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Expectation is a double-headed axe of wanton destruction, especially in black metal. There are so many criteria to be met, contexts to be adhered to… it seems counterintuitive to creativity. Who are we, the listeners, to set all these goals for the artists who so tirelessly feed us the fruits of their labor? Genre boundaries are one thing, but to give an artist a pinhead to thread the rope of their endeavors gives too much implied control to the listeners. Who wins?

Expectation can, however, be defied to a vastly successful level. Take Eigenlicht, for example. Comprised of notable members of the Pacific Northwest (read as: "Cascadian") black metal scene, it would be expected that this band's debut full-length would be naturalistic, a vast forest painted in swaths of echoed ambiance and delicate acoustics. And that would be fine, it's been a great deal of time since we've heard from Ray Hawes's Skagos, Johnny DeLacy's Fauna, and Yianna Bekris's Vradiazei*, but an unexpected turn in their artistic careers makes this new year start on a more exciting note. Joined by multi-instrumentalist Mara Winter, also in Hawes and DeLacy's neofolk group Ekstasis, Eigenlicht is a warlike beam of feral black metal truth.

Subtly symphonic and viscerally piercing, the lengthy Self-Annihilating Consciousness finds itself in the thin overlap between the vicious and the heady -- black metal which fights the inward battle against consciousness without pretense. As such, Eigenlicht is dramatic, destructive, much like the flaming sword which graces their album cover (and sometimes joins them onstage). An album of big textures and even bigger riffs, this troupe of Cascadian heroes hurls themselves into the inward grey beyond.

No, this violent void-gazing isn't quite what anyone, including yours truly, would expect from such an ensemble cast, but the poison of expectation has met its antidote here. This isn't the "experimental side project" which black metal artists use to escape, but a redefining of careers. These stalwarts have emerged from the forest in psychic battle gear, fully prepared for a battle no one knew they had trained for.

Self-Annihilating Consciousness will be released via Gilead Media and I, Voidhanger Records on February 16th. Listen to an exclusive premiere of "Labrys" below.

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From the artist:

Self-Annihilating Consciousness is an exploration into the realm of gnosis that both illuminates and destroys, that draws out the truth of Being even as it ruptures our conceptions of Self and Other. Molded around a black metal core, it spills open at times into angular meditations, cosmic thralldom, and orgies of ecstatic metallic fervor. The album coheres around mind-altering revelations that bring a mirror to the invoker only to then shatter the reflection. Logos wrestles with Abyss in an eternal struggle over who will properly wield the blazing sword of intangible truth.

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Follow Eigenlicht on Bandcamp.

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*is there ANY news about Vradiazei? It's been so long!

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