Review: AntreDark Spectrum

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Please welcome Sean Ghoulson, our newest contributor. (He’ll be published under his own username in future articles.)

Antre creates a world of their own with Dark Spectrum, one that illustrates the importance of atmosphere and the darkness of despair.

Building a tangible atmosphere through sound alone is a tough thing to do well. Not only do you have to come damn near close to building a whole world with just sound; you also have to hone the skill to control what said atmosphere is depicting. In actuality, scene-setting through music is a craft itself, especially when balanced with the equally arduous task of portraying emotion, thematic concepts, and whatever else you want your music to depict. Enter black metal, a genre where the atmosphere of an album is so important that there is a whole subgenre titled “atmospheric black metal.” In said subgenre is UK act Antre, who have been making waves in the metalsphere as of late—mostly for their brand of rigid and claustrophobic brand of black metal.

But it’s not enough to just be a dense-sounding atmo-black band in 2020, as black metal is a genre full of similar-sounding bands fighting tooth and nail for a tour spot with groups like Winterfylleth or Wolves in the Throne Room. The difference between your run of the mill black metal act and Antre (other than actually performing with Winterfylleth) lies in the latter’s powerful passion. This isn’t to call other up-and-coming-bands passionless, it’s just that the mark of a truly strong act is being able to clearly convey a burning hunger. Dark Spectrum, the newest release from Antre, is blatant in its writhing pain and intense emotion. Borrowing influences from post-metal’s strung-out songwriting and hardcore’s palpable sincerity, Dark Spectrum builds atmosphere in a way that separates them from their peers – it’s genuine and feverish in a way that reminds me of early Deafheaven mixed with Panopticon.

As for the atmosphere this record builds, I do get a sense of dark longing for an escape of sorts. Maybe it’s from a literal cavern or pit, rich in darkness and confinement, or maybe from a more metaphorical, 2020-esque entrapment. It’s hard to get away from the fact that music released this past year is very reflective of the current, hellish times. Beyond that, I hear a definite desire to crawl out of a hole of negativity and despair—which is a theme that’s hardly exclusive to any particular point in history. Like the spacier or frostier sides of atmo-black, Antre’s most recent EP represents a void in some respect. Rather than a void of life or warmth, Dark Spectrum is empty of sanity and light. 

All this is constructed meticulously, through segments of unrelenting assault (“Become the Damned”) and/or moments of slow-burn agony that resembles a sort of vast emptiness (“Mask of the Saviour”). All in all, Dark Spectrum is the perfect brand of miserable experience that makes one dwell on the atmospherics. A very open and non-linear set of feelings are embedded into the ambiance of this EP; all while still filling each of the four songs with thematic cohesion and killer song structures. The large pool of influences (both inside and outside of metal) and strength of composition lend to the creation of potent world-building, proving that the effort takes to create an auditory landscape is incredibly worth it. It just so happens that Antre created an incredibly despondent world that also illustrates said point.

4/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell

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