One thing that intrigues me about black metal is the variety of ways it can be interpreted. Apart from the more ‘traditional’ black metal, bands like Deafheaven, Oathbreaker and others have come up with their own heavily stylized version of black metal. The band I’m presenting you today falls perfectly into this category. Planning For Burial releases Below The House on the 10th of March, and it’s a record to fall in love with.
Below The House introduces a black, melancholic and almost neo-romantic sound. Amalgamating black metal, doom, shoegaze and elements of electronica, this record is quite the mix of genres and always keeps the listener on their toes with anticipation as they hear how each song plays out. The electronica elements serve as a glimpse of light in bleak darkness.
When I received the album, I randomly played a song. This song was “Warmth Of You”, a song that instantly caught me in its bittersweet grip. It’s the fourth song on the album and it starts with a thick, fuzzy bassline. The bassline creates an almost droning background noise, while the guitar blends in with a heavily delayed tone that continuously gets louder. As the vocals kick in, one could easily be reminded of Citizen or similar melancholic artists. The singing is immediately cut off as the guitar kicks in with an extremely fuzzy tone, which is reminiscent of what is heard on most doom records. A synth plays continuously in the background, giving the song more contrast and dynamics. As the vocals come back, they use a delay as well as a reverb effect, which makes them feel like they’re spreading out in all directions at once. The song ends with an alternative rock style solo, just for good measure.
Another song that heavily contrasts the aforementioned one is “Somewhere In The Evening”. The song doesn’t play around and goes straight into a distorted, sludgy guitar that drones away, filling the sonic space. Chaotic feedback creeps into the track and vanishes into nothingness as the vocals begin. Speaking of vocals, the vocals are as melancholic as before, both deeper and accompanied by muffled screaming in the background. Around the middle of the song a synth sets in, only this time with a more subtle approach, while serving as ambient background noise that tries to shine through the gritty atmosphere. The track is a must-listen.
There are also tracks, like “(something)” which are purely synth driven and seem to be palate-cleansers in between the atmosphere-heavy tracks.
Below The House is one of the most stylized and catchy black metal releases this year. Planning For Burial has created an album full of memorable titles such as “Threadbare”, and it definitely will speak to a wider audience with its accessible tone and romanticized doom and shoegaze elements. It possesses the catchiness of pop while retaining enough edge to easily be recognized as metal. The mix can sometimes get a little muddy and instruments come off as inaudible at some points throughout the album. Apart from that minor detractor, I enjoyed Planning For Burial’s release quite a lot and I hope that there is a lot more output from them in the future.
Score: 8.5 / 10
Notable Tracks: “Somewhere In The Evening”; “Threadbare”; “Warmth Of You”
FFO: Suffocate For Fucks Sake, Oathbreaker, Ambersmoke