Album Review: Spektr – Cypher

Spektr - Cypher

Spektr [France]
Cypher
2013
Full Length
Agonia Records
Industrial/Ambient/Black Metal

Spektr has largely remained a rather mysterious band since their formation, with little to no information being available about the duo behind the band, other than the fact that the band has had numerous releases over the years which has garnered critical acclaim from the extreme music underground. Cypher, their third full length release also marks their first under famed extreme metal label Agonia Records. This being my first experience with the band, and being personally one who hasn’t heard much industrial or dark ambient, it is pretty exciting indeed to hear what the band has put in place for casual listeners and fans alke on this record.

With album opener Hermetism, one immediately knows that this will be no easy journey, what with the haunting atmosphere that the band quickly establishes. Then as the track ends and Teratology begins, one is treated to yet another round of mind fuck, with raw, crackling background noise being contrasted with jazz-styled drumming and bass lines, before suddenly being confronted with harsh riffs and industrial-styled percussions. And it is here where the French side of the band becomes extremely obvious, with the dissonant chords and riffs of Spektr‘s black metal being extremely reminiscent to their fellow countrymen Deathspell Omega. But just as suddenly as one is assaulted by the black metal segment, it quickly subsides and one is again treated to the jazzy side of the band, and while it is putting it too simply, one has to simply expect the unexpected on Cypher. In fact, one would come to realise as the album progresses that it balances its black metal and ambient aspects nicely, with each different aspect complementing the other to keep the listener in constant suspense.

Vocals take a back seat on Spektr‘s Cypher, as they are extremely sporadic, to even non-existent on most of the tracks here. Everything is driven by the atmosphere, from samples, the synths, the basslines and even down to the harsh and trebly guitar tone, all made to ensure that the listener feels extreme discomfort throughout the entirety of the album. Spoken samples also help to reinforce the darkness in the music, like on The Singularity, exploring the darker side of humanity and the booming voice on Solitude further sends chills down the listener’s backs. Yet despite the disturbing stuff that is going on, the material is extremely captivating and one soon finds himself trapped in the vortex created by Spektr. It definitely helps as well that all the tracks on Cypher link smoothly to one another, ensuring an experience that is undisturbed.

Cypher is definitely a masterpiece in its own rights, showcasing French black metal in its full glory and in its most classic, and fusing that with complementary genres to produce some of the most unpleasant sounds, and disturbing experiences so far.

Spektr on the internet:
Agonia Records

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