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Premiere: Belus – “Amidst Decay”

The Band

Brooklyn’s Belus formed in 2010, solidifying their trio around 2012. Over a demo and a 2013 EP titled Deserted, they’ve taken the sludgy doom of, say, Burning Witch, and armed it with a blackened exoskeleton, resulting in tunes that skitter and pinch.

The Release

Belus join Anicon, another squad of New Yorkers, on this four track split. Each group chip in two tracks, with Belus’ side culled from the same session that birthed Deserted. Anicon — featuring members from Krallice, Geryon, Trenchgrinder, and more — aim for action and adventure, nestling into the USBM-as-a-journey niche of the style’s creamier contributors.

The Song

Back to Belus. Give this a read:

“We are a doom band that plays fast 90% of the time.”

That’s from the ‘about’ section on Belus’ Soundcloud page. Aside from the wink, it outright nails the outfit’s musical outlook. The three-piece schedule a playdate between black metal and doom. The former buzzes on a sugar rush, the latter is the methodical playground muscle. The teamwork is seamless, netting mucho lunch money. Their tools? A lot of jabs followed by the haymaker.

However, “Amidst Decay” doesn’t start that way. Its first impression isn’t intimidation. No, it begins with ringing guitars. It’s light, bare, and unguarded. Nevertheless, the section still renders a beastly body blow. No matter the timbral shade or volume, you feel it since Belus are the epitome of one of doom’s most important requirements: Belus need to be felt. And as soon as you start surveying the soundwaves of “Amidst”‘s opening more deeply — the slightly dissonant strums that lap the shore, the bass lines supporting the low end like a trust fall exercise — you feel that pang. It’s that hurt sneaking behind your eyes whenever real life starts shooting live rounds.

So, when Belus make good on the promise of quickness and the track gains traction, you’re already in the right mood due to the preface. That’s clever. Yet, don’t mistake this for an overwrought art installation. “Amidst Decay” is forceful, unvarnished, immediate. Just as the air turns black, you’re roughed up as though you’ve been rag-dolled by a super-sized swell. From there, doom and black metal do their thunder and lightning thing, nimbly avoiding the toes of the other. The compositional flow blocks your perception of time; akin to the clock-less floor of a Vegas casino. In short order, 10 minutes have ticked away without you noticing, thus skillfully avoiding poorer doom’s ponderous pratfalls. What time is it? Time to play it again.

Fast doom. As Fenriz often belabors in lectures, doom has got to be dynamic. Hey, worked for the old school master-masons of epic masses. Works for Belus, too.

“Amidst Decay” will be available in June on the Anicon / Belus split, a release presented jointly by Dead Section Records and Fragile Branch. New Yorkers, don’t forget to drop into their record release show June 4 at the Acheron.

— Ian Chainey

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