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Another day, another repetitive, boring, forgettable one-man black metal project.

That’s what I thought right before I clicked on the promo link to listen to Valis, the first full-length album by the Bay area’s Mastery. Twenty seconds in, I knew I was listening to something special, even though it took all my effort to keep listening.

First things first, Mastery is intense. The sound, a chaotic mix of raw black metal and freeform jazz, packs a staggering amount of chaos per second—the PR sheet boasts “upwards of 100 riffs per song.” It’s the kind of excess that one should expect from a man who chose Ephemeral Domignostika as his pseudonym.

Domignostika is best known, perhaps, as a vocalist for various short lived corpsepaint purveyors such as Horn of Dagoth, Pale Chalice and Ashuba. In another project, Pandiscordian Necrogenesis, this multisyllabic gentleman improvises on every instrument—at the same time. While I’d love to see someone shred, scream and blastbeat at once, it doesn’t sound so appealing on record. Fortunately he’s playing the instruments separately in Mastery, but every piece of the puzzle is still improvised. Not that it’s easy to appreciate the individual jazz elements while they’re floating in a sea of grinding, hissing noise. This might be the most difficult to listen to piece of music I’ve ever heard in connection to IO—appropriate it’s being released on The Flenser, a label named after the act of stripping blubber from animal flesh.

Check out opening track "V.A.L.I.S.V.E.S.S.E.L." below and tell me what you think. Be warned, however, don’t jam this loud near coworkers. They may think there’s something wrong with you.

—Joseph Schafer

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Valis drops February 17 via The Flenser.

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