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One Master – “Lycanthropic Burrowing” (Album Premiere)

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Black metal has never prided itself on digestibility, and to its benefit. This arises from its maximalist tendencies, e.g. challenging song structures, extreme aesthetics, solid walls of sound, etc. With so much going on, the danger is overdoing it, stepping over the fine line between artless cacophony and surreal symphony. Most black metal bands don’t press the limit, and that’s fine: there’s more to powerful expression than being extreme. But some do search for the art in challenging convention, like East Coasters One Master with their upcoming fourth full-length Lycanthropic Burrowing. Check out an exclusive stream below.

True fact: production quality matters (and often goes un-talked about), and One Master have meticulously honed a gritty but pure sound. They sought total clarity (each instrument discernable, especially vocalist Valder’s harsh shrieks), but not by polishing. Rather, it’s a targeted rawness, both acute and uncompromising. Lycanthropic Burrowing feels rancorous, but isn’t a racket. That’s the delicate balance: suppleness to foster complex texture versus rigidity to grind eardrums into powder. Fuzz is present as aftereffect, but relegated to a background murmur; a sharply focused midrange amplifies piercing tones which attack like goddamn missiles. Any ear fatigue notwithstanding, this album demands high volume at high fidelity, and a ton of listener endurance.

That all said, it’s not like Lycanthropic Burrowing is unlistenable. Au contraire. It sadistically delights by inflicting its pain. Catchy guitarwork offers hooks aplenty for those not (initially) into the pain-as-pleasure thing. Once reeled in, the brain scramble courtesy of the aforementioned production aesthetics becomes welcome relief from the onslaught’s tumult. Lycanthropic Burrowing is harrowing, all-encompassing, unrelenting, and malignant. Tracks are built on triangle waveforms, jarring between swaths of high-bpm blast beats (featuring extra crash) and doomy, depressive retreats. Hard-charging thrash riffs (with punky drum twists) act as connective tissue and add a welcome “let’s fuckin’ rock!” juxtaposition to an otherwise inward, claustrophobic listening experience.

Speaking of inward experiences, Lycanthropic Burrowing’s overall intensity feels head-rushy and palpatory, taken right to the limit of comfort. Even the slowest moments are aggressive and foreboding, driven by unsettling anxiety. It just doesn’t stop: one full listen makes any subsequent music sound like a sunny meadow. Normally, such immense effrontery comes as one dumb hammerblow. Here, One Master eviscerates intricately: satisfying detail exists both in the instrumental precision (offsetting the messiness of beyond-max volume/distortion) and unpredictable atmospherics. Operating on two levels, One Master is simultaneously grounded in headbangable black metal riffs and aloft with spiky sound-walls and mind-swallowing climaxes.

This depth sets One Master apart from other especially noisy acts. Instead of inducing horror with occluded, foggy visions, they opt for jabbing at your perception with high-resolution imagery (if the album artwork says anything). Again, this reflects in how it’s been produced, arranged, and executed. Sometimes the most disorienting or confusing nightmares aren’t the worst. It’s the lucid ones where you feel immediately present in your fear. Disturbingly vivid, Lycanthropic Burrowing becomes real despite its nightmare-like aura. It invokes a situation where volition is absent, where even your helplessness serves no purpose. And perhaps as the soundtrack to, say, whitewater rafting down the River Styx, it’s not for the faint of heart.

Lycanthropic Burrowing releases on July 14 via Eternal Death. Preorder here.

“Like all of our albums, the songs on Lycanthropic Burrowing are centered around a common theme — this time, understanding and attempting to gain control over the irrational and animalistic aspects of one’s mind. All of the songs touch on a different aspect of that concept — “The Claws of Dionysus,” a glimpse into the power one can gain from wild and unburdened excess; “Will of the Shadow,” understanding the irrational and often unconscious purpose/goals driving oneself; “The Black Bat,” the need to escape from others to understand one’s psyche; “Death Resurrection,” purposefully acting to gain strength from the animalistic aspects of the psyche that religious and secular ideologies attempt to eradicate; “Erosion,” washing away the barriers to understanding oneself; and “Lycanthropic Burrowing,” the project of harnessing and being able to move back and forth between both the rational and irrational aspects of one’s mind, becoming a “werewolf” in that sense.

Musically, the songs on this album were written in a shorter time period than the last, so they are a bit more focused and direct. The only musical parts that pre-dated our last album are a few things in the song “Erosion,” so it’s almost completely a new set of ideas for the band.

The artwork was made by the same artist who did everything for the last album — Dave Fogg (Fog Palace). He is a friend and immediately understands what kinds of images will match the themes of our songs. The labyrinth and werewolf centerpiece on the cover sum up the theme of the album perfectly.”

-Valder

Follow One Master on Facebook here.

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