Review: Skáphe – Skáphe²… Skáphe Harder

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Are Abyssal too accessible? Svartidauđi too upbeat? Deathspell Omega too mainstream? Try Skáphe.

The mysterious (now) two-piece esoteric black metal band Skáphe return to bring you another soundtrack to your nightmares. I was first alerted to this outfit through this humble porcelain bowl and spent a great deal of time delving into the first album released in 2014. The chilling motifs seemingly devoid of traditional riffing were a perplexing conglomerate of sound, equal parts demented and psychedelic. On their latest release, Skáphe², things are much the same, except the overall impression is of a more coordinated affair. The extremes are somehow more disparate.

The mystery isn’t merely confined to their music either, with the man solely responsible for the original release (Alex Poole) combining with D.G. (of Misþyrming and Nađra acclaim) taking care of the anguish-soaked vocals on the new album. I say mystery because it isn’t made fully clear if Alex has handled all the instrumentation on this release as well. Regardless of the personnel details, the compositional details are quite intricate and are laid out for all to hear. That is, provided you have the ear to penetrate the amorphous contorting vibrational front, without being swept away in its miasmatic haze forever.

Sometimes dense, sometimes sparse, the tracks are confounding at first, at second and every other damn listen you take. That’s part of the beauty, a beauty that’s hard to deny. Like a piece of abstract art, it is bound to put some people off immediately. Some won’t understand its appeal, which is fair. To others, however, it will rouse a strong interest to further investigate. In fact, I think the analogy of a painter is quite apt. Skáphe have painted using a unique sonic palette for us to observe.

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Skáphe²

Similar to their striking album covers, the band uses but two colours, red and black. The black is obvious. The dark, aggressive and asphyxiating roles. The red can be seen as the counterpoint. The calm. The spaces where thoughts echo within a mind. The negative space that makes the dark that much darker, the black contrast. Much can be done with just two colours, depending on the brush strokes. Skáphe utilise a variety of techniques. Sometimes hastily spreading with anxiety, seemingly at random. Other times, the brush is deeply pressed into the canvas then slowly dragged across the medium with a certain amount of weight, behind the weight is almost certainly pain. The final picture as afflicted as it is abstruse.

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Compared to the first album, Skáphe² has a more refined production aesthetic which allows for a more immersive experience. The guitars breathe, and the percussion pulses. When combined with the vocals, the entire record seethes. While it would be practically futile to compare Skáphe to the majority of common acts, I will try to make some associations. Some of the cleaner guitar tones remind me of those used to great effect by Aosoth, albeit with more of a reverb-laden psychoactive-induced slant. The faster sections bring to mind the recent releases from Awe and Devouring Star. If you’re interested in those bands, or just have an inclination for bands who possess an avant-garde and often perplexing approach to crafting psychotropic black metal, try Skáphe².


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  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    They should have called it Skaphe 2: Electric Boogaloo.

  • Killer write-up Lizard-Bro, glad to see this project getting some recognition. I’m still partial to the demo, but goddamn is this album a dismal mind-fukk (Still digesting the album). So goddamn good! That bass guitar is something else too on this record; it’s really prominent. I’d be also very curious to see how they pull this material off live. Seems like it would be difficult to do, but maybe not.

    http://i.imgur.com/UTRsDkx.jpg

      • Dayum. That’s a nice one.

      • COAL ROLL

        what’s your take on the sound quality of these translucent colored records compared to black? my main turntable is a Onkyo CP-1150f with an Acutex 320II STR cartridge that I run through a Sony STR series receiver and then through a combo of some older Radian Research speakers and a pair of yamaha PA spkrs with 15′ woofers. Pic discs don’t sound that great. I only have a few translucent rekkids, and they seem to be OK. The blacks always sound great. I’ve shied away from buying some because I’m unsure of the sound quality.

        • Picture discs are trash

          • Boss the Ross

            They look cool though!

          • Yeah, I have a Repulsion “Horrified” and Abhorer “Zygotical Sabbatory Anabapt” picture discs that I have hanging on the wall.

          • Boss the Ross

            I have a Judas Priest “best of” with the Screaming for Vengeance cover. Looks awesome.

          • Bad-fucking-ass Boss!

          • Boss the Ross

            I picked it up at a half price years ago. It has the band on the back as well.

          • Owlswald

            Does it affect the sound in any way? EDIT: See Coal’s post above.

          • Picture Discs? If so than yes. Total shit sound. Not good for your needle either.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Just good for show, nothing more.

          • COAL ROLL

            I bought Rust in Peace Pic Disc just because Rust in Peace. If you have ever listened to Appetite for Dest loud, it sounds super sloppy just like that album does

          • COAL ROLL

            I shall start calling the one I have thrash-trash

        • Yeah, Joe nailed the picture disc sound quality. They are nice for hanging on the wall though.

