The London duo of Fas (instrumentation) and Nuun (vocals) make it their mission to take black metal to new frontiers that are fertile for exploration but beyond the endurance of most artists. Sea Mosquito call their music ‘unorthodox black metal’, and with three EPs behind them and a new album comprising one song over twenty-two minutes and fifty-three seconds in length, who can disagree with them?
The sceptic in you should be wary of a composition that breaches the twenty-minute mark. Will it hold your attention? Will it piece together like embroidery or fail like sticking plaster? These questions soon disappear when the opening riff fades in and bubbles along like the hell-broth of the witches’ cauldron in Macbeth. You’ll hear the throbbing bass guitar enter at the one-minute mark and marvel at the efficacy of the double-handed hi-hat. Like the intro to Voivod’s ‘Tribal Convictions’, the guitars subsist on a basic alt-picking pattern that threatens to spill over into something more sinister and discordant. This puzzle gives way to an impending drone of digeridoo and gargling black metal vocals after 03:40 seconds but soon lays down the first challenge to your senses. Of course, the question on your lips is a simple one: what the hell is this?
The fact Sea Mosquito could fit into at least four different sub-genres of the extreme metal spectrum is a testament to their imagination and creativity. The first key change at 04:04 seconds will remind you of the recent release from Epiphanic Truth and might even recall Slugdge in the way they slip into a shredding rhythmic attack at the flick of a button. The “ahhhhhh” and “ohhhhhh” of the gothic keyboards accentuate Nuun’s soliloquy with trepidation and anxiety: “With fire I shall banish thee/ Terrors of the night, malignant pursuers/ Back! To the dark yawning emptiness/ Back! Do not come against me.” Is he having an outer-body experience or undergoing dangerous hallucinations?
Themes of sanity and perceptions of reality abound throughout this record, often spiked with the unease of dissonant chords and sudden changes in tempo. The blast beats at the seven-minute mark come from nowhere, just as the segue into a new song at 11:32 seconds recycles the opening riff with different techniques. One moment they conjure images of a man destroying a field of vegetation with a flame-thrower. In the next, they’re imitating the sound of quicksand opening up to devour the foolish people who think they can surmount it.
Swiss experimentalists, Rorcal, showed us earlier this year what you can achieve with multiple layers of harsh noise and latent melody buried among the distortion and despair. Sea Mosquito operate on similar territory but prefer the contrasting dynamics of Blut Aus Nord to recreate the paranoia of their protagonist. For this protagonist is on the cusp of a realisation that he can control his own death: “My body shall not be yours/ My blood shall not be yours/ My soul shall not yours/ I shall not be yours,” cries Nuun. The orgasmic saxophone solo and transcendent keyboard atmospherics at the end suggest the possibility of a peaceful exit from the stage of life. It’s an expiration that comes with the relief of perishing on your own terms, at a time of your choosing. You’ll unclench your fingers and breathe out in recognition that your decelerating heart rate is not ready to capitulate. You have cheated death.
Fire, Magic & Venom explores the corporeal and the spiritual and takes you on a terrifying journey. But you survive the tumult of emotions and emerge a stronger person. This is a dark expedition you need to undertake.
Release Date: 02/07/2021
Record Label: Onism Productions
Standout tracks: N/A
Suggested Further Listening: Epiphanic Truth – Dark Triad: Bitter Psalms to a Sordid Species (2021), Voivod – Dimension Hatröss (1988), Rorcal & Earthflesh – Witch Coven (2021)