2017 may be winding down, and the stream of new releases may have slowed to a trickle as everyone’s attention turns to their year-end best of lists, but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing coming out this month worth checking out. They might not be the highest-profile releases—as far as I know, there’s no equivalent to Baroness’s Purple dropping this year—but how often do those high-profile releases live up to their hype, anyway? Give me some of that good underground shit any day of the week.
Case in point: Transcendent Emptiness, the second full length from Finnish black metal quintet Perdition Winds. Actually, in a perfect world this would be a slightly higher profile release, as it features members from some of Finland’s finest black and death metal bands, including Lie in Ruins, Corpsessed, Desolate Shrine, and the mighty motherfucking Sargeist. With such an unfuckwithable pedigree, my expectations going into Transcendent Emptiness were (understandably) pretty damned high. Luckily, Perdition Winds more than met them –this album is some riffed-out, menacing black metal of the highest order.
I want to focus on the ‘riffed-out’ part of that last statement for a minute, because black metal isn’t necessarily a genre known for its riffs. On a certain level, that’s understandable – when you’ve got that lo-fi, kvlt as fvck production, any nuance in terms of riffs tends to get lost in the tape hiss. Still, I feel like more black metal bands are starting to feel compelled by the power of the riff. Basically the entire Brooklyn/NYC black metal scene is based on riff-centric black metal, as are a lot of the German bands. Perdition Winds seem to split the difference between the two – slightly more Germanic in terms of their songwriting, but with a production style closer to an NYC band like Woe. I’ve mentioned this in previous reviews, but there’s a kind of austerity to German black metal that makes it a bit difficult for me to get into. Perdition Winds don’t suffer from that issue. The production is clean enough that all of the instruments and riffs are discernable, but still dirty enough to not come off as sterile.
In terms of highights, I suppose it comes down to the type of black metal you prefer. For fans of the moody stuff, the predominantly instrumental “Asphyxiation” and creeping “Satrunial Void” should definitely scratch that itch with its slow arpeggios and largely mid-tempo riffs. Those who like their black metal more aggressive will gravitate towards tracks like “Saints of the Deathfields” and “Impious Frontier.” And listeners (like me) who enjoy a mix of them all will be drawn to “Malicious Seed,” and “Venus Rising.” In other words, whatever you’re into, you’ll find something to get excited about here.
So while Transcendent Emptiness is likely dropping a bit too late to garner any consideration for the various year-end lists, it’s still some seriously killer black metal that’s well worth spending some time with. If you’re even a passing a fan of black metal, or a fan of any of the members’ other bands, definitely five this one a listen.
Transcendent Emptiness will be available on December 8 via Hellthrasher Productions.
Clayton T. Michaels (Senior Editor) is a mild-mannered college English teacher by day, and a craft beer drinking, black metal and grindcore loving misanthrope by night. He’s also an award-winning poet and rabid Red Sox fan. Send him your promos at [email protected] You can also find him posting pictures of black metal cassettes and beer can labels on Instagram as @ironhops.