Ives - Abandon
Black metal has always had at least some peripheral relation to punk. Early bands like Ildjarn and Carpathian Forest used it, and when you think about it, the raw black metal style is very DIY. Still, from the past decade to the present, a much stronger surge of bands playing a black metal/punk mixture has arisen. Many of these bands have brought together the raw energy found in both punk and black metal, to vicious and often interesting ends. Florida's Ives are another recent band to try their hand at the black/punk mix, and Abandon is their second demo. It's a svelte 20 minutes with some interesting moments, though unfortunately more trite ones.
Opener “The Taste of Severity” starts with a God awful sound clip about cannibalism before breaking into some decent enough but very unsurprising black/punk. The music alternates between blackened punk chords backed by D-beat drumming and riffs that sound like Mayhem circa 1994. The vocalist growling “smear the blood on my face / taste the blood in my mouth” fails to have the emotional resonance they were going for.
From there, each track becomes longer than the last. Second track “Burning The Incense, Amanita Virosa” opens slowly and unfolds into a mix of black metal, crust punk and sludge. It's an interesting mix, like a black metal Dystopia, but the track quickly becomes more blackened Discharge worship, before switching to Mayhem/Darkthrone inspired black metal, and so on. 7 minutes in and one of the key problems with the demo becomes apparent: the music tends towards predictable shifts back and forth between riffs copped from classic Norwegian bands and Discharge inspired punk leading to unexciting ends.
The best parts of the demo occur in the last half. Part way through “Lost In The Pleasures Of Moonlight”, the music shifts into dark and droning chords which accompany a xylophone (!!!) before exploding into some absolutely fierce black/thrash riffing that blew me away, especially coming right after the down tempo bridge. Titular track “Abandon” provides interesting moments as well. Its dramatic opening displays vocal variance with some yelling taking the place of the standard black metal rasps that dominate the rest of demo. The song sadly turns into another back and forth between punk and riffs that sound like they wouldn't be out of place in Darkthrone's Under a Funeral Moon. Surprisingly though, Ives then does another bizarre 180 into unique territory when fiddle begins playing over melancholy black metal riffing before fading out (albeit somewhat sloppily) into an instrumental passage of folk consisting of acoustic guitars and haunting fiddle. The black metal comes back in, accompanied by excellent cymbal use. The fiddle stays present for the remainder of the track providing an incredibly enjoyable final minute before the demo ends.
Therein, though, lies another one of the problems. The unique moments are caught in a mire of ho-hum punk and black metal riffing jacked from early Norwegian BM records. The crust/sludge/black opening of “Burning The Incense”, the ambient bridge, creative use of xylophone and thrashy finish to “Lost In The Pleasures Of Moonlight” and the violin use, folk break and melancholy riffing in “Abandon” are excellent, but are caught between trite filler. Ives definitely shows promise on Abandon. They have the potential to pull together an interesting full length, either by making an eclectic album (similar to what Akitsa and Ash Pool have done) that tastefully displays their various ideas, or by bringing it all together into a more cohesive style. Either way, they'll need to root out the generic aspects of their song writing. I'd definitely be interested in a debut album from them, and Abandon has some wonderful moments, but as a whole it fails to thrill.