NONE – Damp Chill of Life (Hypnotic Dirge Records)Sunday, 7th April 2019
Another April is upon us and with it comes a new NONE release. Maybe it’s tied to a date of meaning for one of the anonymous members of the band and maybe it’s a reflection of the fact that at this point in April winter is still very present in more northern areas. Whatever the case Damp Chill of Life continues to see the band grow, this time with more focus than ever on the quieter aspects of its sound. There’s a distinct sense of pending finality the proceedings in Damp Chill Of Life so approach with caution.
So what of content? If you’re familiar with the self-titled debut and last year’s Life Has Gone On Long Enough the common language continues here: a harshly despondent take on depressive black metal with a lot of emphasis on atmosphere. Though hardly a ‘single’ in the traditional sense, the title track “The Damp Chill of Life” was released in advance of the album and serves as both its longest work and a solid indication of what you will find beyond it. It takes its time to build up, crawling from frozen crag to frozen crag toward some unknowable destination, not at all dissimilar from the now expected dismal Pacific Northwest winter shot that adorns the album cover. The drums are appreciably more false sounding this time around (though whether a drum machine or not is irrelevant) and are more prevalent in the mix. Guitar similarly is louder and hollower, and vocals remain buried.
Atmosphere through use of synth, whether at the forefront or as an enveloping force, is nothing new for the band and if anything feels more prevalent here. “Cease” is dominated in its beginning by this and its follow up “You Did A Good Thing” is a hollowed-out heartbeat during the worst day of your life that most would rather not see more than once, if at all. The use of the verb crawling earlier was not an accident. When distortion and pained vocals do return, they’re doing so with a pronounced and labored agony. It’s here again the drums are the most surprising element, a distant whisper driving on a body that has otherwise completely given out. A sense of possession and it is strangely visceral.
That sense of finality. Nothing in NONE’s repertoire so far carries with it a sense of things improving. If Life Has Gone On Long Enough was the sound of the downward spiral then Damp Chill of Life feels like the point of burnout and the void beyond. There’s a stillness that dominates here that the previous works only touched on: it’s suffocating. Or maybe it’s the quiet after the suffocation. Whatever awaits in that void is found in the middle of “A Chance I’d Never Have” and as with any encounter with abject terror the silence that follows is deafening.
I suppose we’ll know what was found when NONE graces us again.