Mysterious Toronto black metallers Thantifaxath turn the genre inside out on Sacred White Noise, their first full-length. The hooded trio uses the bleak nature of searing black metal as a scaffold to sculpt an abstract representation of their own twisted manifesto.
Through six tracks and nearly 45 minutes Thantifaxath navigate a series of stacked realities riddled with holes through which they fall as space gyrates and shifts. They leave a trail behind them and probe ahead so that the transitions between states feel natural and fluid despite their abruptness. The listener is unwittingly tethered to the album’s path and can only hope to emerge at its conclusion in a sound state.
The stage is set with “The Bright White Nothing at the End of the Tunnel.” Mind-bending fretwork sees notes glisten like dew on a spiderweb lit by a phosphorescent subterranean glow. Scorching runs and more tangible rhythms intertwine with sickened screams emanating from the shadows. It’s not at all straightforward and lays the foundation for the following multi-leveled madness.
A synth-laden moonlit sky hovers over dancing tremolos to burst into a warped sun. Thantifaxath descend, escaping the light to carve a path through the obsidian darkness. Haunting, atmospheric chants cool the blood. “Traditional” black metal skitters on tangents above the plane of convention. And all manner of mood shifts comprise the album’s front half.
A quiet ambience, violins and a bare soul bring the listener back to centre on “Eternally Falling” before guitars ascend into the majestic, cold and visceral “Panic Becomes Despair.” The impact of the tempo changes are harsh but welcome, drawing pleasure from the bruised psyche.
On closer “Lost in Static Between Worlds” — as on much of Sacred White Noise – there’s a back and forth between power and melody. It’s not easy to comprehend and given the right environment could even prove stressful. The song’s midpoint let the nerves settle after the charging pummel they’ve been subject to.
Painful melodies run deep as anguished screams inflict despair and a compelling insanity surrounds the whole. Sacred White Noise is far from static as its artful nature, perverse technicality and deep emotional connection create and destroy the sonic landscape in turn. It’s lush, frigid and writhing beneath its own skin. Expansive, deep and pestilential, Sacred White Noise is an unexpected pleasure begging to be explored.