Splitsville 2017: Haunter and Black Vice
Last week, Invisible Oranges premiered a new split 12″ featuring Austin, Texas’s Haunter and Black Vice, two young black metal bands poised to do great things. Or not. It depends on them, really. I’m just here to comment upon what they’ve done so far. Or actually just to comment upon this 12″ split. I’ve already commented on Haunter before; as for Black Vice, this is my introduction to the band.
All this time, I’ve been blaming some flaw in the Concept of the Split for my failure to fully enjoy one to this day–as if there is something inherent to the architecture of the split which prevents its total success. This is pretty obviously not the case, though. After some self-reflection, I’ve come to understand that I just don’t like a wide enough array of metallic sub-genres to enjoy both halves of most split releases. I’m not saying it is impossible for this to ever happen; just that the odds against it are rather high.
And this here split is not going to even those odds. Black Vice opens the proceedings with three songs that all kind of sound like the same song. It’s an okay song if you’re into cavernous, mesmerically repetitive black metal. There are even some surprises hiding in the caverns, like some kind of flute that pops up in the latter half of “Into the Abyssal Empty Void” (note: three of those five words mean essentially the same thing). But is that lone flute-like instrument enough to make me yearn for a Black Vice full-length album? No ma’am, it is not.
Onward then to Haunter. I’ll state it again here for the sheer pleasure of stating it: Haunter is one of the most exciting bands working in the American black metal underground today. Did I say “American”? Fuck it. It’s time to upgrade that status to GLOBAL. Although I’m not quite sure they’re a black metal band anymore. I mean, they were never just a black metal band–there were always a lot of other elements kicking around in their songs, from hardcore to folk to psychedelic whateverthefuck–but the two songs they’ve contributed to this split, while immediately recognizable as Haunter, present quite a striking leap in direction from last year’s Thrinodía. I don’t know what the three dudes in this band have been listening to lately, but to these ears it sounds like a whole bunch of Abyssal, Convulsing and [insert any given twisted, dissonant, progressive death metal band here].
Which is to say, I never noticed how much dissonant death metal was present on Thrinodía until I heard this split, which finds Haunter stripping away a lot of their other facets to focus on this one. The vocals are almost exclusively growled; the riffs are a lot meatier; the structures are much more reminiscent of dissonant death’s ever-shifting visage than black metal’s more compact approach. These two tracks churn and jerk and writhe like a snake that’s been pinned to the ground with a sharp stick. They’re as busy as a bird’s eye view of the Nine Circles of Hell. This is the shit blasting in Pinhead’s mind as he pleasures himself to the Agony of Those Who Fucked with the Box.
In essence, this is the ugly side of Haunter asserting its right to dominate. They’ve cut away all the pretty, sad and ponderous dimensions which made Thrinodía such a thrill, leaving only the rage, disgust and chaos. And the miracle is that they have managed to do so without hobbling themselves. I don’t miss Thrinodía when I listen to these new songs; I just hunger for more.
The Black Vice/Haunter split 12″ is available in vinyl or digital formats at the Red River Family Bandcamp Page. (The vinyl edition may actually be a pre-order but…uh…the promo materials for this were convoluted, so…???)