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Never, Nothing, NONE: “Life Has Gone on Long Enough”

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There are few methods more effective in achieving music’s potential as an emotional conduit than knighting it as a protectorate of anonymity. An aptly named no-name act becomes the tabula rasa for all those who find themselves clicking through YouTube or Bandcamp alone in the dark. Combined with the strategic placement of atmospherics, a great emotional expulsion becomes possible for all listless listeners, regardless of where the roots of their goosebumps lie. This feat within the realm of atmospheric black metal is exactly what Hypnotic Dirge will call forth on April 11th: Life Has Gone On Long Enough, party of NONE.

Just a year after the release of their debut self-titled album, the Portland-based duo shows no sign of slowing down even as their signature somber sulking suggests otherwise. Such a characteristic is reflected in Life Has Gone On Long Enough itself. As tracks seamlessly plod along in their interwovenness in the face of emotionally delicate-but-jarring piano and synth, we are reminded that even though melancholy is often equated to stagnation, reality speaks to a more nuanced narrative. There’s no harsher condition than having to carry on when all you want to do is stand still. This affliction may plague an entire life trajectory, or just a single chapter, but it spares few nevertheless.

NONE further embodies this beautiful cruelty through the unrelenting forces of nature. Whether its exposure to the winds that wind us or the fall of a storm demanded by uncontrollable tides, we remain in constant relation to what surrounds. Like the shifting of a season, “A World, Dead and Gray” builds off the ending riffs of opener “Bleak, Damp, and Dead,” gradually forming a climate sustained through the foundation of rhythm guitar. That does not mean nature is immune from swift bouts of frailty and loss, though. Like a snowflake, the bulk of instrumentals eventually falls, leaving them to be crushed by the return of singular piano strokes and the air’s light breath.

This back-and-forth is further conveyed through “Bed the Cold Earth,” as piano evokes a blinding snowfall, and wails embody the pain that manage to echo through. A resulting hypnotic quality — like a ballerina spinning in a music box — captures the delicate oppression of a snowfall. But perhaps another interpretation can be considered in order to extinguish nature’s nihilism. We have all experienced times when ice and illness seemed like a curse, when really, they forced us to the slow our heartbeats to a more stable pace.

Life Has Gone On Long Enough‘s accessibility is not limited to its themes. Stylistically, it bridges two schools of atmospheric black metal; their gap being the leading cause of comment section stone-throwing. In “Bed the Cold Earth,” NONE remains cautious in its optimism, melding the light of post-black and the eternal pessimism of traditional second-wave. There are moments where it feels like riffs are going to break into an Unreqvited-style, major-keyed epic.

NONE serves as neutral ground for fickle fringes of black metal, as well as a universal tweaker of goosebumps. And so, we are left with a form of Autonomous Sensory Metal Response (ASMR) that has a stitch more substance than the sound of a Vlasic pickle being crunched into a microphone. For that, NONE — whoever you are — we thank you.

— Jenna DePasquale

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