Chasm of Nis- Redolent of Spheres
Justin Blake Smith has quickly become one of the more prolific performers of putrid, pestilential putrescence in the American Death Metal scene. As one of the main forces behind Encoffination's brand of sinfully slothful down-tempo Death/Doom and Father Befouled's well oiled Incantation worship machine, JBS has also had a prolific solo career with acts such as Hills of Sefiroth and Vomitchapel. But his newest project, Chasm of Nis, is by far the most interesting and dynamic project yet. In today's modern Death Metal scene, Chasm of Nis might not be as original as it would have been just a few years ago, but it still brings a somewhat fresh perspective on Occult Blackened Death Metal.
Redolent of Spheres doesn't too a lot to separate itself from the myriad of highly atmospheric, low-fi Star Cult provocateurs that are quickly saturating the genre, but it does just enough to stand out. Featuring only two real tracks(it also has a cool intro and a completely pointless outro that borders on offensive), Redolent of Spheres doesn't have much time to make an impact but makes the most of it. Comparisons to Portal, Antediluvian and Grave Upheaval are almost mandatory here, and they do fit. JBS brings many of the same aspects to the table: lurching, ritualistic tempos, deep guttural vocals(which suddenly sound powerful and interesting, after being completely pointless on the recent Father Befouled, which makes me think it's a production issue), and a hazy production which suffers from some unfortunate distortion that occasionally gets obnoxious. But Redolent of Spheres does bring a bit more to the table, namely in a distinct and surprising influence which stood out to me almost immediately: some of these riffs will being to mind Demilich, and in the best way possible. "Œnemic Subjugation" explodes right out of the gate with ferocious blasting and a strange, dischordant and chaotic lead with a guitar sound as close to Nespithe as I have ever heard. It's incredibly awesome, and after a moment of sleepy miasma, it returns again and expands in a way which is really exciting. "Archaiciasis Ænfernal" is an even more dynamic track, which runs the gauntlet of Portal, Grave Upheaval and Demilich with fluidity and song writing chops. It's a killer track, filled with creepy underpinnings of melody and some truly demonic atmosphere.
I can honestly say I haven't been all that kind to previous projects from JBS, but Chasm of Nis shows that the man has more in him than slow stuff and Incantation worship. Redolent of Spheres is short and doesn't truly light the world on fire, but it's a highly enjoyable listen which brings just enough originality to the table to stand out in an increasingly over-crowded scene. Hopefully, the Demilich-esque elements take center stage here, giving Chasm of Nis and even more defined place in America's massive Death Metal scene. Be sure to purchase the demo here.