From an English-speaker’s perspective, Buioingola is a funny name. It sounds a bit like a brain disorder one might develop from listening to too much Oingo Boingo while hanging out with Buhguul from the inferior Sinister horror franchise. And it’s not an easy name to type either; I shall struggle with it throughout this review. But know this, dear reader: The music of Buioingola is dead serious and emotionally harrowing and–spoiler alert–is worthy of greater than three Flaming Toilets ov Hell.
Story Time*: I was working late one night at the central offices of the Toilet ov Hell, just processing invoices (read: biting my fingernails and staring at the wall) when a hooded figure materialized at the entrance to my office (which is totally not a cubicle). Was it Death? No–too short, no scythe. It was a courier, dripping wet after riding a bike through the rain (it was raining outside) to deliver a package. A small human hand reached up to peel back the hood, revealing the face of a human woman. I fixed her with a rictus of disinterest, kind of hoping she would go away (I had, like, three more nails left to bite). In defiance of my wishes, she stepped forward and placed the package on my desk.
“What’s in the box?” I asked.
“I heard you like weird shit,” she said, shivering.
“Well, I think you’re looking for W. His office is down the hall.”
“But he’s not here,” she said. “No one is. Just you.”
“Okay but what the fuck is in the box?”
She peered at me as if my question were a non sequitur and said: “I rode here in the rain.”
“Okay,” I repeated, “but what-the-fuck-is-in-the-fucking-box?”
Startled by the shrill edge of panic in my voice, she opened the box, revealing neither anthrax nor an explosive device nor Anthrax, but instead a download code for Il Nuovo Mare, the new album by Italian everything-bagel-metal** band Buioingola. I stared at the code for much longer than necessary, as if the randomly generated sequence of numbers and letters were a cosmic message of some kind. When at last I looked up, the woman was gone; the dark spots where she’d dripped water all over the carpet seemed to suggest I had not hallucinated her. So, with a crack of the knuckles and a sip from my thermos full of fine Icelandic vodka, I entered the code into my downloading machine and bashed the keyboard with my fist until music came out of it.
The immediacy with which opening number “Polvere” attacks is offputting. It’s a bit like being accosted from behind on a dark street during an evening stroll. Buioingola are not interested in easing us into their nightmare world of blackened-industrialized-NeurIsis-core. But they are also not interested in crushing us all at once, so that while “Polvere” wastes no time with introductory niceties, it has the good sense to lead up to a proper pummeling. The first half of the song is all jangling guitars and stuttering drums and woebegone orations. Soon enough, the smoldering tension builds toward a devastating collapse in the form of anguished vocal sludge and frantic blastbeats. If you’re not paying close attention, you won’t even notice that “Polvere” has ended and “Latenza” has begun. It’s a subtle transition: “Latenza” takes off at the same tempo and intensity with which “Polvere” ends. And here we get the first overt taste of Buioingola’s industrial side, with supplemental electronic percussion layered over the live drums, pelting us with trashcan lids and tire irons and sundry nuts and bolts. Here Buioingola also reveals their indebtedness to the maladjusted side of post-punk, channeling the oddly danceable miserablism of its pioneers into a modernized haze of pedal-treated tremolo picking. And like many of the tracks across the album, “Latenza’s” noisy chaos drops toward a nadir of weary quietude before the bombast redoubles.
Sixth track “Silenzio” is perhaps the best cross-section of everything that makes Buioingola so formidable. Its attack is immediate; it winds and wends organically through various dark and violent textures; it fades out at last into one of the most tragically gorgeous movements of ambient music I have ever heard. Throughout all this, and above it as well, the song is memorable. Why? Because it makes novel use of genre blurring? Because its structure is unique and unpredictable? Well, yes–but no. “Silenzio” is ultimately memorable because Buioingola are deft at creating simple, solid melodic motifs and threading them through a multifaceted composition, transposing or transmogrifying these themes with all the subtlety and grace of master sculptors. The imprint of this mastery can be felt on pretty much every other song on Il Nuovo Mare.
Special kudos to Buioingola for introducing an instrumental mood piece, “Attesa”, into the album without disrupting the flow. Some people love a nice mid-album instrumental. I usually do not. But this one is a gripping slice of sci-fi doom, tense and sad and beautiful, reminiscent of the best cinematic work of John Murphy (Sunshine, 28 Days Later).
And with that, special anti-kudos to Buioingola for ending Il Nuovo Mare on a bit of a flat note. Closer “Il giorno dopo” is fatigue incarnate, a chilled-out comedown which may have served the album better as a stopgap between more raging numbers. I would have preferred this thing to go out with a bang, or with the kind of hope-sucking decrescendo which pulls the plug on “Silenzio”. Instead “Il giorno dopo” drains itself and the listener of all feeling, until all that remains is a blind, dragging numbness. (Eh, now that I type that it doesn’t sound so bad.) Anyway, my only other negative criticism of this album is that at times the attack of the drums is a tad weak, as if their production were geared more toward a full-on post-punk album than a metal one.
There are a lot of moving parts to Il Nuovo Mare. Each song draws from a wide genre pool. The true marvel is that they do so without sounding like a grating collage of disparate styles, and without betraying any clear point of influence. Sure, I could throw around broad reference points like Godflesh or Killing Joke or the aforementioned NeurIsis Twins–but that math doesn’t add up on paper or in the actual experience of the music. The fact is that Buioingola is darker than all of those acts combined. It is an entity unto itself: a fully realized and thoroughly morbid vision of psychological/societal collapse, distilled into musical form.***
4.5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
* This part of the review is entirely unnecessary. Sorry.
** Thanks to the esteemed Joaquin Stick for the bagel metaphor.
***It appears Buioingola has already disbanded. [sad emoji x 20985702934.0]
Il Nuovo Mare goes airborne on March 31 via Sentient Ruin Laboratories.