Review: Wounds of Recollection – Nowhere Else Feels More Like Home (self-released, Aug 14)

I don’t think it’s just my tirelessly pedantic brain to blame when I lament the ubiquity of the “one-man black metal” descriptor. It’s no secret that extreme metal in general has a history steeped in testosterone-fueled toxic masculinity, but especially as the genre matures in the time of the internet and new levels of tolerance and representation are achieved, “one-man” remains a vestigial assumptive phrase, often applied in cases in which the actual gender of the musician is not explicitly known. Its continued presence feeds into the problematic side of the hermetic mysticism that imbues black metal with so much of its “kvlt” appeal, when such extramusical aspects can be easily maintained without relying on archaic binaries. The multi-instrumentalist behind Atlanta solo project Wounds of Recollection (hereafter WoR) may or may not agree with me on this, since they specifically identify as a “one-man band,” but regardless of what the artist believes, their new album Nowhere Else Feels More Like Home embodies a promising, radiant trajectory toward a more “wholesome” (I use this word relatively) black metal tradition for the new age. Lengthy opener “Backyard Burial” is a cathartic display of impassioned vocal delivery—I also actually found myself following along with the lyrics, a rarity for me with this sort of thing—sublime harmonic resolutions, and a propulsive drum presence that allows the track to sit nicely somewhere between fiery stampede and formless drift. WoR makes sure to let the listener breathe at all the right times, pulling the intensity back for a poignant spoken word interlude or crystalline clean guitar respite before stomping the pedals once again. The entirety of “Another Year” is essentially this, but unlike many instrumental acoustic-meander tracks that halt the energy of the album in which they’re placed, it actually feels natural and earned here since even the most abrasive moments of Nowhere Else are saturated in distinctly personal emotion. It is rare that a metal album makes you feel this close to actually knowing the artist a little better, and for that reason WoR is a new favorite.

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