October 20, 2017

Yellow Eyes - Immersion Trench Reverie

By Justin C. I've always had an interesting listener-band relationship with Yellow Eyes. I jumped on board with their 2013 full-length, Hammer of Night, but not without some resistance. It's entirely possible I'm developing synesthesia
By Justin C.


I've always had an interesting listener-band relationship with Yellow Eyes. I jumped on board with their 2013 full-length, Hammer of Night, but not without some resistance. It's entirely possible I'm developing synesthesia, but Yellow Eyes' sound is abrasive in an almost physically tactile way. Describing metal music often involves figurative physical descriptions of head-snapping and gut-punching, but Yellow Eyes sometimes seems like they're trying to scrape the outer layer of my epidermis off. I resist it at first, sometimes finding it a bit too hard to listen to, but then I end up listening to each new album 17 times in a row.

And that remains true on their new album, Immersion Trench Reverie. I really loved Sick with Bloom, which our own Mr. Sunyata described thusly: "Whorls and eddies of dense melodic alchemy evoke the nofucksgiving of Weakling, while skirting the esoteric inhumanity of Krallice." That certainly applies to Immersion, and I'd have a hard time topping that description, but I'll see what I can do.

Immersion Trench Reverie lacks some of the immediacy that I felt with Sick with Bloom, but that's not a knock on either album. Immersion is dense, dissonant, and difficult, but every time I thought I might take a break from it, I felt pulled back. I started to crave that low-fi-but-not-really esthetic, scratching an itch somewhere in my brain. I needed to hear the contrapuntal riffs that open up "Shrillness in the Heated Grass," punctuated by Will Skarstad's pained shrieks. Or the quiet acoustic instruments that open "Blue as Blue," only to give way to layers of distorted guitar I'd call "lush" if they didn't retain so much of their harsh edge.

The visual imagery invoked by the song titles and lyrics are another fascinating facet of the music. The album title brings to mind the trench warfare of World War I (when the term "trench foot" came into use to describe the horrible damage done to the feet of soldiers constantly standing in cold water), while "Velvet on the Horns" of course brings to mind deer shedding the fuzzy outer coating of their horns--often by scraping them against trees--in preparation for rutting season and stag battle. "Velvet" was the only song I had lyrics to at the time of this writing, and the lyrics manage to be evocative and oblique at the same time. The song opens with the stanza

Overnight
Or was it not
Green ragged cloth had fallen
On the path
The way I took had velvet on the horn

Certainly sounds woodsy, but the later lyrics go in almost a suburban direction:

Imagine that a propane tank
When squarely struck
Becomes a bell
Yet huddles by the driveway in the cold

Why do I suddenly have melancholy feelings for an anthropomorphized propane tank? What is this black metal witchery?

Kim Kelly summed up Sick with Bloom in her 2015 year-end list as simply "The future of American black metal." I agree wholeheartedly, and that makes Immersion the beguiling next step into that promising future.

Tagged with 2017, black metal, Justin C, Yellow Eyes
1 comment:
  1. Good stuff! Thanks for the reminder of how...interesting...these guys can be!

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