Although they would no doubt be horrified at being labelled a supergroup, US black metal collaborative Twilight are comprised of some of the leading, or should that be darkest lights in the US underground. Featuring Imperial of Krieg, Wrest of Leviathan, Stavros Giannopoulos of The Atlas Moth and the evergreen Sandford Parker of Minsk and Corrections House, Twilight boast an impressive line-up of experienced musicians well versed in the dark arts. The recent addition of Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore to the band raised more than a few eyebrows given his supposedly ‘mainstream’ pedigree, but it was the acrimonious departure of Nachtmystium mainman and long-term Twilight member Blake Judd, amid accusations of theft and plagiarism that was the real cause for alarm. So, can this rather dysfunctional family of misfits hold it together on what will be Twilight’s final album?
The first thing to say is that listening to “III…” is like being slowly and mercilessly smothered in thick black tar chock full of twisted mechanical shapes produced in the result of an explosion in one of the dread-haunted factories that feature in the fiction of obscure US horror author Thomas Ligotti. Parker, aided by Moore has coated the record in a layer of harsh, abrasive noise and restless, disorientating power electronics that go off like grenades frequently and without warning. This gives the riffs of Giannopoulos a sluggish, lurching quality, like a hunchback dragging his latest kill back to his lair, as the pounding beat of opening track ‘Lungs’ demonstrates. ‘Oh Wretched Son’ follows in a disorientating mire of decaying melodies that almost call to mind images of Botch playing on the set of Eraserhead before the first blasting section hits home with the force of an industrial machine powering brutally to life and as you are enveloped in Imperial’s grotesque shrieks, Wrest’s powerful drumming and a wall of distortion the whole thing feels horrifyingly life-affirming.
The apocalyptic doom riffs and marching, vaguely militaristic electronica of ‘Swarming Funereal Mass’ would be enough to convince anyone that those earlier feelings were well off the mark and that life is in fact not worth living. This track, penned by Wrest feels utterly bereft of hope, a solitary march to the gallows that soon degenerates into a howling cacophony of despair and bleakness. And we’re not even halfway through yet. ‘Seek No Shelter Fevered Ones’ is the first taste we have of the post metal that sheened previous release “Monument to Time End” with its slowly meandering riff snaking through the murk like some malign serpent before the pace increases again, aided by Wrest’s one-two punch percussion and sound effects that sound like a robot having its head twisted off. A similar theme is explored in the grim collapse and crush of ‘A Flood of Eyes’ where the blast part approaches white noise regions of distortion before we are finally discarded down the well with the skittish noise coda of ‘Below Lights’, a particularly unpleasant treat courtesy of Parker.
Clocking in at a mere forty-one minutes, “III: Beneath Trident’s Tomb” is no long drawn out endurance test like the latest release from The Ruins of Beverast, which explored a different kind of darkness, but it is an experience of similarly unnerving proportions. The mad geniuses who concocted this record have drawn on their own personal demons and scorn for this foul planet to produce something as ugly as the world they see around them. This is what lurks on the other side of the stone, behind the white picket fences, a coalesced pile of swarming disgust that should remain hidden but has an inexorable will of its own. Far harder to get into than the previous album, and much more geared towards noise than black metal, this is a fitting swansong and a firm ‘fuck you’ to poseurs and those who seek to betray you. Whether they’ll change their mind and re-group in a few years remains to be seen but if not, “III: Beneath Trident’s Tomb” is an appropriately unpleasant epitaph.