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Superstatic : Glimmering Veil

The sophomore from Death/Doom band Superstatic is a complex, lengthy journey into crushingly bleak sci-fi/horror inspired territories.

Man, it's easy to get rusty when it comes to music, and these pandemic years have been tough in a lot of ways, for a lot of different people. For me, that means this is the first time I've even tried to write a review in 2021, and there's a bit of dusting-off to do to get back into that. Maybe Superstatic is a good place to start - there's a band that has followed the Grateful Dead credo of 'What A Long Strange Trip It's Been'. Originally starting out with Black Metal projects Rakoth and Umbral Presence in Obninsk, near Moscow, during the late 1990s, multi-instrumentalist Rustam (or Noctilius, take your pick) ended up as bassist in Dublin-based Celtic Metal band Cruachan, whilst overlapping that with the formation of Death/Doom project Superstatic (taking their name from the first Rakoth full-length), under the name of Alex. Debut album 'Key To The Abyss' followed as a semi-independent release in 2018, sophomore 'Glimmering Veil' is today's Solitude release.

At first glance of the EPK, it's a bit of a mixed bag that draws inspiration from everything from "golden age" sci-fi to contemporary horror literature to modern computer games, and that does rather show through on early listening. The press release suggests it leans more towards Funeral Doom, but I'd dispute that - it's basically far too uptempo, and with too many interjections and ornamentations to come very close to a Funeral aesthetic. This is fairly old-school Death/Doom all the way, and none the worse for being simply described as such, in musical terms. And, despite some superficial correlation between the source influences, it's also fairly old-school in presenting a collection of songs rather than an obviously conceptual theme.

With tracks ranging from 8 to 17 minutes, it's also a bit of a big beast, both in duration and sound, with plenty of heft and crunchiness to the largely guitar-led compositions. Each of those tends to cover a lot of ground, too, with plenty of momentum shifts, and places where each of the other instruments - drums, bass, keyboards - come to the forefront. The guitars may take overall honours in sliding from massive riffs to soaring leads, taking in all sorts of knifing distortion and oddly delicate moments, as they drive proceedings. However, they're closely matched by the way the male vocals range from rasping whispers to almost-chanting to rough-edged semi-growls, with a featured female voice adorning the tracks 'Edge' and 'The Rose Garden'. Elsewhere, indistinct spot effects, samples or quirky instrumental textures lurk in the background, adding some dark atmospheric feeling; that, coupled with the various and quite diverse keyboard voices used, even conjures something of an Abysmal Grief feeling in places - though, taken as a whole, 'Glimmering Veil' is more an aggressive and brutal sci-fi Doom venture than horror-movie creepy soundtrack. It's cold, hard-edged, relentless and discomforting territory, laid out and perhaps even typified by the opening track, taken from Harlan Ellison's grimly hopeless short story of the dystopian cruelty inflicted on the last few surviving humans.

To me, that cuts a little bit both ways. Individually, there's nothing you could really point to as being wrong with any of the tracks: they're well-crafted, well-executed, and there are some very engaging, inventive elements - as with the eerie rumbling bass section in 'House Dagoth', to pick just one example - scattered through the many changes of direction and tempo. However, that mix of busy complexity and quite crushing heaviness pervading the album does make it a bit of an endurance test to sit through all 70+ minutes without it becoming a little oppressively 'samey' in texture, if not in detail.

That's my only complaint, though. As a collection of intelligent, compelling, and stormy Death/Doom narratives, these stand up very well indeed, but they're perhaps best taken in more digestible chunks than as a single monolithic slab if you want to really concentrate and follow their twists and turns. It's an album I'd file alongside something like 'Exulansis' by Somnus Aeternus: difficult but rewarding, successfully capturing and articulating the motifs of both its sci-fi source inspirations and musical direction, deliberately unsettling and uncomfortable in what it chooses to explore. All of those, clearly, are good things to have in a Doom context, but when they're presented with this level of size and intensity, you really need to be in the right mood and braced for the impact to properly appreciate them.

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Reviewer's rating: 8/10


Tracklist :
1. I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream
2. Mutabor
3. House Dagoth
4. Edge
5. I Am The Doorway
6. The Rose Garden
7. Remember Citadel

Duration : Approx. 72 minutes

Visit the Superstatic bandpage.

Reviewed on 2021-10-15 by Mike Liassides
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