Rare Field Ceiling, the fifth full-length from Yellow Eyes is, in some ways, exactly what might be expected from the USBM band. Containing six tracks (as each of their albums has since 2013’s Hammer of Night), Rare Field Ceiling is Yellow Eyes at their apex; but there has been no grand change, just an on-going refinement of their core sound. The atmosphere is unsettling; the guitars discordant; and the overall effect is that this is music that wishes not so much to be heard as to be experienced. It is the kind of black metal where it feels as if the leads are barbed whips striking at your soul; the shrieked vocals the voice of some unspeakable primal emotion finally given voice. Yet the heart of Rare Field Ceiling is not some malevolent spirit, but instead one of catharsis and emotional blood-letting – of accepting painful truths and casting off comfortable falsehoods. As this might imply, Rare Field Ceiling is a difficult listen – but also a rewarding one.

The question, then, is how this differs from previous Yellow Eyes albums. Most notably, Rare Field Ceiling is more immediate than its predecessors; there is only the briefest of mood-setting introductions before opener ‘Warmth Trance Reversal’ crashes into life, and from there on there is little let-up. Even when closer ‘Maritime Flare’ begins life with its ominous chanted vocals, there is still an insistent spirit about the album that cannot be denied. It is also a more pressing album than what has gone before; even the more relatively spacious sections feel claustrophobic and anxiety-inducing rather than atmospheric. Such paradoxes and contrasts in sound and spirit ensure that Rare Field Ceiling is gripping from start to finish – and also exhausting in the best possible way. An album that demands your full attention, Rare Field Ceiling continues Yellow Eyes’ impressive run of form, and further demonstrates that they are one of underground black metal’s most consistent acts.

Rare Field Ceiling is out 28th June via Gilead Media and can be purchased here.

Words: Stuart Wain

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