Rorcal - Silence review
|Release date:||September 2023|
01. Early Mourning
02. Childhood Is A Knife In The Throat
03. The Worst In Everything
04. Extinguished Existence
05. Hope Is A Cancer
06. Constant Void
07. Under The Nails
08. No Alleviation, Even In Death
Just over a year ago, I mused that “there’s enough bands doing ‘sludgy blackened hardcore’ music that one wonders if it’s time to make a definitive name for their niche”. As of yet, I’ve not heard anyone coin a winning term for this wicked concoction of sonic violence, but whenever someone eventually does, Rorcal have already created one of the standout releases in this as-yet-unnamed subgenre in the form of Silence.
Rorcal have already received quite a bit of positive attention from the Metal Storm staff; SSUS waxed lyrical about Világvége and the split with Process Of Guilt, while Apothecary enjoyed the group’s previous effort, 2019’s Muladona. However, the group have evolved over the course of these records (and not just due to the song titles evolving from numerals on Világvége to full sentences on Muladona); Rorcal have always been punishingly heavy, but early efforts such as Világvége were more in the form of harsh and crushing blackened sludge doom/post-metal. 2016’s Creon kept the long songs from its predecessors but shifted towards black metal, while Muladona reintroduced the sludgy ugliness but in more concise and belligerent songs. On Silence, that belligerence has arguably been dialled even further up.
This isn’t an exercise in pure viciousness, however; Silence supports my sentiment from the Hexis review I linked at the beginning that “bands need to offer more than just auditory venom to stand out”. When the dissonant blackened hardcore savagery is unleashed, Rorcal are a force of destruction, but they also remember the virtues of space, texture and tension in music from their Világvége days, and having this versatility in the locker really helps the more all-out violent songs to have a heightened impact.
Looking for examples of those vicious cuts, “Childhood Is A Knife In The Throat” and “Hope Is A Cancer” are strong demonstrations of Rorcal’s brutality, with hoarse roars, emphatic drumming and fiery dissonant tremolo riffs coming together as storms of sound. Neither track is relentless in terms of pace; while there’s plenty of blasting, the group also slow things down for oppressive, cacophonic sonic beatdowns. The closing stages of “Hope Is A Cancer” in particular make for a wonderfully demented headbang, as the compelling guitar riffs are gradually overwhelmed by collapsing noise and subtle ambience.
The fury of songs such as these two and “Under The Nails” (almost a non-stop onslaught of dissonant blasting) is electrifying, but it is in other songs that Silence reaches towards true greatness. Opener “Early Mourning” offers early hints of what Rorcal might be capable of; while it is a heavy and intense song, there’s a certain depth to the textures in the opening minute that hints at tones within the band’s arsenal beyond pure suffocating heaviness, and while the subsequent leap into “Childhood Is A Knife In The Throat” maybe makes it seem like this might be a false dawn, the longer songs later on the record offer eventual payoff.
“Extinguished Innocence” is a slow, bleak callback to the post-black blueprints that were developed on Világvége; blackened tones permeate around the ponderous, crushing density of the central rhythm driving the track, and the vocals eschew full-throated roars in favour of ominous, reverberating shouts akin to what Nero Di Marte have used at times. The drop in pace and incorporation of significant dynamic contrasts across the song (as a very muted mid-song interlude serves as a preamble before a brutal pounding by rolling double bass patterns and dense walls of sound) really expands the range of Silence after the initial battering the preceding songs deliver. “Constant Void” is a tad more vicious, but it again reaps the rewards of veering away from blackened hardcore harshness in favour of a more expansive yet imposing sludge/post-metal approach in its crawling, densely layered and all-consuming second half.
The record is rounded off with the 9-minute “No Alleviation, Even In Death”, which offers the closest thing that Silence gets to anything remotely resembling silence; an ominous industrial-tinged ambient opening hints at the bleak, trudging, dissonant sludge devastation that this apocalyptic conclusion has in store. This album feels somewhat like Rorcal finally finding how best to balance the misanthrophic post-metal of Világvége, the black metal of Creon and the noisy aggression of Muladona into an all-encompassing beast of a record, and if that was their intention, they’ve absolutely succeeded; Silence is gratifying in its extremity and overwhelmingly heavy in its atmosphere.
||Written on 27.09.2023 by Hey chief let's talk why not|
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