Chasma – Declarations of the Grand Artificer (Moribund Records)

Saturday, 23rd March 2013
Rating: 7/10

Spawned by Agalloch and popularized more recently by Wolves In the Throne Room, the Cascadian black metal scene is gradually swelling. Limited to the Northwest part of the United States (specifically the wooded areas), this style of extreme metal is built to lavish the praise of nature and meld disparate elements into the long-flogged corpse of BM. It’s not as enticing as it sounds to be honest, for a lot of these bands appear to be too self-righteous. The jury is still out on Oregon’s Chasma, yet their Declarations of the Grand Artificerdoesn’t exactly inspire the need to plop down in a forest with one’s iPod in tow.

At three songs and 33 minutes, Declarations… is compressed listen, like most LP’s that have few songs, but long song lengths. The song-within-a-song, within-another-song approach has its advantages, for the crescendo that takes off around the 8:30 mark on opener “Daystar Angelwar” is as desolate as anything WITTR have done recently. Beyond that, Chasma pretty much chucks the same old smeared land soil black metal ideas at this listener, including the pre-requisite amount of shrill-y shriek, hushed-into-full-blast portions, and tribal build-ups. It’s nothing that hasn’t been done in the five years.

Obviously, the Cascadian black metal bar is set extraordinarily high, and it’s going to be difficult for Chasma to be considered nothing more than a baby band at the present time with Declarations of the Grand Artificer. That shouldn’t discount the band’s firm handle on this style, but it should give an indication that next time out, they’re going to have to do a lot more to get noticed.

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