Post and Black

Feb. 12, 2016


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Solifvgae is a group from  Rio de Janeiro.  The name is Latin for “the being that avoids the sun.”  They also desire to "represent an unavoidable escape from reality, in despite of all subconscious efforts."  The group is made up of Vitor Coutinho (guitar, programming and composition), Vitor Teixeira (vocal and lyrics), and Bruno Rodrigues (bass e composition).  This is their first release, Avenoir, which is an impressive starting place in the realms of black and post metal.

Now I will throw out the same term "post-black" that the band also uses, but I feel the need to explain that Solifvgae is not post-black in the way of groups like Deafheaven or Bosse-de-Nage.  Rather, they follow the blueprint laid by later albums by Enslaved, which is a confirmed influence of at least Vitor T.  As such, Avenoir is more an ebb and flow of post and black elements, rather than a straight fusion of the two.  The heavy parts are heavy, and the, urm, posty (?) parts are posty.

Take, for example, the first proper track, "Undertow."  After an ambient intro, this 8+ minute song builds slowly, at first not much resembling anything that could be called black metal with melancholy post metal guitar picking backed by atmospheric synth work and even some ocean noises.  It sounds like the opening to an indie or post-hardcore track, or perhaps something more akin to a group like Minsk.  And then suddenly, BAM!, fierce vocals and ferocious tremolo take us straight down to hell.  It was the unmistakably Grutle-sounding shrieks that caused me to make the initial Enslaved connection, but really the style of composition is not something all that different from tracks like "Isa" or "Roots of the Mountain."

I will say that Solifvgae are a bit more subdued in their approach and leave out the proggy chord transitions, favoring tremolo picking and driving drum rhythms to create an overall build.  In this a way, the album is also very much a case of "patience will be rewarded."  This is true not only within each song, but also with the album as a whole.  While there is plenty to take in from the palpable aesthetic of the first half, it is only after the deceptively soothing interlude, "Submerge/Emerge" that my favorite moments rear their heads.

Trust me, if you only have enough time right now to sample just one song to decide whether you should come back for more later, make it "Pathway" or "Ocean."  These tracks are straight bangers.  The former opens with a classical guitar-sounding introduction to the hook you'll be raging to in a few moments.  Once the distortion sets in, I'm butter.  It's vicious black metal with a bit of a 90's alternative edge, again not unlike mid-career Enslaved tracks like "Secrets of the Flesh."

"Ocean," on the other hand, is a bit more expansive in both it's length and scope.  It concludes the album with a fair union of the progressive qualities in the earlier songs, but the newfound intensity and aggression of "Pathway."  As it bulldozes through its runtime, seeming to build strength and momentum every second as a wall of sound builds; you can feel the power behind it.  And then suddenly, it fades into angelic ambience.  Perfection.

I am not entirely sure what the concept here is, but from the album art and name, to the track titles, to the changing tone as the tracks wear on; I get the sense that this is some sort of cohesive journey.  I don't know if it's one through death, hell, or some specified course, but it is clear at least that we are going somewhere, and the objective may be always just out of reach.  Luckily, this album is NOT out of your reach, because it has been released as a Name Your Own Price option.  You're out of excuses.  Pick it up now.