“This is the testimony of all that I have seen, and all that I have learned, in those years that I have possessed the Three Seals of MASSHU. I have seen One Thousand-and-One moons, and surely this is enough for the span of a man’s life [. . .] I am weak, and ill, and bear a great tiredness and exhaustion, and a sigh hangs in my breast like a dark lantern.”
—The Mad Arab
I’ve selected this, the opening passage from the apocryphal Necronomicon, to preface this review because in all honesty I am too lazy to sift back through that tome of fantastical gibberish in search of a more fitting or evocative excerpt. It may prove to be the case that there are no more fitting or evocative excerpts to be found in that tome of fantastical gibberish, in which case . . . good on me.
Why draw upon the bogus Necronomicon to ease us into things? Well, all of Titaan‘s song titles are in Sumerian (in my lack of scholarly resolve I can only assume this to be true ). Moreover, all promotional materials for Kadingir speak of an obsession with ancient Mesopotamian culture—specifically its esoteric spiritual practices. That said, an appreciation for ancient Sumerian metaphysics is not necessary to pick up what Titaan is putting down.
From the horror-slick caverns of the spirit to the supervoids between clustered matter and energy—from the zonei to the azonei—Titaan has got you covered. Kadingir splits its near-seventy-minute runtime unevenly between dark ambient theatrics and black metal. There are a perplexing number of interlude tracks, i.e. tracks containing no metal, no proper songs, consisting instead of quiet eerie drones, acoustic passages, sound-collages or field-recordings and—oh yes, sweet Shaitan yes—ceremonial murder chants. In fact, the non-metal movements outnumber the metal 10-6. At best there is an ep’s worth of metal here. Personally, I can do without a dark ambient album ruptured at semi-regular intervals by paroxysms of black metal. I listen to ambient and metal music for disparate purposes, and to find them so inorganically juxtaposed here is a bit off-putting. Which is the true filler—the metal or the non-metal?
I’m really not sure what Titaan is trying to achieve—but that does not mean I do not like it. Their focus on form-over-substance is intriguing, and keeps me coming back despite my frustrations. Perhaps there are secrets to be unlocked here, subterranean connections between the extreme violence and extreme calm; someone with a more evolved interest in the occult could probably glean a great deal more pleasure out of this dichotomous offering than I have managed to so far…
There doesn’t seem to be much point to describing the ambient music in detail, as I perceive the bulk of it to be mood-building filler. So let’s talk about the metal, yeah? When Titaan go for the metal, they do so with an intensity that cannot be ignored. With a smattering of deathy growls amongst the shrieks and a fair bit of low-end heft to the riffing, I’m tempted to refer to their style as deathened black metal. But enough mincing of genre-tags. The blastbeats are fairly relentless; the guitars invoke walls of dissonance beneath swirling otherworldly tremolos; restrained keyboard passages build atmospheres of corporeal dread and lust for the astral plane. Choral chants arise from time to time to remind us that all of this chaos and malevolence is perpetrated by man—in supplication to older things. Bizarrely, at least half of the metal songs end so abruptly that it is as if someone accidentally set their coffee down on the recording console’s MUTE button. Either Titaan can’t figure out how to finish a metal tune to save their lives, or it merely amuses them to jar us out of our wanton headbanging by replacing rage with nothingness. When Titaan stops crushing, it is only to make sure we’re paying attention before they lean into the next onslaught.
And now it is time to talk about the synth timpani. If you have ever found yourself sitting around blasting [insert black metal drug of choice] and thinking Hey, what this really needs to spice things up is some badass fucking synth timpani, then you are in luck: Titaan is the drug for you. Pairing their beloved synth timpani with some tribal oo-ee-oo-aah-aah-ing, Titaan achieve a sort of Temple of Doom effect which triggers traumatic memories of watching a man have his heart removed from his chest, by hand, while he is still alive. I’d be inclined to write it off as silly if the metal propping it up weren’t so darned good.
Do you prefer your proteins in smaller servings than your vegetables and starches? Do you spend your nights making mixtapes with pornogrind and chillwave? Do you crave non-negotiable contrast in all things? Well then, step right up to Kadingir. It may help to think of this album as a piñata. Statistically speaking, there’s got to be some tasty shit in there. Take a whack and see what falls out. (From Necronomicon to piñatas in 820 words: I DID NOT PLAN THIS.)
3 out of 5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
Kadingir is out now on ATMF.