The music of Lauren Straily’s Nameless Mist solo project, despite not being too widely circulated (yet), is heavily associated with DSBM; the genre is even explicitly mentioned in the Raleigh multi-instrumentalist’s Bandcamp bio. But make no mistake—this is, at its core, beneath all the dark loathsome layers, profoundly cathartic and sometimes even triumphant music, particularly in the case of II. I don’t mean to imply that tracks like “The Behemoth” and “The Dead Woman” aren’t the abrasive, harrowing expressions of pain and hatred that they are, and there are plenty of familiar DS tropes to go around with all the plodding slowcore breaks, blasts blurred into drones, and vocals that sound like the howling knives of ice cold wind that slice at your ears when you forget your hat. I just want to make it clear that II won’t make you sad (unless you’re already sad, in which case it’ll definitely make you sadder, but you probably planned for that anyway). At least for me, the effect of this sublime opus of perfectly underproduced black metal is the reintroduction of a violent, feral appreciation for life and all of its misery and violence and impossibility, an appreciation for it as a foe rather than a friend. Existing sucks. Let’s not pretend it doesn’t. But we face it together, and that’s something. And, of course, nonexistence necessarily precludes witnessing the majesty that is “The Queen of Shadows.” Life wins again.