Genre: Black / Doom Metal
This is an eminently unusual release. Not a lot of information about the project have seen the light of day either, as there is no input who the members are, or their past experience. Finnish project Labor Intvs release their debut full length Sunken Crucible quietly in terms of promotion, but fairly vehemently in terms of musical payload. Self-labeled as introspective blackened death / doom metal, it is an accurate enough description even if this record can still catch you off guard quite easily, as it’s overpacked with ideas and often in ways you might have not heard before.
While that’s a big statement in the day and age when everything has been played in the past, and at the same time Labor Intvs don’t introduce new basic elements, Sunken Crucible showcases a rather remarkable combination of different sub styles of black metal, with a few ounces of doom, slight drone, and a fair chunk of forward thinking composition structure. It isn’t perfect by any means, but its fair amount of brilliant moments. It’s not a short record either, with its 51 minutes of duration seeming to be a knife that cuts from both sides, yet Labor Intvs – while at times skating on thin ice – manage to maintain interest throughout the whole listening experience. For a debut album, the production is remarkably balanced, which suggests a professionally made album. On the other hand, the few tapes that are released are DIY created, and they are not of high quality or “may contain glitches here and there”. In my book, that’s a win on both fronts, but it might not add up.
If you’re looking for some dissonant black metal, you will find some immensely forceful parts of that in Sunken Crucible. Sections in “Vitriol”, “In Dread Tartarus”, or “Divine Silence”, feature top-notch, attacking orthodox black metal of the best kind. At the same time, these tracks as well as others, include segments that are highly experimental, creating a distorted atmosphere, such that’s not really common to come across. The potency of the melodies in the record is huge, with absolutely thrilling moments in the slow-paced riffing of “Tantalust” or the haunting samples in the introduction of the longest track “Labvrinth”. This track also hosts heavy experimentation, especially towards the end, similar to the eerie aesthetics that are exerted from the last moments of the record in “Divine Silence”. It might be too long for some, as is the almost one-dimensional, drone-ish introduction track “Abject Spirit”. While I love the recording of it’s first seconds, its layer of thick noise following would have been a skippable track in a different release. Here, I’m sitting waiting, what’s coming next? Captivating.
I would say Sunken Crucible has much more black than doom metal, but not in the traditional way of any of the two. What happens frequently with records that aim to be more avant-garde, or full force dissonant, is that the technicality and compositional absurdity overrides their repeatability, and they are completely off more casual listening. The argument is always that these records are that complex by nature, but now appears a release, equally intriguing, equally complex, that’s also addictive enough for repetitive listens for a longer period of time. I would say Labor Intvs is something like the bastard spawn of The Ruins of Beverast and Deathspell Omega, with some extra instrumental piecework of unknown origins, but yes, it’s also definitely introspective.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, maybe the best artwork I’ve seen this year.
1. Abject Spirit
4. In Dread Tartarus
6. The Final Threshold
7. Divine Silence
Damage: 4.5/5 [Brilliant]