I Shalt Become – Louisiana Voodoo (Inspired Hate Records)

Sunday, 9th February 2014
Rating: 8.5/10

I Shalt Become, the rather enigmatic American black metal project of multi-instrumentalist S. Holliman, has released its sixth album in Louisiana Voodoo, since the debut full-length, and kvltishly revered Wanderings came about in 1998.  The Illinois musician is for the first time joined by another person on an I Shalt Become album, in drummer Andrew J. Sherer (VELNIAS).  The result is an hour of some of the most interesting sounding black metal to come out of anywhere.

In an attempt to describe the sound, I’d say that Louisiana Voodoo is a work of ambient, orchestral, depressive, avant-garde black metal that is unique, strange and possibly important.  It is no doubt one of the more odd journeys into black metal that I have found myself in, and feels almost like strange noire photography…a bizarre sepia tone funeral portrait.

Experimental and subdued, Louisiana Voodoo can seethe in the background of your world, while casting an unforgettable shadow of unease and murky darkness across your vision.  Practically gentle in its feel, the music, a dingy curtain of orchestration and washed out rhythm spiced with electronic oddity and distorted guitar dissonance is a silk tie that strangles, not a hammer that bludgeons.  Decidedly a slow-moving work (no fast or blast here,) the album meanders in an airy and darkly emotive manner.   The real centerpiece to the music is the somewhat jubilant piano and strings, set against Attila Csihar-esque vocals and drums, it is almost juxtaposed to the more sinister sounding guitar and keyboard work.

Over several listens of this album, I’m recalling the fluttering orchestration of “Drowning”, the pitter-pat of piano emulating the rain on “Rain,” the urgent strings in “Riot,” the Halloween (movie) vibe on “Braquemard,” and the almost Depeche Mode quality to the electronics on the 20-minute “The Rats in the Walls.”  Louisiana Voodoo is definitely a moody piece, perhaps one of the biggest challenges lies in trying to figure out the precise mood it’s giving off.   Whatever that may be, this is a work of great creativity and an impressive album, albeit one for the discerning listener.

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