The phrase “one-man black metal project” probably conjures a very distinct image in your mind, but whilst there are definitely those who pay homage to the genre’s second-wave with little priority placed on progression, there’s also a host of artists striving to bring their unique vision to life. Scotland’s Bitter Lake is certainly one of the latter, boasting an aggressive strain of blackened extremity that surprises in its ability to blend madcap distortion with frenzied blastbeats and razor-sharp shrieks so fierce they could cut through cement.
In truth, the project’s new album (featuring awesome artwork from Sludgework and a incendiary guest appearance from Kosmogyr‘s Ivan Belcic) sees it stray away from being something that could even be considered a black metal project, with its eccentric experimentation taking inspiration from punk, jazz and psychedelia in a style dubbed by its creator as “blackened freepunk” – there’s even parts taken from surf rock, ska and rap. The one-man setup ensures the release maintains its raw, biting edge, but so varied is this release that whilst aesthetic cohesion may fly out the window, it does so to be replaced by an all-out bedlam that’s simply thrilling, like taking a fairground ride with rusted brakes.
Creating the album has taken it’s toll – its creator (also a member of Cartoon Head) has claimed this release will be his last under the Bitter Lake name. As he struggled to finalise the album, its release date was pushed back, and some late-term nerves have undoubtedly set in following some social media discussion in the wake of a scathing “review” that was less insightful analysis and more of a needlessly callous hit piece.
If this truly is to be the last release then it’s a shame, as this is music that truly strives to offer something distinct and dynamic, but for now at least we can rejoice in hearing New Branches On Old Trees in full, as you can do exclusively through Astral Noize below!
New Branches On Old Trees is out 1st June. Purchase here.
Words: George Parr