INCESSANT: Perennial Umbra
Release year: 2021
Sometimes I just have to wonder if the people writing promo sheets have actually listened to the same record as I do when I’m reviewing it. Irish Incessant‘s debut mini-album Perennial Umbra is a case in point: the promo sheets says, and I quote verbatim, that the album “will give you the experience of loud and heavy bands of the late 60s, 70s, and 80s while driving forward the sound and atmosphere of black and death metal today.”
But that’s just a crock. There’s nothing on here to remind you of any loud and heavy bands of yore – and really, nothing to hint in the direction of death metal, either. This is just black metal, period. And, considering it’s pretty good black metal, I have to wonder why whoever wrote the promo sheet had to invent an obviously bull line like the above. I’d figure there’d be more than enough to say about how the actual music sounds.
What does it sound like, then, I hear you ask. And I’m glad you did, because Incessant’s take on black metal is certainly not without merits.
Basically, what characterizes Incessant more than anything else is the rolling mid-tempo they employ on basically all of the tracks. The trio rarely go for speedy blasting or doomy lurching, instead opting for an upper mid-tempo trot for most of this 22 minute, four track release. And though it in itself is a small thing, it does manage to set Perennial Umbra apart from the competition at least to some degree.
Other than that, Incessant owe a fairly large debt to 90’s black metal. Whilst the tempos are slower than bands of the era typically used, the other instrumentation, songwriting and style are very second wave. Not to the degree where Incessant sounds like a carbon copy of some band or some regional scene’s sound, but you can certainly pick out familiar elements here.
At their best, Incessant sound a bit like Darkthrone on the slower tracks of an album like Total Death, laced with some riffage that makes one think of Deströyer 666. That’s kind of the spectrum of extreme metal where Incessant lodge themselves in: a base of fairly standard 90’s black metal with nuances from other forms of extreme metal. Fans of namedropping can sift through classic 90’s black metal and pick names they want, and pick names from other modern bands doing the same thing, but by and large the point is made clear by the above; whilst Incessant do cast their eyes back a couple of decades, any talk about “giving the experience of loud and heavy bands of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s” is just that – talk.
Incessant’s style isn’t exactly original, in other words, but they do combine the tried-and-true elements they’ve lifted from bands of yore in a manner that isn’t exactly everyday common. The rolling mid-tempos, the throat-tearing raspy vocals, and the overall cold sound all mesh together a sound that has at least a degree of own character, if not being entirely unique.
And to top it all of: a sound that is good. It’s true that none of the four tracks stand out as a classic or particularly memorable, but the overall impression one is left with after this mini-album is positive. There’s atmosphere, there’s well-balanced compositions, there’s enough of variety; in other words: there’s quality. With a game opener like this, Incessant are on the right path. It’ll be interesting to see where they go in the future.
Summary: Not the most original black metal band around, but rife with promise.