Demo II by Amnutseba

Release date: February 7, 2018
Label: Caligari Records

With no interviews, no track or album names and no named band members, the elusive French black metal act Amnutseba are certainly doing their part to maintain an air of mystery around their music. Last year they released a four-track demo tape, limited to just 200 copies, which contained almost 20 minutes of unearthly, searing black metal. This year, just seven months after the release of their first demo, the group have made their return with a two-track limited edition demo tape.

Filling in the gaps from their last release, which contained four tracks entitled ‘I’, ‘II’, ‘IV’ and ‘V’, Demo II‘s two contributions are named ‘III’ and ‘VI’. The first track ‘III’ opens with a hazy passage of trancey guitar before being joined by ponderous, slow-moving drums and guttural vocals. In a similar fashion to Demo I‘s temporal complexity, as ‘III’ unravels it proceeds to shift seamlessly between passages of blissful tremolo, shuffling blast beats, brief crescendos and other interesting rhythmic diversions. While the structure of Demo I seemed to allude to four tracks being played in quick succession and as such did not seem to dwell too much on each transition within each individual track, on Demo II Amnutseba seem to invest much more time in fleshing out the numerous twists and turns, perhaps emphasized by the longer song lengths, with the end result giving ‘III’ an overall more grandiose, majestic feel.

There’s little respite before the second track, ‘IV’ erupts into a volatile flow of buzz-saw guitar riffs and sustained high speed drumming. Like ‘III’ however it’s not long before the howling, frost-bitten melodies and sepulchral vocals enter back into the mix and new patterns, grooves and discordant melodies begin to emerge. The overall effect evokes similar feelings to ascending a mountain and being faced with increasingly harsh terrain. The underlying mood is uneasy but also triumphal, as the song’s structure holds through the numerous deviations. As the end of the track approaches, the guitars briefly drop away entirely as the drums advance alone across a frozen ambient backdrop, scoured by withering vocals before reemerging once again to trace ever more jagged, yet still melodic lines, as the whole song begins to fold in on itself and finally disintegrates into violent static.

Occasionally the mystery generated around a band can detract from the music itself, however, in Amnutseba’s case, it seems perfectly in keeping with their serpentine, inscrutable sound. Demo II is a journey even further into the unknown, revealing sides of the Amnutseba’s music that were only hinted at before. If this is merely a teaser of what’s to come, it certainly suggests their, defiant, idiosyncratic, brand of darkness has a bright future.

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