One of the things unique to black metal amongst all of the sub-genres is the prevalence of the solo act. While death metal, thrash and doom all seem to hold the idea of the band with its duelling guitars and “last gang in town” ethos as sacrosanct, black metal has provided an environment where the lone musician can craft deeply personal works without fans questioning their authenticity. Indeed from Bathory to Xasthur, the auteur style of black metal has produced some of the subgenre’s most critically acclaimed works.
Fryketlig Støy (aka Australian multi-instrumentalist Em Støy) looks set to join those ranks of acclaimed loners with the release of her blistering debut, Disappointment. A bleak and evocative work that combines the iciness of atmospheric black metal with the melodic scope of post metal, Disappointment is a bleak confrontation of violence and betrayal, told through famous female muses to tell a tale of defiance and survivorship.
Opening track ‘Philomela’ goes back to the start of this idea by taking its name from the figure from Greek mythology. A slow-building chant and repetitive riff creates a sense of menace that sets the album up for the first track proper ‘Hope’, which drops straight into second-wave black metal territory before segueing into some eerie doom riffage. Støy’s vocals are a thing of dark beauty here, mixing traditional blackened screeching with something similar to SWANS’ Jarboe at her most extreme. The palpable sense of scorn and anger at the betrayal is palpable, yet defiance is never far beneath. ‘Cassandra’ is a bleak, grinding slab of noise which takes the inspiration of the mythological Greek princess who could predict the future but was cursed to not be believed to tell a much more contemporary story.
The idea of using mythological or historical violence to highlight the dark reality of the modern world is hardly a new idea, but by drawing on different musical styles in her songs, Støy brings a greater depth of emotion to a well-known trope. On ‘Joan’ (a tribute to the maiden of Orleans) blackened speed metal helps communicate the rage at being betrayed by Church and crown, while on ‘Boudica’ she incorporates Siouxsie and the Banshees-style goth textures to emphasise the sorrow inherent in her story of thwarted defiance. The album ends with ‘Magdalene’, an eerie piano ballad with whispered vocals, it may be a more sonically restrained end to the album but it still packs an emotional punch.
With this stunning debut Fryketlig Støy establishes herself as a heavy music songwriter with both talent and emotional insight. One that sits firmly in black metal territory, but is also unafraid of breaking genre constraints for the benefit of the song. If this is her just getting started then we can’t wait to hear what comes next.
Disappointment is out now via Bandcamp and can be ordered here.
Words: Dan Cadwallader