Review: Awe – Providentia

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There’s an old adage about the quiet ones being those you least suspect. Awe‘s Providentia slipped into the fold late last year and managed to go largely unnoticed. This album stood and peered through the window as you sifted through your 2015 releases to make your all important year-end lists. Discreetly watching. Still. Poised, ready to strike with calculated tact. Providentia is the killer that waits for you to make first contact before taking your life.

From the first time I heard the alluring clean intro back in November last year, this album courted me, subtly coaxing me to step within its grasp. The slow, almost unassuming building of cryptic layers spans nearly the first 6 minutes. As you are drawn closer, suspicion grows that what lies behind the veil is not what it seems. Before you can escape, it’s too late. You’re in the killer’s dwelling. Pushed down the stairs into the dark underworld, in all likelihood not to see the light again.

Just as the captor seemed so meek at first, on the surface Providentia appears to be a minor affair of just 3 tracks. Even their titles are simple: “Actus Primus”, “Actus Secondus”, and “Actus Purus”. However, with a run-time of over 50 minutes of suffocating and chaotic black metal, Awe have produced anything but an insignificant frivolous romp.

Even though I did just mention this album had a somewhat suffocating atmosphere, it doesn’t come at the cost of progression or intrigue. There are moments of deviation, dissonance and innovation interspersed throughout these tracks. The guitars are cerebral and cover much of the ground that many more well-known acts do, but only when they are combined. Awe manage this alone. The bass-lines often wander off and take the composition to realms that truly place it above a mere black metal album. While they might originally seem like they’ve diverged down the path of madness, after repeated listens they begin to seem lucid and will possibly leave you questioning your own sanity.

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                                                             Gatefold image by Viral Graphics – description in Appendix

The relationship between the riffs and percussion alternates between tight cooperation and off-kilter interplay. One of the most noteworthy examples of the latter can be found at 8:35 in “Actus Secondus”, where the murderer returns to the basement and viciously assaults the victim with a variety of syncopated rhythmic attacks. The lyric matter appears to deal with the nature of not only life itself, but the entire universe from a philosophical stand-point. I’m only just beginning to scratch the surface in terms of lyrics, as I tend to immerse myself in the composition and try and absorb the music first with most albums, and believe me, there’s a lot to take in.

The closest comparison to this album I can make is something like Deathspell Omega’s Paracletus, although I feel that this album is less introspective and generally more frenetic, which suits me fine. The clean passage half-way (around 6:00) through the final track gives a moment of respite from the maelstrom, although its subtle advances are adorned in a unique sense of menace.

After being trapped in the vicinity of this killer album for over 3 months now, I have almost certainly developed a case of Stockholm syndrome. I’ve grown to enjoy the dark, crave its enigmatic presence and the routine of its beatings. I feel at home.

Providentia is killer.

4.5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell

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Appendix: The depiction of the man rolling the stone uphill includes this excerpt from Hungarian philosopher Albert Camus based on the Greek myth of Sisyphus –

“I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain. One always finds one’s burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself, forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

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  • Edward/Breegrodamus™

    Great review, great layout, great addition at the end!

    • I’ve had a hard time trying to digest The Myth of Sisyphus, I couldn’t even finish it. Still, Camus ideas of the absurd always intrigued me.

      The Plague is one of my favorite books, and treats some of the thematic of the absurd.

      Having said so, I’m delving into this greek black metal…

      • Edward/Breegrodamus™

        The absurd >>>>>>>>>

  • Dubs

    I read this article before it went live and queued this album up on the ‘Fy. Enjoying it a lot. Very spellbinding, but I think I’ll need to really dig into it.

    • Lacertilian

      While it required some patience, there was enough interest on the first few listens to give a pay-off that had me returning frequently to delve deeper.

  • Spear

    Putting this on first thing after work. Your review has me intrigued, Lizardbro.

  • Boss the Ross

    Holy shit, LizardMan! That was one of the best reviews I’ve ever read!

    And that artwork is freaking killing it!
    The Sisyphus gatefold piece caught my eye immediately. And i can get lost in that cover.

    • Dubs

      I’ve been changing out my FB cover photo with a new piece of art I enjoy every month. I might have to download that Sisyphus piece and use it next month.

      • Boss the Ross

        Nice! It really is a stunning piece.

      • The artwork reminded me a little bit of the Costin Chioraneu’s pieces made for the last At the Gates album.

        https://i.ytimg.com/vi/kEXGI97flu4/maxresdefault.jpg

        • Dubs

          Solid piece.

        • Eliza

          This art looks fantastic.

        • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

          A piece thrice as good as the album it adorns.

          • With no shame I say: “At War With Reality is one of my fav albums :(“

          • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

            I liked it too. Not great, but good. That artwork, however, is great.

    • Dagon

      I really dig art like this. Simple, yet entrancing.

    • Indeed, the art graphics is great.

    • If you stare at the art long enough, the circles will begin to move. Acid or mushrooms are required for this to manifest itself.

  • Dagon

    I already love the clean guitar tone at the beginning. And just as I typed this the distortion kicked in… I can tell I’m gonna like this.

    I read Camus years ago, The Stranger. I think I should revisit it, now that I’m at least 8 years older.

