Review / Floating Black Prism – Under The Weight Of An Ominous Presence

When the “For Fans Of” section on a release announcement lists eight bands, all of which are in broadly different genres, my first reaction is to worry – when a band is being advertised as being for fans of musicians as diverse as ISIS, Zombi, Tombs, and John Carpenter, it’s hard to see what the common musical thread might be. Such is the case with Under the Weight of an Ominous Presence, the second EP from Floating Black Prism. Yet whilst the “For Fans Of” might be misleading, and could perhaps be better described as “influenced by”, Under the Weight… has a lot going for it, and will certainly appeal to fans of the more adventurous side of extreme metal.

That so many different influences have gone into Under the Weight… is both its biggest strength and weakness. Over the course of these five tracks, Floating Black Prism demonstrate a wide range of musical textures and moods, all working from a starting point of progressive black metal but unafraid to lean hard into the progressive side of that descriptor. There’s tasteful synths, influenced by the aforementioned Zombi and John Carpenter; bulldozing sections with a hint of atonality that recall Tombs; extended instrumental sections that pull from post-rock; and even an instrumental track that’s situated somewhere between Boris, This Will Destroy You, and later-day Deftones.

If that all makes it sound like Under the Weight… can be a lot to take in, then you’d be right. Yet even though it’s a deep record that rewards repeat listens, there’s an immediate appeal just from the sheer variety of sounds and emotions on offer. It feels far longer than its 23-minute duration, in the best possible way. This also feeds into one other slight issue; it’s hard not to feel that Under the Weight… would be much more successful were it that bit longer. With so many ideas on show, it can be hard for them all to get the attention they deserve. But then, if an EP leaves the listener longing for a full-length, then it’s safe to say it’s done pretty much what it set out to do, and as such, Under the Weight… can be considered a success. If Floating Black Prism can maintain this level of quality over an album, it’ll be something very special indeed.

Under the Weight of an Ominous Presence is out now via Trepanation Recordings and can be ordered here.

Words: Stuart Wain

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