Calligram’s latest record may well be in the offing for the best black metal record of the year. The multinational quintet (UK, Italy, France, and Brazil) have lurked in the shadows since 2011 and gradually gained recognition in the UK scene. This record is stronger than The Eye Is the First Circle, more incendiary in its approach; it tries to obliterate your ear drums and eviscerate your soul. They do not just switch between the well-trodden paths of black metal and hardcore, rather they collide them to make a unique sound all their own where visceral ferocity intertwines seamlessly with raw aggression.
Matteo Rizzardo delivers abrasive blackened vocals in Italian, but the sheer tormented emotion of a tired and broken soul looking to purge demons is going to be evocative in any language. That is at least how the album comes across to this reviewer – an exorcism of anguish and suffering, portrayed in a mostly relentless stream of brutal attacks, punctured by moments of hope and triumph. Rather than speaking as an attacking beast, the voice is of a victim who has chosen to fight back. Rizzardo himself describes the music as ‘a caustic celebration of pain, death and chaos’ and given the common theme of catharsis and existential dread these days it is indeed important to focus on the light that must exist where there is darkness.
‘Sul Dolore’ is an abrasive explosion from the very first dissonant note of eerie tremolos, lightning-fast blast beats that morph into a punky style. A pulsing rhythm pushes the music on through a lethargic slog, complete with shimmering dual guitars and a slow heavy beat. Rizzardo’s emotionally charged snarls are frostbitten, fast, and unhinged – then, almost muttered under his breath, drawn out and formidable before picking up the pace once again. Earnestly holding the listener in a cold and vice-like grip, before casting them aside for both to recover. Continuing in the same vein but with even more blackened riffs and galloping drums, ‘Frantumi in Initere’ veers into ascending crescendos of progressive pentatonic scales that suggest moments of uninhibited joy in the madness. Sombre and thoughtfully picked notes, thunderous slow drums and a formidable low rumbling bass line round out this cut. There are many details strewn throughout and then suddenly what sounds like a beautiful cello behind the fading, tiring, vocals. Where another break is taken to summon the strength for another battle, depicted by poignant notes that ring out over the cello sound. A vengeful return pushes forward in ‘Tebe’ in the form of accelerated punky d-beats and the slightly hackneyed phrase “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” – nonetheless effective.
Single ‘Ostranenie’ is a hurricane of blast beats which start out in the background but increase intensity as the other instruments kick in. A more upbeat but off-key twangy guitar and fun, punkier this time d beats change the whole vibe yet still contrast with the barrage of howls. The jarring addition of funereal bell-like tones and more solemn trumpet brings the listener back to reality. Ever increasing in speed surging forward with a renewed energy is “Ex-Sistere” leading to the concluding track. ‘Seminario Dieci’ takes an almost ethereal, calm post metal turn where each instrument shines with playfully interspersed textured nuances that haven’t been present in the din till now. Though calm, there is still a feeling or great loss and enhanced by low growls changing the dynamic once again for the final maelstrom. After such a riotous ascension of sound, the album ends abruptly, leaving us wanting more.
Position/Momentum is out now via Prosthetic Records and can be ordered here.
Words: Abi Coulson