  • Never could get on the Deathspell Omega train; this definitely sounds similar. Little too much wankery for my tastes. I’m sure this will please a lot of people here though.

    • Dagon

      Is it the long build-ups?

      • Did you read my comment?

        • Dagon

          I did.

          • Ok, just making sure. The build-ups don’t bother me. It’s just too good sounding. Like I said, a lot of instrument wankery. Complexity and time signature change-ups is not my thing when it comes to black metal. Plus too clean.

          • Dagon

            Oh, gotcha. I thought it was something else. I think Paracletus is the only DO album I spent some time with and it is very clean sounding.

          • It is what it is. This will probably interest a lot of people that are not necessary into black metal.

          • Guacamole Jim

            Bingo, man. This is grabbing my johnson.

  • ULTRA RARE BLACKBEARD

    aw, shucks.

  • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

    Great review! I’m really digging this. I’m a big Deathspell Omega fan and this does sound somewhat comparable.

  • Dagon

    In January 1955, Camus wrote: “I summarized The Stranger a long time ago, with a remark I admit was highly paradoxical: ‘In our society any man who does not weep at his mother’s funeral runs the risk of being sentenced to death.’ I only meant that the hero of my book is condemned because he does not play the game.”

    • Guacamole Jim

      There’s a book that high school ruined for me. It’s taken years for me to be able to read Camus seriously after that.

      • Dagon

        Why is that? It’s not even talked about in high school here. Most of the stuff is from Brazilian or Portuguese authors, which can be very good.

        • Guacamole Jim

          We had to read it and interpret it, but I’d never heard of existentialism or nihilism at that point, and I don’t think our teacher had either (if he did, he didn’t explain it). So I was trying to understand a really complex book with centuries of philosophical thought behind it without knowing at all the author’s point. At 16, in that context, I thought it was moronic.

          • Dagon

            The book is so short that most of its effects take place “behind the scenes” after you’re done, not during reading. That’s the same reason why I feel like I should revisit it.

          • Guacamole Jim

            Absolutely. The fact that it’s stuck with me for this long, and that my perspective on it has shifted so drastically, tells me there was more to it than I was getting at the time. Let’s start a book club!

          • Dubs

            We had a metal book club once.

          • Boss the Ross

            We did?

          • Dubs

            Sort of. Masterlord, Stocky, and I wrote a post about Tolkein we called the metal book club. We had intended to continue it with House of Leaves, but Stocky never pulled the trigger, and I hate him for it.

          • Boss the Ross

            Oh, man. We should bring that back.

          • Blame Stocky.

          • Boss the Ross

            I do.

          • I suck at book clubs.

            I can’t express very good my analysis and I read at a very slow pace.

          • Dagon

            I read too quickly for my own good.

          • Doctors Dagons do that.

  • These tunes are tunes that I would call “good tunes”.

    Your recs are always my favorite Lizardbro.

    Can we kiss?

    Plz rspnd,

    GL

    • Lacertilian

      I’m happily married

  • The Deathspell Omega comparison didn’t distracted me to check this, Lizard. I don’t like that band.

    This is a killer review, man. You totally convinced me to check out this album, the production is excellent and the twists in the bass add a whole new dimension into the tunes.

    This is the kind of black metal that gets enhanced with the lyrics and concept references. It’s both rad and interesting at the same time. Good job and thanks for the recommendation.

  • Dubs

    I think the Lizard writes some of our best reviews.

  • This is really good. I’m not a fan of the song length, but it’s too good for that to be a deciding factor. Great writeup reptile.

    • Lacertilian

      I think that was definitely a bold move by the band but once it hooks you, it ends up being something you pretty much have to enjoy in full.

  • once you develop Stockhausen syndrome, it’s hard to escape it

    • Dubs

      Oh dang. Might need to buy then. Been trying to find Summum on CD. Will probably just have to pull the trigger on vinyl.

      • Yeah, I have not seen the CD version of that Summum. I’ll let you know if I see it. But yes, I may have to pull the trigger on this album for sure. Classic!

  • Treebeard, Father of Fangorn

    These songs are appropriate for an ent.

    • Dubs

      Not hasty?

    • Boss the Ross

      That is very high praise, great one.

  • Eliza

    This music is downright beautiful!

  • Heliocrat

    Small correction: Camus is French

  • Waynecro

    Outstanding review, man. And you get all the cool points for providing that killer Camus quote. Everyone should read The Myth of Sisyphus at least once.

    • Lacertilian

      That text quote was what Awe had attached to the picture they uploaded.

      • Waynecro

        Thank you for including it here.

        • Lacertilian

          My appendices are but a fraction of the depth Dubs brings to his work. Not having an indoor job is a hindrance.

          • Waynecro

            You do outstanding work, Lacertilian. Thank you, and please keep it up!

  • Heliocrat

    I love this. Great stuff. I can see the DsO comparison, but only faintly.
    Good review.

    Ps: small correction, Camus is French.

    • Lacertilian

      Oops, thanks! It does say he was born in Algeria.
      Damn, not sure how I got that so wrong.
      Agree about the DsO, it is only in places. People like things to be compared to something they are familiar with though so I tried.

    • Dubs

      I actually hear more Krallice than DsO.