Experimentation has been present in music since its inception, it helps genres to grow, develop, change and evolve over the course of time for better or for worse. Metal has an ability to soak up history’s musical evolution and vomit it forth in a metallic casing, I guess in some part that is often what makes Metal so intriguing, its sound allows for many different elements to be added into the mix and for it all to work successfully, but can you ever push these boundaries a little too far?

Birthing from the lands of Italy Al Ard arise, formed in 2011 they have become part of a collective known as Nera Cooperativa Sicula who comprise of artists, musicians and other creatives striving to create a sort of sickness through intense experimentation. Al Ard certainly excel in the field of experimentation bringing Dubstep, Drum and Bass, Synth, Noise and Electronica to the world of Black Metal. This self titled album has been long awaited and is finally released through Code666, but does it achieve the bands aforementioned sickness?

The opening track Nero is highly promising, this atmospheric, instrumental soundscape of haunting childlike vocals and distorting notions brings a sense of fear to this album before the strange dark Dubstep overtones leap into the mix. Following this we enter For A Hint Of Divinity, Who Wants To Live Forgotten and the rest of the strange Blackened Electronica. It truly is something different, if you want unique then you got it. However sometimes the overuse of insane Dubstep can make this album feel more like Leprechaun 4 In Space than 2001: A Space Odyssey, nigh on comical in its ridiculous Sci-Fi driven Black Metal.

I can’t sound too downhearted, this album is promising, the tracks Strange Old Practice I and Strange Old Practice II have an almost cyber ritualistic feel to them, which is only later to be shattered in other tracks by strange Drum and Bass rhythms weaved into the pummelling drum programming and harsh robotic screams. I often at points feel this album would be better solely as an experimental Dark Ambient or Noise release.

Al Ard have all the elements to make something truly special and I quite frankly must commend them on creating a totally unique beast, whether or not I would strictly label it as Metal is questionable but all the elements are there, albeit a little sporadically and randomly placed. Overall this self titled debut is a mess, a mess of Electronic venom that I can only imagine would be extremely captivating to witness live, I will keep an eye on Al Ard but my score for this release really sums up my unsure feelings.

(5/10 George Caley)