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Black and doom metal's adept see stylistic norms as a suggestion and assumed genre limitations as a challenge. Through the years we've seen Ulver break the mold with romantic folk inflections, Xasthur's darkwave-tinted lenses, and Ephel Duath's avant-jazz schizophrenia all broaden extreme metal's horizons while still operating under the same banner. Why? Artistic intent is certainly key, but I also view these sorts of genre as an implementation of an underlying emotion. Even the most erratic, violent black metal carries a subdued sense of longing and desperation (for extreme examples, see: some of the melodies in Sort Vokter's Folkloric Necro Metal or the exhaustion in any Bone Awl song). Obviously, this is a more radical view of a style so strictly defined by the majority of its fanbase, and yet artists like Italian black/doom metal duo Asofy share my belief in action.

Upon listening to Asofy's third album, Nessun Luogo, their status as a black or doom metal band immediately comes into question. Multi-instrumentalist Tryfar's (also of Sleeping Village, who could use some new material) instrumental work speaks to the sadness found in "depressive black metal" and the slow lethargy of doom metal, and Empio's empty howls certainly echo the resignation of bands like Strid, but the actual execution places Asofy in a separate category, if only superficially. On the surface, Nessun Luogo has more to do with darkwave, post-rock, and maybe even some later-Earth-styled drone/doom metal, but it feels like a doomed black metal album, feeding off that feeling of desperation which is integral to so many great black metal releases. Thus inspires a philosophical debate - is intent separate from execution? Moreover, when does music fully depart from genre? Do such constraints even matter? Asofy's uncomfortable, sparse, dark music draws from so many sources that its horizons appear to be limitless, but Nessun Luogo also feels like a genre distillation, if only based on emotion. The meditative, haunting music found on this album is the embodiment of what brought black metal from the second wave to this point in time.

Nessun Luogo will be released on CD in both a digipak and box set by Avantgarde Music. Head below for an exclusive first listen of the album in full.

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Follow Asofy on Bandcamp and their webpage.

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