It can be easy to look at a band and think your first impression is going to be the correct one. English black metal, kind of atmospheric but with a vicious edge? You’ll read that and probably expect Antre to sound like so much English black metal did 10 years ago, when much of the metal press was heralding the arrival of English Heritage Black Metal. Yet thankfully, such a first impression would be wrong. Antre are far removed from that scene, both in sound and attitude, and Dark Spectrum is the best record they have put out to date.
With members having prior experience from a host of bands and genres, Antre’s sound is one that’s both familiar but difficult to pin down exactly. There’s a foundation of atmospheric black metal for sure; but the aggression goes beyond just being an edge into being something fundamental and prominent instead, taking the band outside the realm of what’s usually considered within the subgenre. Whilst atmospheric black metal can sometimes fade into the background, Dark Spectrum is far too driven to do such a thing – the speed and sheer savagery it puts across mean it demands attention. Hell, there’s even a moment in second track ‘Become the Damned’ which pinches that melody from Gustav Holst’s Mars, the Bringer of War, which should give you an indication of the scale and ambition Antre are operating with here.
Not that Dark Spectrum is a one-note onslaught of savagery. Antre clearly understand the importance of contrast and musical texture, with moments of relatively restrained build-up or climatic release littered throughout. The spoken word passage mid-way through ‘Mask of the Saviour’ is a prime example, not just of Antre’s grasp of dynamics, but also of the emotional, human aspect that characterises Dark Spectrum.
And it’s this which really makes the EP so notable. Much like fellow English underground warriors Wode, with whom they share some sonic similarities, there’s a human undercurrent to Antre’s black metal which gives it an extra sense of character and personality. It improves on practically every aspect of their debut album, and suggests that Antre are on the verge of something rather special indeed.
Dark Spectrum is out on 15th January and can be ordered here.
Words: Stuart Wain