          I’ve never had issues with translucent or colored vinyl though. I try and stay away from the super elaborate tie dye patterns and such. Black vinyl is the best.

        • sweetooth0

          I find the translucent color ones to sound better than the opaque colored ones, and I don’t really notice much difference between the translucent color and black, but black probably is the safest bet for sound quality. Picture Discs are always gonna sound like shit due to the increased noise floor (even my “good” picture discs would likely sound better on regular ol’ black).

          • sweetooth0

            Also, I dislike those half and half colored ones. I swear I can hear the transition between the two colors. That or I just got a defect press or somethin.

          • Boss the Ross

            You will probably hear the difference since its two seperate pucks of vinyl being pressed together. The texture of each piece will be different.

          • sweetooth0

            That was my thinking. Ended up selling that record because my CD version was a lot better.

          • sweetooth0

            Also, if you’re interested I’m listening to a vintage Yamaha YP801-BL with a Shure V15 Type III Catridge run through a kick ass little pre-amp (can’t remember the model off hand) into a Yamaha RXV1800 using a pair of customized JBL 15″ full range horn/woofer speakers.

          • I hate those. Dumb.

        • Boss the Ross

          Vinyl is translucent to start with, the black is actually a dye that is added. So translucents with a little color added is basically the same thing.

    • Owlswald

      The black metal vinyl photo table of DETH!

  • BobLoblaw

    I love how diverse this is.

  • Dubs

    Solid review and killer tunes. Hail to thee.

  • Sir Tapir The Based

    I need 2 buy this.

  • ME GORAK B.C.™
  • 365ChaosRiddenDays

    Good review, in some moments they reminds me Devouring Star indeed, this album sounds great even if It’s not an easy listening but their suffocating, dark and crushing power in the riff and drumming along with harsh vocal performance is the reason that makes them so appealing building up a chaotic wall of sound. Solid relase from start to end.

  • Hubert

    I haven’t listened to the full thing yet, but the track I heard Skaphed my butt hard.

  • Boss the Ross

    Killer review LizardManKing! I’ve only listebed to the first few tracks, but I need to give it a complete listen.

  • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

    5 flaming toilets you say?
    And the list keeps growing…

  • Celtic Frosty

    I liked their first release more *ducks*

    • Same.

      • Lacertilian

        I think I’ll need more time to judge them against each other. This one is blowing my mind right now though.

        • It’s still fucking amazing!

        • Boss the Ross

          I was able to give this a full listen earlier, it was quite the experience. I need to listen a few more times to completely digest the scope of this album, I believe. “IV” was probably my favorite this time around. Also, the bass throughout the album is really freaking good.

          And your comparison with artwork and a painter was excellent.

    • Lacertilian

      I don’t think anyone will attack you for that opinion. Their first release was killer.

  • “Svartidauđi too upbeat?”

    http://i.imgur.com/XNjpSil.gif

  • COAL ROLL

    I tried this, but it’s far to complex for my relatively traditionalist musical palette.

    • Stanley

      We stand united, bro.

    • have you ever listened to Skaphe… on vaped weed?

      • Janitor Jim Duggan

        No. Vaping weed is worse than regular vaping.

        • Stanley

          How so?

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            The people who vape can be really obnoxious about it. It is better than smoking though. My dad quit smoking by doing vaping.

          • don’t ruin this awesome image of your dad i have in my head.

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            He’s a Deadhead who hates Phish and has great taste in movies. He’s brought me to 5 Neil Young shows and 8 Bruce Springsteen shows. He hates metal though.

          • And loves politics

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            He sure does.

          • Dubs

            So you guys have common ground re: metal?

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            Technically. He hates all metal though. I only hate current metal.

          • Sir Tapir The Based

            You only like nu-metal.

          • that’s better than liming nothing at all.

          • Dubs

            Tapir’s tragic flaw is his ability to ruin potentially great take-downs with typos.

          • Sir Tapir The Based

            Ye but English ain’t my first language
            No habla espanol

          • Flyin Choo Choo Booger Muffler

            Liming? Is he burying poppers and homeless people in his backyard?

            https://confessionsofasomedaysomebody.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/672255495615691297.gif

          • Spear

            Every time you say this, a fairy dies.

          • Sir Tapir The Based

            What’s his favourite movie?

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            That’s a good question. He doesn’t have a favorite but he loves Kubrick and David Lynch.

          • like i said… awesome mental image of the guy

          • Sir Tapir The Based

            And to think that his son likes Adam Sandler movies.

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            I hate most Adam Sandler movies.

          • Sir Tapir The Based

            Liar you are.

          • I’m pretty sure I slept on the same chair/couch that Trey Anastasio once slept on in South Portland.

      • CyberneticOrganism

        *vapes*

      • Goddamn, I’d like to try that.

      • COAL ROLL

        I prefer under aspirated particulate by-products of fossil fuels.

