When you reach the 13-minute mark in the Old Testament-long "Embers" by ION, a sense of dread and disorientation washes over you, like the moment a nightmare jolts you from eternity, sending you spiraling back to bleary-eyed consciousness where you're not exactly sure if those shadows crawling in the corner of your room are real or a sliver of leftover dreamscape. The guitar death wails and cavernous echoes make that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach grow until it pulls you so far down you can't even see the promised light at the end of the tunnel. Just darkness slathered on darkness, so thick you can taste its slimy texture at the back of your mouth.
Listening to the black metal outfit's debut self-titled LP is an oppressively heavy experience on numerous levels — emotionally, psychologically, and even physically. Their unique interpretation of the genre is powerful and frightening: Powerful because the musical chops are, at times, punishingly extreme, and frightening because you, the listener, never quite know what is coming next. Long, winding arrangements averaging around 10 minutes drag you into canyon-sized craters of sorrow and suffering, sometimes completely disintegrating into a cacophony of ambient sounds and atmospheric instrumental layering. These can be terrifying sonic excursions that wander into the shadier neighborhoods of your brain, the ghettos of fear and despair, but those who stick it out will be rewarded with the haunted, gorgeous ending on album closer "Echoes Through An Open Wound."
Of course, not all the tracks are total psychedelic blowouts. Opener "Abolished" is a pummeling burst of blast beats and searing vocals, and "Waters of Dusk" contains some crushing elements of doom. But to merely detail the long list of styles the band incorporates into their engrossing sound is beside the point. Their album needs to be experienced as a whole in one sitting in order to absorb the full mind-warping effect.
The band has started work on a follow-up and you can catch them live this weekend at the Elbo Room.
So Hideous, Bosse-De-Nage, ION
May 15, 2016
9pm, $8-10 (21+)