This Notts, Derby based quintet may have only emerged from their “Cave” relatively recently but the member’s collective roots spread a lot further back. They have been involved in plenty of bands whose names should be familiar to those keeping ears on the UK underground scene and these include, Eviscerate Carnage, Bumsnogger, Koresh, Pombagira and Magaladoom among others. With this in mind it comes as a slight surprise that genre wise Antre play a caustic form of black metal, which is both highly atmospheric along with being very dark and churning. Having played gigs in various UK holes with the likes of Winterfylleth and The Infernal Sea and released an EP and split with Underdark, ‘Void’ is their first full length release.
There’s no need to be concerned about this being one of the more hammy and less serious of the UK’s black metal outfits this is deadly stuff and expertly constructed showing the players combined skills as they plough into things and keep up the fire with a shredding attack throughout. The riffing and intensity of the material is where the skill really shines darkly through and this is blackness guaranteed to tear your head off and give you a good dose of brutality. However Antre are not afraid when it comes to dishing up a few surprises along the way. Bleak almost post metal tones take us in to opener ‘Suffer The Light’ and this projects a near Western cinematic feel that you could easily see two gunslingers poised to shoot it out. It’s not long before the explosive might is put to the test and everything is fired out in a tightly co-ordinated volatile fashion. Ex Cacodaemonic vocalist Patrick MacDonald adds a feral yapping bark to this intense delivery and the melodic impetus gleams through from the spiralling fury leaving you under no impression that this is well practiced and expertly played stuff. Far from a one trick cart horse listening under the layers will provide some doomy elements as the band slow down and counterpoised with the speedy flurries this is music you can really focus on and get seriously into. At times such as on the beginning of the heaving quake that is ‘Fear The Old Blood’ the vocals have a bit of a “core” vibe about them as they are rattled out with savage intensity and with the track going like the clappers its invigorating and must come across frenzied in the live setting. The glimmering atmospheric guitar parts take on a gothic grandeur amidst it all and really have you exploring labyrinth caverns in the group’s underworld domain.
Another completely unexpected facet is the inclusion of a couple of gorgeous acoustic instrumental tracks. Sounding like a folk number from bygone times these are fragile and graceful interludes that would not be out of place on an aforementioned Winterfylleth album invoking images of legends of the past. The breathing space from the whirlwind mainframe is welcome and these strangely fit in. It’s the sharp savage stabbing drama of numbers such as ‘Into Oblivion’ which serves up exactly what it suggests that the main focus will be on though and Antre really do excel at going through the throat; give em a decade though and they certainly have the scope to pull off an acoustic album of olde English folk songs. There’s something really catchy about some of this too and surprisingly songs such as ‘Guided By Nightmares’ stick in the head with compulsive in your face melodic thrust but make no mistake they do so without neglecting the savageness and extremity in the slightest. I’m not sure if my ears deceive me but there’s almost something of a Doctor Who theme melody running through this one. I’ve been playing this pretty much non-stop over the last week or so and it really has made an impact. As the obsidian treasure in the gloomy underlying guitar work and the hate-fuelled tumult dropping me down ‘The Infinite Abyss’ once more consumes, I know it won’t be long till I am back here again and hope the band end up on a bill near me soon.
(8/10 Pete Woods)