It’s difficult to have a straightforward conversation about Ævangelist, not just because the band doesn’t write straightforward music. Sure, otherworldliness has been a piece of death metal history for a long time—see the molten hellscapes of Morbid Angel or the eldritch nether realm of Séance’s Fornever Laid to Rest. And sure, death metal’s gotten a bit weirder after almost two decades of huffing Gorguts’ Obscura and whatever dissonant shit is in Deathspell Omega’s aerosol cans. But, even in a post-Ulcerate, Portal, Blood Incantation world, Ævangelistsound like they’re on some next-level psychedelics on their new album, Matricide in the Temple of Omega, premiering below.
The duo, comprised of vocalist Ascaris and multi-instrumentalist Matron Thorn, take the genre’s lineage and run it through a fucking blender. They have no allegiance to ‘true’ anything. Don’t like triggered drums? These artificial snares sound like someone getting hit with a bolt pistol. Don’t like non-metal influences? They’ll write a 20-minute song with an extended trip-hop break. They’re releasing their new album through lauded label I, Voidhanger, whose modus operandi seems to be “find the most off-the-wall shit we can dig up and put it in gorgeous packaging,” and even among that label’s roster, this is harrowing stuff.
Usually dissonant death metal just makes me want to put my head through a windshield, but when Ævangelist do it, I can’t help but be enraptured by the sheer fuck-you of it all. Yes, the amount of variety they stuff into a super-samey style helps, but there’s a deeper element.
I like this band, but they do things that even I, as an avowed fan, someone who has been evangelized (Ævangelized?) don’t totally like. This is probably their dirtiest sounding record, and there’s more than a few moments on it that sound relatively straightforward by the band’s standards. That doesn’t matter, though—you’re not supposed to ‘like’ this stuff. You’re supposed to worship it. You’re not supposed to ‘understand’ it. You’re supposed to understand that it’s not meant to be understood and love it not in spite of that but because of that.
Sure, there’s an element of H. P. Lovecraft’s madness-inducing vision that’s alluded to, or at least an obvious inspiration, but if Ævangelist’s music were a movie, the protagonists wouldn’t run from the tentacled elder gods, they’d offer up their orifices for an extended adults-only Japanese animation-style happy ending. Because in the end you are the multitendrilled lust demon and also the willing supplicant at the same time experiencing itself subjectively, and so the ‘fuck you’ is maybe more literal than it originally appeared … maybe?
But that’s just my interpretation. Ascaris has shared some of her lyrics with me, but I’m choosing to leave what I’ve gleaned about them out of this write-up. She’s been open with sharing her story in this must-read interview with Indy Metal blog, wherein she discusses transitioning, literary theory, speaking French, and the fact that she and Matron Thorn don’t even see eye to eye on what exactly the concept of the band is all the time. Normally I wouldn’t link to someone else’s work on a piece of art that I myself am reflecting on, but that’s an excellent article, and Ascaris’ stories and ideas are more well-relayed out of her mouth than my own, and they’re also in some way central to what makes Ævangelist what it is.
From my perspective, what she and Matron Thorn are doing with Ævangelist isn’t a discography, it’s a multi-album treatise on the idea that the most wicked, occult, apocalyptic thing that someone can do, maybe, is love themselves—but that’s already a step too far.
Remember, you’re not supposed to get it. You’re supposed to forget all this, scroll down another quarter of an inch, hit the play button, and just adore it anyway.
Matricide in the Temple of Omega is out tomorrow, 11/16, on I, Voidhanger. Pre order it here.