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Album Review: RORCAL Creon

Posted by on April 22, 2016 at 3:15 pm

They should have been anointed three years ago, when Világvége was dropped on largely unsuspecting ears, but Swiss band Rorcal have not doubled down on their bid for torchbearers of the experimental metal scene with this Spring's Creon. Whereas Világvége contained a sense of direct immediacy – a pretty straightforward mix of traditional black metal and experimental hardcore – Creon demands a bit more active engagement from the listener. Consisting of four tracks, all over 11 minutes long, Rorcal don't so much abandon the black metal template as expand upon it, creating epic free-form workouts still based on actual riffs rather than atmosphere, but with a raw ferocity that dwarfs most of their peers in the extreme avantgarde realm.

Reportedly taped live over the course of three back-to-back sessions, Creon is that rare beast that combines seemingly improvised arrangements within a fairly structured framework. Opening track "Πολυνείκης" is representative of the talent on display here, ostensibly all over the place in terms of progression yet deceptively tight in execution: there's really no fat to be had here, no directionless unwinding where the band seems to lose momentum and struggles to rudder the ship, a common complaint when it comes to this type of all out assault on convention (including, to some extent, some of Rorcal's own early output).

Vocalist Yonni Chapatte is arguably the band's secret weapon, his pipes absolutely unflagging in throat-shredding savagery. Creon's theme is the death narrative of several characters from Greek mythology, lending a simpatico bombast to the music's exhaustive narrative. As well recorded as this album is – courtesy Stéphane Kroug – Creon should appeal to black metal purists who feel like there's been little of interest since the second wave petered out, although it would be selling these guys short to call them a black metal band per se. Nonetheless, there is little in that genre that does a better job of stripping away the glossier excesses of the more technical black metal bands of the 90's than the more breakneck portions of "Αἵμων".

"Εὐρυδίκη" closes things out on a slower, exploratory doom tangent, and by that point Rorcal have either convinced you that they're as adept at this stuff as anyone in the business… or you just weren't listening. When the track finally launches into pure blast beat bliss about halfway through, drummer Ron Lahyani has established himself as a compensatory force to be reckoned with alongside Chapatte's laudatory vocals. Scratching all itches from black metal to doom to speculative hardcore with even occasional hints of the more gothic side of extreme metal, Creon manages to be all things to everyone without sacrificing urgency or vision. Not one to be slept on, which you will no doubt  be reminded of come December when these pages are inundated with unanimous year-end accolades.

Score: 9.5/10

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