Our own Dave Schalek wrote about a demo from Florida's Tetragrammaton a few week's back. That demo featured just two short tracks of doomy black metal that immediately appealed to me, but it did nothing to prepare me for the band's EP, Descendere. In this case, "EP" seems woefully inadequate to describe a musical offering that's as dense as a neutron star.
The songs, titled "sermons," have swelled into the eight- to ten-minute range, and each of the three tracks is separated into two movements, for lack of a better term, both in terms of lyrics and sound. As you might guess from the band's name itself and the fact that the songs are called "sermons," the lyrical content (kindly provided in full on Bandcamp) focuses on religion and mysticism. I found references to Kabbalah and Thelema, and I'm sure there are more I missed. I suspect it would take someone with a degree in comparative religion to tease out the full narrative thread of what appears to be a concept album, but even as a layman, I had fun poking around into what I could pick out of the lyrics.
Since I can't provide a better analysis of the narrative arc, I'll focus on what I know a bit more about, namely the sounds. I'd probably call this black metal at its very base, but it borrows liberally from doom and sludge. The vocals are delivered by someone who often sounds like his larynx has been 99% replaced with scar tissue, although you'll find some lovely cleans deep in the mix, notably in "First Sermon." The guitars are often split into two layers, one featuring straightforward sludgy riffs, and the other providing droning sustained notes floating on top. The drumming is a real stand out here. "Blasting" doesn't really do justice to some of the furious freakouts you'll find throughout. There are moments in "First Sermon" when it sounds like the band, led by the percussion, is trying to rip a hole in time and space. The movements in the songs themselves add more differentiation and depth--compare the punk energy that starts "Third Sermon" with the doomy second half, or check out the full stop in the middle "Second Sermon," where an ambient section that appears to be provided by another band entirely (credited to Nuit in the lyrics).
My first listen to this was a casual one, in the car, and although I liked it, I didn't find much to hang onto. As trite as it is to say, "This album deserves your full attention!" in a metal review, it couldn't be more true in this case. On this EP, Tetragrammaton band has provided "more" in every sense of the word.