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Azoth’s “Magnitude of Extinction” Registers a Ten and Annihilates Everything


I don’t know if there’s a better way to make a half-hour seem like four than to blast incredible soundwaves into my brain at high intensity through a decent set of headphones in the middle of the goddamn night. Oddly enough, few albums resonate their best this way, as insomniatic mind-purges that desperately need corked all require one hell of a fucking cork, and an album must be huge in every conceivable dimension to suffice. Turns out, the only music that can achieve such nocturnal grandiosity, for me at least, all fall under my personal category of “night music,” under which I gather examples of what I’m talking about here. It’s a clever tag, yes, but there’s more: this is music which not only sounds better at night, but just is better at night. It’s enhanced by night, fed by the shadowy essence of nocturne itself, understood only fully by a sleep-deprived mind; it animates only when life-giving solar powers are at their most distant, when the eyes of the gods are shut, when the beasts come out.

Lurking ominously in angular, disjointed patches of darkness whose opacities vary unpredictably is newly formed black metal entity Azoth. There are a literal fuckton of “newly formed black metal entities” out there, but this is one you should definitely care about, and I mean that. I say this not because I love to gush about albums I wholeheartedly adore and appreciate (okay, a bit), but because Azoth’s debut release Magnitude of Extinction flat-out masters this category of “night music” which has formed the cornerstone of all my favorite music ever. Of course I listen to music during the day too, but I can never fully experience an album unless I’m alone, in the dark, tucked away, devoid of notifications, drained of energy, and generally able to open my mind for sonic manipulation sans distraction. And that’s right when and where Magnitude of Extinction bursts so vividly with its radiant negative light: no matter how many times I play it again and again, this set of five songs melts my consciousness into a puddle during those late-night forays into heady wonderlands.

Black metal is rarely executed this well, either thematically or mechanically. The instrumental prestige of the artists involved in Azoth can go without saying; just listen to these songs and their complexity and tightness will impress without distracting from the song itself. That’s just the surface, though, and it’s the wavelengths and undulations of atmospheric intensity where the real art is found. Since atmosphere manifests from the music as a whole, it must be summoned by the group rather than “programmed” or otherwise created by one individual; this makes atmosphere (in black metal especially, as it’s the metal of atmosphere) something notoriously difficult to nail or even wrangle with.

Azoth just do it though, and so furiously well too: Magnitude of Extinction‘s atmospherics are hyper-dynamic, they ebb and flow simultaneously and leave no traces or hints as to what’s past or what’s next. The listening experience is, in this way, extremely exciting and engaging, because it’s not just instrumental tension exciting the brain, it’s tense unpredictably within the atmosphere itself. Sure enough, Azoth’s gamut is wide, illustrating deep and doomy valleys alongside lofty peaks that scrape the heavens open. And they pack all this within a half-hour — the band makes it feel like four — without feeling urged or crammed.

Magnitude of Extinction is an extremely visceral album, which is again why it thrives at night when visual and auditory stimuli are dampened. It may slice some ears too hard, which is fine too, but that’s a small price to pay for achieving such masterclass songwriting in an over-saturated genre. As the album builds and decays so dramatically throughout its runtime, I feel like I’m being carted along for the ride, disarmed from myself and almost at the behest of the music’s beckon — this power comes only with a certain few albums in my library, those beholden only to the darkest of nights, and Magnitude of Extinction is one hell of a welcome entry right there where it belongs.

Magnitude of Extinction released January 5th via Vigor Desconstruct.

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