Rorcal – Silence


Geneva noise terrorists, Rorcal, produced the most terrifying record of 2021. We noted in our review of Witch Coven that, ‘It doesn’t get much more extreme than this record. Insane levels of rage and inhumane layers of distorted guitars are commonplace in metal, but few descend into the seventh circle of hell where Rorcal find themselves.” The band are now ready to drill through craniums with album number six, and they show no signs of stepping back from the void. It’s impossible to escape the trauma during the forty-one minutes of audio hell they create here. Be warned: this album will annihilate you.

The power electronics and drone elements of 2021’s Witch Coven are not as prominent in this effort, but the band’s Meshuggah guitar tunings and atmospheric noise layers are unlike anything in contemporary music. Maybe Autarkh or Dodecahedron are the nearest comparison. You might use the post-black metal label to describe ‘Early Mourning’ and ‘Childhood is a Knife in the Throat’, but that seems like a lazy option. True, you could imagine Blut Aus Nord sounding like this if you asked them to use a pitch shifter effect on their guitars with the stomach-bleeding vocals of Cult of Luna. How do the guitarists produce an ethereal output with such a wall of sound burning through their amps? “All joy, all kindness / Are manifestations of a weak will to survive,” roars vocalist, Yonni Chapatte. This is what the black box recording of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 would sound like if the aviation authorities ever found it. The agonising screams and jarring distortion effects blend into one horrific pitch of human anguish.

It feels like an act of clemency when the band focus on a quieter introspection in the intro to ‘Extinguished Innocence’, but even this pulsates with an eerie arpeggio passage that pits incongruent notes against each other. The intervals ache like fingernails with match sticks digging underneath them. Only when the second guitar cuts through the mix with ringing doom chords, can you hear the outlines of a riff. If this is doom metal, it’s from another planet. Here, Yonni Chapatte channels his distant screams into pseudo-melodic formations as if mocking the sanctity of life: “I become the guilt / I embrace all that’s wrong / My actions do not need justification anymore.” By contrast, ‘Hope is Cancer’ is more frenetic in its dynamic shifts, with drum spasms and cosmic black metal guitars fighting each other like violent weather manifestations that have different abilities but the same goal to destroy everything in their path. Perhaps ‘Under the Nails’ is the one time you can see the outlines of a black metal composition as envisaged by French band, Celeste, yet it still sounds like Rorcal.

Analysing this record with the lyrics to hand is more rewarding than streaming it through your headphones with no understanding of where one song ends, and another begins. You need to cleanse your mind of all distractions to appreciate the true power of Rorcal’s misanthropy. It’s possible that Yonni Chapatte is being serious when he screams, “I will carry on haunting the living to erase their hope,” on closing track, ‘No Alleviation, Even in Death’. The furnace burns at unbearable temperatures as welding tools clash with the humming monotony of industrial machinery in the intro. The last thing you expect to evolve from this is a savage chug riff like Machine Head weighed down by Inter Arma’s externalised pain. How they turn this into a nine-minute expedition is just as impressive as the long-form audio obliteration created by Wallowing on their debut album earlier this year.

Of course, forty-one minutes of intense noise blasting disqualifies Silence as a record you can play on a daily basis. But you cannot but admire the terrifying darkness of Rorcal’s music, even if it belongs in a parallel world that troubles your imagination. The will to live is not the same thing as the instinct to survive, and you’ll know this if you’ve ever seen an insect entangled in a spider’s web. Exhaustion will often kill it before the predator arrives to devour it. Rorcal can save you from a fate worse than death and spare you the pain of a long demise if you surrender your soul to them.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 29/09/2023

Record Label: Hummus Records

Standout tracks: Childhood is a Knife in the Throat; Extinguished Innocence; No Alleviation, Even in Death

Suggested Further Listening: Autarkh – Form in Motion (2021), Blut Aus Nord – Disharmonium – Undreamable Abysses (2022), Wallowing – Earth Reaper (2023)