Swiss black metallers ColdCell have returned with Those, a record that would feel rather comical judging by the title, if it wasn’t as brackish and depressing as I’ve witnessed here. The frontman seems pissed off at the whole damn world, which really works in his favor – it makes for a believable performance. Though the record explores some rather cold atmospheres aside from it’s metal meat, I feel that ColdCell create the kind of bleak black metal that actually seems to solidify the genre in this day and age. Notably, the band feature a member of Schammasch (their drummer) here titled aW and his performance is just as memorable as in any Schammasch record. Now, you might look at this review and wonder why such an occult laden act like Schammasch would spin off into something so bleak, at least as far as their drummer is concerned. Well, the lyrical content here happens to deal with “death of spirituality” and “loss of consciousness.” In fact, some of it can sound very ritualistic at times, which makes perect sense. It’s definitely more interesting than the last Schammasch record too, despite the fact that I normally don’t mind small ritualistic EP thingies.
In other words, ColdCell’s Those brings back the heaviness that the aforementioned lacked even if it comes packed with a similar amount of light atmospheric tracks to keep the mood. But there’s nothing here that feels uplifting, nor should there be. The first sentence of this review read “Swiss black metallers” and I feel that more or less explains the attitude and performance of this release. It is not heavy with guitar solos, nor clean vocals, nor anything with even a slight glimpse of peace. Even the light acoustic melodies sound a bit grim, which works to show us that the album offers absolutely no respite within it’s dark, cruel void. Those is quite dim, ugly and deep. It requires more than a full listen to properly understand and even I haven’t fully soaked it in yet.
In the same regard, I’ve never felt that there was anything overly uplifting about Schammasch, though I will reiterate to those outside the fence of this practice that the occult is not purely a dark, demonic or negative practice. This kind of music just represents a much bleaker side of it. If you’re looking for brighter rituals, you may find them if you choose to look for them. That being said, even Dead Can Dance can be a bit ominous and melancholy sometimes; so perhaps we occultists (or magicians, if you like) feel that the “art” is a bit more mysterious and less inviting than what is offered in religious hymns. Though, if you think about it; aren’t religious hymns and even Christmas carols a wee bit creepy in how saccharine they are? There are also ten-thousand or more of the damn things. At least with music like this, despite how unpleasant it might come off to the listener; it is real. There isn’t the sound of a man singing happy along with a hymnal in hand after he’d beaten his wife just the night before. When ColdCell got together to write this furious, deeply depressing and thought-provoking album, they did it to show that the outside realm (Morrison calls it “the other”) is not necessarily a welcoming place. There is a good chance that no heaven waits outside with an assortment of little chocolate donuts with cream in the middle. I feel that such an album fully demonstrates the uncertainty of life beyond the flesh and the mysterious nature of occult practice in general. I’d simply have it no other way.
(8 Tracks, 54:00)