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Premiere: Epistasis – “Finisterre”

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For a month as terrible as February (and, here in NYC, where filthy ice caked everything for about 3/4 of the month, it was terrible), it’s been a pretty killer time for fans of various brands of atmospheric/post-black metal. Woods of Desolation and Nasheim’s albums were released, Fluisteraars came out of nowhere to leave jaws hanging, and now Epistasis has sprung up right here in IO HQ’S own NYC backyard. This last is the post-rockiest of the bunch — it’s also the only to feature a trumpet, and the band that might finally get those on the straight and narrow into this whole “experimental” thing.

“Finisterre” is a great way to get to know Epistasis, who will be releasing their second EP, Light Through Dead Glass, soon. The song’s as much about big rock riffs as it is weirdness and fringe black metal, if that makes any sense at all. And skirting the edges of comprehension seems to be Epistasis’ thing. Trumpet and picked guitar dirges are interspersed and overlaid with bonkers solos and violent, frigid blasting that’s kicked into high gear by vocalist/trumpeter Amy Mills, who provides some of the sickest shrieks of 2014 thus far (and who played trumpet on the recent Castevet and Psalm Zero albums). Epistasis features members of NYC locals Couch Slut and Pyrrhon (the drummer, not IO editor and professional yeller Doug), too — they take a page from what Pyrrhon’s all about with a wonkiness factor will both lull you and thrash you. There’s never a dull moment, but a particular highlight has got to be the crescendo that kicks off around 4:00, with the trumpet-as-Siren being a defining factor. If we can play etymologist here, perhaps the trumpet’s the calm before the world-ending storm. It’s a thing of beauty — maybe more metal bands should try out trumpet. (Actually, don’t. Can’t have that on my conscious.)

But really, on the whole, “Finisterre” punches, kicks and screams with remarkable agility and style. It’s catchy while weirding the hell out, decidedly pretty while venturing into atonal territory. Add Light Through Dead Glass to the calendar—it’s out on Crucial Blast on April 1st.

— Wyatt Marshall

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