Album debut: Torrid Husk – Caesious EP

Torrid Husk list the following bands as influences on their Facebook page:

Behexen, Krohm, Sargeist, Peste Noire, Abyssic Hate, Drudkh, Blut Aus Nord, Dark Funeral, Inquisition, Goatmoon, Satanic Warmaster, Moonblood

Pretty necro. This young three-piece hails from the eastern U.S., which is hardly the most conventionally black metal-ish part of North America. On the other hand, they’re from West Virginia, which is appropriately mountainous and sparsely populated.

I bring this up because Torrid Husk seems to care about such details, and because they conveniently reflect the band’s oddly divided self-presentation. The cover for their 2013 debut mini-LP Mingo (which you can stream on their Bandcamp) sports a pretty, peaceful painting of a woman looking up at a night sky: not necro. The music is melodic American black metal — you’d expect as much from the cover. But the recording has a distinctly un-American fuzz, and it was only pressed to a hilariously limited run of 10 cassettes: necro. The only Torrid Husk interview I could find online involves a bizarre combination of second wave-style self-aggrandizement and Hewhocorrupts-esque faux corporate lingo. For instance:

How would you describe the musical sound that is present on the new album?

Sound is irrelevant. Mingo is as much an euphoric sensual experience as it is an omnipotent entity, destroying and revitalizing its essence with each subsequent examination of the prerequisite intellectual holdings and alluring intricacies of the depth and breadth of the subject matter.

…is followed by:

What direction do you see your music heading into on future releases?

We seek to expand our share of the international financial architecture, produce boundless returns for our most loyal investors, and transcend the multimedia shackles that have held back the droves of imitators and those who lacked the integrity to lead the listener as a shepherd leads his hapless flock. We are confident our album will be available nationwide, on the shelves of every major retailer in the United States by the end of the fiscal quarter.

They’re obviously trolling, but whom and for what reason is unclear. And the muddle continues. Caesious, their upcoming EP, sports an organic but punishing production — it was recorded by the “full-service” Grimoire Records, who also released last year’s promising Myopic EP. Still, its press materials note that it was recorded in a secluded cabin and that it closes with the sound of a log splitter. Necro!

This schizophrenic presentation — neither urban nor rustic, neither thoroughly contemporary nor openly retro — may be entirely accidental, but I like to think that Torrid Husk are doing it on purpose. Caesious might have a garbled identity, but at least it has an identity. It’s fun to try to untangle the threads, and the music makes it worth your while. By black metal standards, this stuff is fast. Drummer Tony Cordone is a powerhouse. His ability to throw in tricky change-ups and contrapuntal beats without breaking the flow reminds me of Maciej “Darkside” Kowalski from Mgla. And the string players put his skills to good use. A lot of black metal bands with really fast drummers just lay on the speed until you get bored and stop paying attention, but these three songs breathe. Melody and dissonance wrestle for position; feels and tempos shift impatiently; outside influences (mostly death metal and post-rock) peek into the frame. It’s difficult music to sum up succinctly, which is part of why it’s good.

These guys sound young. They’re still experimenting with tropes and ingredients while hashing out their approach, as they should. If they last, they’ll do well. Caesious will be out on February 4 via Grimoire Records.

— Doug Moore