Black Metal has a way of worming its way into all manner of other subgenres, almost unlike any other Metal subgenre. I’ve seen Blackened Hardcore, Black Noise, Blackgaze Post-Black Metal the list is frankly endless. I think in part this is due to Black Metals early flirtations with Symphonic elements and equally Dark Ambient ideas. A genre which was constructed as a rebellion towards ‘false’ Metal genres has since become the subject of the most pop culture sensation and adaptability out of any Metal subgenre. I would even go as far to to term Black Metal as a household phrase, more so than its extreme cousin Death Metal.
Taking Black Metals pliability to the highest extents come Lice. An obscure collective of musicians featuring the DSBM powerhouse Niklas Kvarforth from the mighty Shining, not to mention J from that catastrophic Blackened Death Metal barbarians Teitanblood and guitarist Kirill Krowli. This unholy trio aim to bring about suffering, misery and the avant-garde via their debut full length Woe Betide You put out through Season Of Mist. If you like experimental notions within a Blackened landscape then this is sure to be your ticket towards depression, melancholy and the totally weird, sick and depraved.
Beyond Eternal Recurrence is a beautiful, ethereal instrumental Blackgaze opener that sets the tone for this album and represents a twisted beam of light amid the coffined and shrouded blackness within. Spitting forth with Alcest influence this track leaks elements of Black Metal whilst still retaining a sort of obscure happiness. Layers Of Dirt opens our ears to the experimental nature within, twisted riffs weave into the spewing vocals from the titanic Kvarforth and we see a side to his vocals that is equal parts Shining and equal parts bizarre, developing and different. Perhaps it is the setting that gives off this vibe but either way they are hideous, anguish fuelled and injected with self-hatred.
Level Below sees things mixed up again with the addition of some powerful clean vocals and more Blackgaze/ Post-Black Metal musing in the instrumentation. It’s important to note that whilst this album is avant-garde and genre-defying it doesn’t lose our attention or become too full of its own importance. Each track is a striking journey tied together with Black Metal but equally exploring its own themes, Roadkill is another example of this it’s slower pace and more gentle touch make it a smooth listen but it still packs a punch at points arguably playing with Progressive notions and giving us more of Kvarforth’s unending talents. At its climax Woe Betide You presents us with Pride Eraser and the fiendish …And So The Ceaseless Murmur Of The World Came To An End. Both of which in their own right are epic Blackened twists of oddity and spectacle that leave the listener asking for more.
To sum it up Lice have come into the fray with storming force. Often these super-groups can be tiresome, and often they are bolstered merely by their icons. Yet for Lice this is not the case, a strong album with a great deal to muse upon both for the casual listener and those more initiated. The genre-defying tone is also something that becomes devoid of labels and stereotypical connotations which whilst antagonistic for purists is a wonderment for those with a more open mind. I would also add that if you’re into any form of more fringe Black Metal then this will tick some sort of box with you, you may not enjoy every morsel but there is sure to be enough to please the senses.
(8/10 George Caley)