Reviewed: [June 2020]
Released [2020 Bloody Mountain Records]
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Matthew Schott has become something of his own extreme metal cottage industry in the mountains of northern California. When he isn’t busy drumming with cult heroes Valdur, Schott has several fairly active solo projects in Garden of Hesperides (where he goes by Vasara) and Sxuperion (where he goes by Sxuperion or just mysterious Matthew), all while operating Bloody Mountain Records that is home to all three of the bands.
His most recent effort is the fifth full-length in six years from Sxuperion. And, as with Garden of Hesperides, it is a solo project in every sense of the term, as he handles pretty everything, top to bottom – or, as the promo blurb for Omniscient Pulse notes: “all interstellar hyper-cannons, 4 and 6 string theory frequencies, cosmic poetry, deep-space esophagus oscillations, light-speed effects development, control-panel mixing, and final irreligious design.” So there you have it.
Sxuperion offers an unusual, but captivating concoction of black metal/grindcore ferocity, death metal grit and heft, and ambient/progressive expanse, although Omniscent Pulse is perhaps the most concise effort since the 2014 full-length debut Through Cosmic Corridors. Save for the furious 6-minute opener “Owl” and the nearly 9-minute slog-and-sprint finale “Myopian Frequency Release,” the songs are relatively compact and seem geared more for impact than atmosphere.
Even so, with their smattering of dialogue and meditative conclusions, songs like “Presque-Vu” or the otherwise buzz-sawing title track still provide ample atmosphere, while “A New Universe Awaits (Burning The Cloth)” is essentially three minutes of industrial clattering. For impact’s sake, Sxuperion offers a steady diet of grinding, cascading riffs, bulldozing bottom end and sub-guttural vocals that border on brutal death metal, but – thankfully – without the pukiness or piggy squeals. The rough-and-tumble sound here is heavy and dense to the point of smothering.
Noticeable in their near complete absence, though, are the standard black metal shrills and trills. Yet they are hardly missed. By sticking to death metal’s lower frequencies, Sxuperion deliver weightiness and menace that make the effects all the more, well, effective, especially at the very end with the recitation of the final stanza of T.S. Eliot’s chilling poem “The Hollow Men:” “This is the way the world ends, This is the way the world ends, This is the way the world ends, Not with a bang but a whimper.” Which sounds about right, if our present situation is any indication.