Begräbnis – Izanaena
Reviewed: January 2021
Released: 2020, Weird Truth Productions
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
I’m not really sure what’s happening on IZANAENA, but I think I like it?
Japan has long been a creative nexus for all things musically extreme. Be it the mighty metal shred of Loudness, the feral grindcore of S.O.B. or sonic chameleons Boris, there’s a tradition of bands finding their pocket and then pushing those boundaries to their breaking point. The same can certainly be said of Begräbnis with their full length debut IZANAENA.
At its most rote level, the Sendai trio offer a terrifying brand of lo-fi funeral drone – but that’d be a bit dismissive. IZANAENA is ugly, it’s oppressively heavy, and it’s at times unlistenable, but damned if I haven’t kept coming back to it again and again trying to fully understand it. The album’s 4 tracks clock in just under 40 minutes, so you’re definitely getting a full platter of whatever it is that Begräbnis does. And most of it follows a similar trajectory – subterranean, resonant guitar tones that crawl at a snail’s pace combined with monstrous otherworldly (underworldly?) vocal heavings that operate without any sense of musical key. Think early Profanatica or Beherit on 40 oz. of cough syrup and you’re in the general ballpark.
But what the band does with that framework across 40-ish minutes is what draws you in. The opening “Inverted Cross” has early Mortiis like dungeon tendencies (maybe a polite comparison), while “Haniwari” embraces a solitary guitar melody. “Mortuary Cannibalism” is thick and ferocious in its almost traditional death doom trappings, while the closing “Nijigahara” is menacing in its off tempo discordance, while still managing to dip its cloven hoof briefly into somber ambience. In its individual components, it’s a hot mess. In it’s collective vision, it’s a sonic challenge that pushes the boundaries of what constitutes as a “song” to its breaking point.
It’d be easy to dismiss Begräbnis’ compositions as noisy self-indulgent nonsense, and there were for sure moments where I wouldn’t have begrudged that very same sentiment at all. But musical gluttons for punishment who are willing to repeat their journeys into the musical abyss that is IZANAENA may likely find a different listening experience. I’m not bold enough to say that I’ve reached an epiphany point yet, but Begräbnis somehow still keeps drawing me back.