you accidently sat on the ‘pause’ button.

Those dark and drifting keyboard moments will undoubtedly prove a sticking point to anyone who prefers their metal in a more distilled, amplified form. Some of them are a little too long and a little too obscure. But if its avant-garde contemplation you’re after then it’s all perfect fodder. And then brace yourself for the blackened ear drum-mangling barrages. Yes, Kadingir tends to shun the sometimes warbling and unnecessary complexity of some of its occult peers with some fairly straightforward black metal blasts. But it’s all thoroughly entertaining, of course, and at times exhilarating even if it stays just on the wrong side of genius and never quite manages to crystallise what you hope it might at the outset. There’s some impressive cosmic moments in here but I suspect Kadingir is best suited to those who are already lost down the black hole rather than one to pull in unsuspecting travellers.

(7.5/10 Reverend Darkstanley)