    • Boss the Ross
      • COAL ROLL

        Sold the moment I heard the first church bell, thanks BtR

        • Boss the Ross

          Haha! Nice. No problem.
          Check out Black Tower from Unspeakable Axe as well.

          • COAL ROLL

            just bookmarked this label. the wife is going out with one of her friends tonight so I can dig deeper into this at top volume tonight

          • Boss the Ross

            There are a lot of solid releases on this label.

      • This reminds me, I need to find that Ripper album.

  • Stanley

    Does anyone know if this is a band’s logo? I just randomly got sent this pin from Seasons of Mist and have no idea what it is.

    • Stanley

      Here it is.

      • CyberneticOrganism

        WVLFFVCKER

        • Stanley

          WOLFAGRAM

          • CyberneticOrganism

            ACID WOLF SATAN WITCH

      • Hmm, sort of reminds me of Satanic Warmaster. But it’s not… Not sure duder.

        • Stanley

          I think it’s just a generic SATAN pin. I did a google image search and got nothing interesting.

      • Flyin Choo Choo Booger Muffler

        Did a quick GIS search, and closest that came up was Destroyer 666.

        • Stanley

          Thanks man. That’s probably what it is as I ordered the new album from them. Also, wolves and pentagrams.

    • Where is the logo? Just did a RFI.

      • Stanley

        I goofed.

  • Boss the Ross

    It’s quite impressive how many bands these gentlemen are actively releasing music with.

  • CyberneticOrganism
  • Eliza

    I was eager to see a review of this album here. I adore it.

  • Owlswald

    Fallen Empire Records is in Portland? No shit..

  • Lizard, I loved that you commented on the cover art and how engaged is the concept to the music itself and the aesthetic.

    Great review, but this is 2spooky4me

    • good soundtrack 4 romance tho…

    • Lacertilian

      I thought some of you with more pronounced synesthesia might enjoy the comparison. Thanks Link.

  • Flyin Choo Choo Booger Muffler

    Goatdayum, this is cavernous as fuck! The instruments are all up and center, but the singer sounds like he’s singing after being buried under an avalanche in the back of the cave (always a good thing). Definitely some good stuff going on here.

  • Waynecro

    Great review, man. Thanks!

  • Dagon

    5/5? Fuck. I guess I’m gonna have to find the time to listen to this.

    • Lacertilian

      Once you’re comfortable on say your sixth autopsy, this will make great zone-out music for headphones .

      • Dagon

        No headphones allowed at the cutting board.

  • PabloEsko

    I personally think this is overrated and they repeat some elements too much that it gets pretty monotonous at times.. i give it 65 % for at least bringing new vocals to the table. if you consider that the second track is basically same as the first one and the fourth has riffs of The Obelisk Gleam theres not much new. of course i appreciate death metal-driven III and the best track on the album V, but they released that already before, so there wasnt much surprising even after multiple listens.. and VI. oh well, its good, but its not better than skáphe1. even the dark ambient vibe on the first record is much more stronger and natural..

    • This is a reasonable opinion. Thanks!

      • PabloEsko

        You´re welcome 🙂 I cant find a single review with any negations for now

    • Lacertilian

      With the recent spate of black metal albums having their tracks titled with merely a roman numeral to differentiate them, I usually take that as the signal that the band intends the album to be considered, and therefore consumed, as a whole piece rather than individual tracks.

      • PabloEsko

        i got that and also mentioned it in my Czech review but that doesnt mean it makes the record more interesting, when there is practically not much new to hear. plus I liked the names more too, it brought more suffering and mystery to listening.. and can you imagine skáphe3? what can be done more to innovate this (lets call it a subgenre) asphyxiating bm? i understand the hype around the misthyrming vocalist and i dont deny his great vocals – he has more wide range of them than in M, but the song structures are still the weaker thing here. but then, yes, not many people heard skáphe1 the first time so there will be more overhyped reviews anyway..

        • Lacertilian

          As I found Skáphe to be quite unique, I’m interested in hearing more bands that play in this particular style, do you have any recommendations?
          Conversely, I find the lack of individual track names to invoke more mystery than having explicit titles based on the lyrics.

          • PabloEsko

            They are pretty unique. I cant find a single comparison and Ive been looking for it over a year. One guy said it has similarities with Blut Aus Nord but I disagree. Well, if you want to get to know some other unique bm bands, try Yellow Eyes, Dressed in Streams, Ephemer or Erraunt!

          • Lacertilian

            See that’s the thing, they seem quite singular so I’d attribute the ‘hype’ you mention to that fact.
            I’ve heard Yellow Eyes, not really my thing. Enjoyed that Erraunt from last year, wrote about it some time ago. I’ll have a listen to those other two soon. Cheers.

    • Dubs

      I listened to the recent Ritual Chamber and had a similar feeling as to what you just described. As a singular work, I felt trapped by the repetition, though I did enjoy the product as a whole.