From: The Headbanging Moose
Published: March 4, 2020
Formed in 2014 in London, England, Urban Black Metal one-man project Kassad conveys an all-encompassing sense of existential terror and claustrophobic anxiety that hits you and builds to a crescendo before everything descends into dread and finally nothingness, combining the misery, futility, and madness of modern urban life with abrasive and gritty Black Metal and a hallucinatory ambience, being therefore highly recommended for fans of bands like Ihsahn, Darkspace, Burzum, Altar of Plagues, Nachtmystium and Downfall of Nur, among several others. After the releases of his debut EP Humans, in 2016, and his first full-length album Faces Turn Away, in 2017, an album that by the way explored themes of misery and claustrophobia in an urban setting, it’s time for Kassad to dive deep into this theme once again with his sophomore full-length opus, entitled London Orbital.
Recorded and mixed at Lusus Studios in London, mastered by Daniel Thabet at Liquid Studios, and featuring a gray and modern cover art by Brutal Colours, London Orbital centers around modern urban living and looks to a near future of megacities where the city itself is a personified, malevolent being where human empathy and culture have been replaced by artificial intelligence. “I wanted to create music for an imagined, future London – one where the city’s monoliths of glass and concrete have come alive to assert their malevolent control over the millions of people that live and toil amongst them. Workers travel in the vast shadows of these buildings, in the tunnels and transport systems that snake below or in the briefest snatches of sun that are yet to be blacked out. If you tilt your head and look at the city just right, you can already see the light starting to turn to darkness,” commented Kassad about his newborn spawn, an album that, besides its strong Black Metal root, also knows when to slow to a crawling funeral dirge to convey total despair and the loss of hope.
Ominous and melancholic sounds permeate the air from the very first second in The Boundary, where the serenity of Post-Metal is beautifully blasted by Kassad through his strident guitars and steady beats, exploding into high-end Urban Black Metal until its enfolding ending and with first-class poetry flowing from its introspective lyrics (“The city on the hill / Calls me for herself / Wants to own me / Like all her empty souls / That live inside her walls / A digital slave hoard / Eternal fires in code”). Then darker and heavier than the opening track, The Concrete is a gorgeous and captivating lesson in Atmospheric Black Metal where Kassad roars and gnarls in great fashion while at the same time he keeps pounding his drums and slashing his guitar strings nonstop, always focusing on extracting minimalist sounds and tones from all instruments.
And Kassad offers more of his Stygian and introspective sounds in The Hope, a song perfect for gazing at the sky on a cold winter night in the city, and as soon as you are absolutely mesmerized by his atmospheric and depressive music, Kassad brings forth a wall of blackened sounds that will crush your senses mercilessly. The Hopeless starts in a way that’s just as obscure and gray, working as a sequel to the previous song, showcasing Doom Metal-inspired sluggish beats intertwined with sounds of nature and eerie background elements before Kassad comes ripping with his anguishes growls in another top-tier Post-Black Metal extravaganza; and as Kassad’s grand finale to the album we have The Hollow, which begins in an even more melancholic and grim manner, with that bleak and ethereal vibe going on until the end of the song in a solid and vibrant display of austere, unadulterated and piercing Urban Black Metal.
As aforementioned, in London Orbital, which is available in full on YouTube and on Spotify, Kassad continues to delve into the claustrophobic, grim and lonely life in the city, resulting in a must-have album for admirers of the more modern side of Post-Black Metal and Atmospheric Black Metal. Hence, don’t forget to show your support to Kassad by following him on Facebook, and of course by purchasing your copy of London Orbital from the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ BandCamp or webstore in different formats, like the regular CD version or the “Faces Surveilled From Orbit” mega-bundle, as well as from Apple Music, from Amazon, from CD Baby or from Discogs. In a nutshell, Kassad managed to turn all the hopelessness, solitude and cold landscapes of his hometown into a majestic feast of grim and at the same time delicate sounds in London Orbital, proving Urban Black Metal is and will always be the perfect soundtrack for our harsh lives in the concrete jungles we live in.
Reviewed by: Gustavo Scuderi
Posted by Nick Skog. Posted In : English