2018 is certainly the year of blackgaze. The strong love for the style has really come to the fore this year as well as love for the bands of the genre; ALCEST, DEAFHEAVEN and more recently MØL who released their stunning debut album back in April. October sees another debut blackgaze album, this time from Norwegian blackgaze/post-black band AVAST. What sets AVAST apart from the rest is the inclusion of their native country’s style of black metal. They use this to their advantage to give their music an extra bite but Mother Culture is an absolutely stunning beauty. What I enjoy most about blackgaze is the feeling and emotions I get from the shoegaze riffs and the extreme intensity, AVAST are already masters of this and the album speaks for itself.
AVAST’s lyrical content lean towards the philosophical and poetical stance on social and environmental issues. Mother Culture is a concept album which examines the myths upon which modern civilisation is based and there is a looming sense of an impending catastrophe. Based on the philosophical novel Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, you know this going to be an intelligent and thought-provoking listen.
The album begins with the mesmerising title track. Building a wall of sound, the band erupt into a WINTERFYLLETH-esque black metal cascade. The pace and intensity of this song is spot-on, grabbing the listener in at the first chance and latching on for a post-black assault. When the shoegaze riffs kick in it’s a stunning switch to light and triumph, like when the sun rises after a frightful night. Absolutely beautiful.
The triumphant riffs and ambiance continues with the phenomenal instrumental track The Myth. It’s more post-rock than post-black, along the lines of MAYBESHEWILL and PELICAN but it just makes Mother Culture that little more spectacular. As the last guitar note rings, the song shifts suddenly, but seamlessly into the blistering Birth of Man. This track steamrolls through, obliterating everything in its wake. The atmosphere and depth of the sound are absolutely crushing, yet a calmness does descend for an IHSAHN-esque break during the intensity.
The World Belongs to Man is a bewitching track of ambitious proportions. There is a heart wrenching element to this song and the desperation and pain spills out into your ears. The rich textures of sound provides a massive tapestry for AVAST to project their philosophical woes creating an exceptional experience. An Earnest Desire is a more laidback affair which somehow amplifies the yearning. It deceives you into a false sense of security with its delicate and brooding instrumentation, but it bursts into blackgaze perfection. It’s another example of the songwriting prowess of AVAST and the true potential of their craft.
The impeccable Mother Culture needs an equally remarkable finale to do the album justice. Luckily Man Belongs to the World provides a fitting conclusion to this devastating blackgaze showcase. This track is a bit more modest compared to other songs on the album in terms of pace, but this somehow magnifies the components of AVAST and allows you to appreciate the timbre of the riffs and emotion of the vocals. The reduction in tempo and textures towards the end could imply the forthcoming catastrophe. Each component is wiped out until there is only feedback, then silence.
An absolutely breathtaking debut record, AVAST are sure to be accepted as one of the new blackgaze greats. The ambition, ability and intelligence of this record is profound. After listening to the intensity on the record I am eager to experience Mother Culture live. This is only the beginning.