Song debut: Twilight – “Swarming Funeral Mass”

Here’s one you’ve all heard before: “Their first album was their best.” Makes sense. A lot of bands only have one album’s worth of good ideas, and they frequently nail those ideas hardest on the first try. But how often do you hear this one?: “Their last album was their best.” The most obvious example that comes to mind for me is At the Gates, though Slaughter of the Soul won’t be their last album for much longer. Can you guys think of any other famous cases?

The Chicago black metal supergroup Twilight are a strong candidate now. They’ve had many lineup troubles, thanks to the mercurial personalities involved. (You can read a brief summary here.) The lineup on III: Beneath Trident’s Tomb will be the last Twilight iteration: Neill “Imperial” Jameson (Krieg), Stavros Giannopoulos (The Atlas Moth), Jef “Wrest” Whitehead (Leviathan), Sanford Parker (every metal album ever recorded in Chicago), and Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth). The band wasted no time in resolving this issue, announcing their breakup at the same time as the album itself.

Moore’s presence will undoubtedly skew the narrative around Beneath Trident’s Tomb, lightning rod for grumblings about hipster invasions and aging rock douches that he is. But though his contributions merit note (the squealing feedback intro to leadoff single “Lungs” has his prints all over it), he is but one strong personality among several. The real story should be how goddamn good the whole album is. The first two Twilight efforts suffered from classic supergroup syndrome: they were less than the sum of their parts. But the band’s final lineup cohered smoothly, if only for this one studio session, into a single beast. It clanks and groans like it’s powered by steam, but the pain it feels is very human. Witness it, in the form of “Swarming Funeral Mass” — a Wrest/Imperial joint composition — below.

III: Beneath Trident’s Tomb will be out on March 17 via Century Media. Preorder it here.

— Doug Moore