Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mitochondrion—Parasignosis (Profound Lore)

Listening to this album is a hellish experience. That’s not a critique; that’s just how it is. Parasignosis is grim, oppressive, and gruelling, a torture chamber in which twisting tendrils of death metal slither, entwine and ultimately suffocate whatever sensibility you had when you entered. You’re compelled to explore this black pit of sonic horror just in case a sliver of light finds its way in, giving you a glimpse of its terrible mystery.

Victoria’s Mitochondrion are furthering the distance between metal and rock 'n' roll, extending the line drawn by Hellhammer’s primitive expulsions, Incantation’s abstract death metal, and Gorguts’ fractalized dischord. Every element seems designed to confuse. Riffs—so many relentless riffs—coagulate and break off, overlap, and mutate. Songs merge to form time-dilating expanses. Cyclic song structures are mostly absent, giving us few cues with which to orient ourselves. The production smothers details—vocals are subterranean gurgles, and reverb blurs any fine lines that might have existed. It’s a triumph of atmosphere over clarity, yet it works for their style.

However much Mitochondrion revel in metal’s inversion of values, there are genuinely outstanding elements to celebrate. The drumming, full of militant beats and blasting, has advanced quite a bit from their first album. K. Godard’s use of the entire kit is particularly striking; skittering under, over, and between the guitars. The packaging is a masterpiece of cryptic writing and symbolism. I know not what it all means, but it, like the music, is clearly the product of advanced thought and dedication. Having released this daunting work, it’s intriguing to consider where they might go next. If there’s a more depraved, extreme form of metal that lies beyond Parasignosis, then I’m sure Mitochondrion will be the band to find it.

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