The first thing we realize upon setting foot in Deathtrip’s personal hell is that this album contains something reminiscent of the great black metal records of the 90s. Riff-wise and sound-wise, it definitely sounds up to date, but its primitiveness and immediacy surely recaptures some of the old magic of the genre’s origin.
After a brief intro, we are taken aback by the razor-sharp riffing of the ‘Flag of Betrayal’. Aldrahn’s performance is definitely a highlight (as is in every song), his versatility and charisma give him a primary role, driving the listener through his own uninhabited and inhospitable region. Amongst the album’s gems is ‘Making Me’, a song drenched in disharmony and bleakness, especially the song’s ending section whose icy minimalistic approach does well to convey a harrowing sense of isolation. Lyrically, -and I am quoting Aldrahn himself in a really enlightening interview he did for Ghost Cult Mag a couple of years ago- it deals with ‘’the complete absence of love, the total isolation from all warmth in life and then becoming it, like wearing it as an entity”.
Generally, the whole album’s lyrics deal with ‘’the sentimental relationship between the self and the subconscious mind, as well as the sub-consciousness of humanity’’ or ‘’about journeying through the darker aspects of the mind, facing up with all sorts of ugliness inside and then forcing through it until it’s done”. They are obviously the outcome of the singer’s very own contemplation, a connection, as well as a disconnection of him and humanity as a whole. Personally, I think that the lyrics are an equally important, and well-crafted, component of the album’s totality; this brief explanation of the lyrics made me communicate with the album on a different level. ‘Syndebukken’ (which translates as ‘scapegoat’ in English) is another song which lured me in its claustrophobic wilderness. Its slow and conquering rhythm, with a fair amount of dissonance thrown in the core of the riffs, is reminiscing of early black metal where forms were simple but highly enticing!
The drums are also either simple, offering an almost industrial aesthetic, or frantic, with the non-intrusive bass sitting nicely underneath, keeping the pulse. This ongoing pace brings forth a hypnotic element that is quite addictive; ‘Dynamic Underworld’ is a very good example of that. In general, Deep Drone Master is founded on hypnotic, repetitive riffs and beats. That being said, this album also demands the listener’s attention, so that he/she can fully get accustomed to the essence of the riffs and let him/herself be driven by the monotony of the patterns used. Once that happens, the listener can see that the album is ultimately rich in its substance, as the monotonous nature of the songs is enhanced by subtle guitar layering, offering a richer backbone to the songs.
One of Deep Drone Master’s most striking drawbacks is definitely the drum sound and its overall mixing. The drums certainly lack punch and depth which is something that makes the overall sound less poweful. I acknowledge that this was probably done on purpose; a cold, mechanic approach is probably what Snorre Ruch was going after, although I strongly believe that if the snare and the bass drums had some actual depth and bass in them the listening experience would be a lot better. Surprisingly enough, the snare in ‘Something Growing in the Trees’ seems to sound slightly different than the other songs and while it’s still devoid of any punch whatsoever, it certainly has a little more depth in its hits.
Wrapping it up, I would like to say that Deep Drone Master is an album that sounds fresh and up to date, while staying true to the 90s black metal aura. It is a direct album, devoid of any alien elements and meaningless experimentations, an album that creates a bleak and cold atmosphere, able to drive one outside the monotonous sphere of his/her earthy existence. Do you dare to make this trip?
A regular CD version of the album was used for this review.
1. Intro (Stirring the Master) – 1:28
2. Flag of Betrayal – 3:35
3. Dynamic Underworld – 4:56
4. Sewer Heart – 3:14
5. Making Me – 5:49
6. Cocoons – 4:38
7. Cosmic Verdict – 3:37
8. Something Growing in the Tree – 4:29
9. A Foot in Each Hell – 3:50
10. Syndebukken – 7:14
Total running time: 42:56
Release date: 2014/11/18
Label: Svart Records