The Eternal Return
Disciples Of The Watch
Immediately after listening to last year’s Temple Of The Black Star (well, immediately after thinking “damn, that was good!”), I wondered how much of that record’s experimentation with newer woozier and acoustic sounds would bleed over into Distorted Memory’s subsequent work. It was a question we posed to Jeremy Pillipow, and despite his assurance’s that DM wasn’t turning into a witchy band, the mix of sounds he’d struck on seemed too promising to completely abandon. As it turns out, The Eternal Return delivers intermittent but clear traces of Temple‘s outward branching, but interestingly these moments often end up pointing backward to the project’s original roots.
The aggrotech tendencies of Swallowing The Sun have been noticeably tamped down, with the dark electro elements of earlier Distorted Memory material rushing to the fore, and the vocals have Jeremy’s black metal gasp and growl returning with a lot less distortion than an inattentive listener might think. Taken alongside the more hushed and atmospheric sounds from Temple, it’s difficult not to hear that grandaddy of dark electro and the coiner of “endzeit”‘s influence. (My negaverse “if I were a shameless hack” capsule review: “It’s like if ∆AIMON and :wumpscut: met at a rave during the zombie apocalypse! Squibbledy-DOO!”) Somewhat paradoxically, opener “In The Heart Of Your Fire” feels both like the track most influenced by new sounds, as well as the most classically :wump:ish. The laying of plucked classical strings overtop slow beats is something we’ve heard from witchy bands from Prosymna to V▲LH▲LL, but also can’t help but bring old-school jams like “Thorns” to mind.
The Eternal Return isn’t all subtle and funereal pacing and production; at least half of its tunes are upbeat kickers with plenty of floor potential. I’m getting a downright Animotion-esque feel from the stabby organ lead on “Back Away” which put a grin on my face the moment I heard it. While “Back Away” is handily the most infectious, “disco night in a Castlevania level” track, a sense of dancey immediacy is maintained more or less throughout the record. It’s populated with rounded, almost bouncy leads and beats, again, supplanting the more caustic and harsh elements of earlier Distorted Memory work.
It’s both a slicker and more considered Distorted Memory which emerges on The Eternal Return, a band which feels more comfortable working in emotional textures without resorting to pure cliches about evil. In touch with the future of dark music, its trips to earlier eras feel more confident, more relaxed. A mature listen which doesn’t ever cease to entertain, it handily addresses our previous “what next?” concerns, and then some.