Terra Tenebrosa first came to my attention when a friend recommended their album “The Tunnels” (2013), which I bought. What I heard then from this Swedish band was dark and grim and representative of hopelessness. A word I read recently to describe Terra Tenebrosa is “Dante-esque”. I agree.
Ghoulish sounds, echoes and horror are very much to the fore on this album. “The Reverses” is one ghastly nightmare. Distortion matches screams, whisperings and a black metal sound of dark and extreme proportions. Yes, this is Dante’s inferno in musical form. It’s industrial and nightmarish. Through the bludgeoning bass and remorseless drum there is what the publicity describes as a “destructive rhythmic march”. The vocalist hisses evil, but what makes tracks like “The End is Mine to Ride” even more frightening is the brain-tweaking chaos, which somehow transforms itself into something dominant in spite of all the disorder. It came as no surprise to read that a member of Blut aus Nord is a collaborator, but let it not be forgotten that this is at the nastiest end of the scale. Evil winds sweep through the machinery whose purpose seems to be to mangle us. Crashing drums, sweeping and terror-driven voices and expansively terrifying soundscapes capture the scene. This is not a world you’d want to get mixed up with. The ambience never alters, so each track contains similar measures of extreme malevolence. The difference lies in the mix of chaotic sounds, which are enhanced by the sound effects matching the thunderous core. “Where Shadows Have Teeth” stops momentarily and to a distorted sound of a harpsichord or something similar, there is heavy breathing as if a monster is about to come out and consume us. “Exuvia” sounds as if the monster has emerged from a swamp. The sound builds up as if it is getting closer and destroying all around it. The framework is a scary monotone soundtrack. It ends with distant echoes. “Fire Dances”, almost seventeen minutes in length, comes in and breaks the silence. The drum beat is remorseless, as the wall of sound reverberates spookily. The progression is recognisably black metal but typically it is surrounding by hissing vocals, merciless screams, echoes and sound distortions. It is the antithesis of humanity.
“The Reverses” depicts cavernous depths and takes us into a cold, dark world. The sound structures are simply awesome. This soundtrack-like ode to destruction and chaos is a brilliant example of atmospheric extreme metal.
(9/10 Andrew Doherty)