Review: Kommodus – Kommodus (self-released, May 29)

I recently read something in one of Bandcamp Daily’s This Week’s Essential Releases columns that really struck me as inaccurate: the claim (in the context of I and I by A Pregnant Light) that “the vast field of one-person black metal bands isn’t exactly known for experimentation.” In my experience, some of the most subversive and unusual material I’ve encountered in this genre has been generated by solo projects, from the solitary woodland blackgaze of Petrychor or innovative folk-music substitution of Kaatayra to the abrasive nocturnal misery of La Torture Des Ténèbres or power-noise mayhem of Gnaw Their Tongues. One-person acts display a unique trend of reverence to the black metal tradition while allowing for diversity and adventurousness, something exemplified by the recent self-titled release from Lepidus Plague’s Kommodus. With a rich tape recording by “Count Hoggeth Palmeri” and contributions from the “Kommodus horde” (which apparently includes Burier, a Noise Not Music favorite), Kommodus is the first full-length studio album from the project, stuffing its ample 63-minute duration full of incendiary riffs desperate howls, and punishing brutality. Things start off innocuously enough with the short “Black Evangelion” introduction, but Plague soon displays the viciousness in store for listeners on the following “Where Iron and Blood Converge,” a lengthy and punishing track whose heavy-hitting rhythms draw from both hardcore and thrash. The group vocals really add an important angle too, evoking the howling winds that swirl around desolate mountaintops or the echoes of agony from distant hells on “Heir to the Line of Wolves.” An excellent release; nothing shockingly revolutionary, but certainly still more than “turn[ing] the treble way up, turn[ing] the bass way down, press[ing] record and sound[ing] demonic.”