Mystique and anonymity have been a big part of the appeal of underground music since the 1980s. When the international tape-trading scene kicked off metal fans were suddenly being exposed to bands with obscure names that made terrifying music, but had literally zero other information on them aside from the odd ‘zine article. This led to dozens of apocryphal biographies cropping up, and the more extreme end of the scene began to take on an almost mythical quality due to the lack of any concrete information about the bands. The second wave of black metal went so far as to integrate this whole idea into their aesthetic, using demonic pseudonyms and putting out intentionally oblique (to the point of being utter bullshit sometimes) statements via their labels.
Since the advent of the internet it’s become nearly impossible to generate any kind of genuine mystery around a band or artist. It’s hard to believe even the most hardened of occult/satanic metal musician is a genuine force of evil when they’re putting up pictures of their cat on their Instagram account (this is not necessarily a bad thing, who doesn’t love cats). However, there are a few artists who are determined to add a bit of mystery back into the music.
One such artist is Entropy Created Consciousness, a one-person blackened doom project who reveals literally nothing about themselves, intending instead for their music to stand on its own merits as art. There are no press shots, disguised or otherwise, from which to try and glean any information from. Instead the band’s visuals comprise of a set of artworks inspired by Dante’s Inferno, the theme of this second album, Antica Memoria Di Dis.
The album is split into two EPs, Acheron & Lethe, with the combined album telling the story of Dante’s journey into Hell in the company of the ancient Roman poet, Virgil. Musically the act mixes doom & black metal with synthy prog elements and even strains of goth, creating a sound that is appropriately widescreen for its epic subject matter. In keeping with the project’s theme of obscuring its creators, the vocals are a black metal screech buried under layers of treated noise as to be borderline undecipherable.
For all its high-minded ideas, the only question that really matter is this: are Entropy Created Consciousness any good? Gratifyingly the answer is a convincing yes. Their take on blackened doom is expertly crafted, especially on tracks like the epic ‘Minos/Cerberus’ and the comparatively blistering ‘Malebolga’. The album uses thick, droning riffs to act like murky soundscapes through which glimpses of Dante’s journey can be seen, bringing together narrative allusion, sonic immanence and illustrative awe.
All in all, this is an album that just about manages to make good on its lofty ambitions. It’s a doom metal mood piece, wreathed in mystery and defying attempts to ground it in the day-to-day. Music with a genuine aura in 2020 – who’da thunk it?
Words: Dan Cadwallader