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Brown Jenkins – Death Obsession

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Brown Jenkins‘ final album scales back the overt Lovecraftianism of earlier works, but retains that essence. Lovecraft’s world was physical but unknowable. Likewise, Brown Jenkins feels ethereal, even though it has heft. Part of this lies in how the dual guitars are layered. One heaves forward, while the other lurks. Occasionally, the two bear down together, but they never cut a straight line. They leave the impression of something glimpsed and foreboding.

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Death Obsession (Moribund, 2009) takes this sound about as far as it can go. The production is crisper than before, and the often-cited post-punk influence is more noticeable but never feels stitched in. I want black metal to sound intricate and discomforting. This does, like an alien city.

As on previous albums, most of the lyrics are not spoken. Nonetheless, the printed liner notes are carefully crafted. Images of ashes and death rictuses weave through an obscure narrative. Meanings beckon, but stay out of reach. The cover depicts a darkened figure surrounded by a nimbus of wings. The Chinese character for nothingness is printed on its forehead. Death is not a substance so much as a cancellation of the self. “Yours is the petty wisdom, the infant’s breath / The dying alone is ours (we’ll take it from you)”. The void looms.

— Anthony Abboreno


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