By Nathanas Trismegistus
Porta Nigra – “Schöpfungswut” (meaning unknown; though, schöpfung is German for “creation”); released January 17, 2019 by Soulseller records. If the term “avant-garde” has ever been misplaced… well, it was probably less accurate when attributed to Havohej’s latest release, but it’s still inappropriate for this album. It seems that all you have to do to get labeled “avant-garde” is to use pretentiously vague and meaningless song titles and lyrics and to use artwork inspired by some obscure era in the past which has hitherto been neglected by contemporary metal (it doesn’t matter, just pick one). I get that skulls and inverted crosses are beyond cliché at this point, but at least it’s honest. Nobody’s fooling anyone (successfully) with skulls and inverted crosses. I mean, just look at this album cover. Have you seen anything more pretentious? I’m sure Porta Nigra are really patting themselves on the back, going about their tour or whatever telling everyone that its “open to interpretation.”
I had never listened to anything produced by Porta Nigra before this. I had heard of them, though. Evidently, they are a German outfit creating what they call “decadent dark metal”, despite the fact that they often use French terminology and symbology. They seem to be preoccupied with the contrast and hollow, gilded nature of supercilious, affluent high society with the proximal debauchery and degradation of larger European societies at the end of the 20th century.
But who gives a shit? What’s the music like? Well, I’m sorry to say the music isn’t much deeper than their album art and themes. This is near kindergarten levels of musical composition. I’ve never heard anything so basic called “avant-garde”. The melodies are absolutely inane, insipid, saccharine, sickly sweet and rotten (a lot like a moldy strawberry, incidentally), lifeless, uninspired. The drums are static and stagnant, lock-step, alternating blast beats and tom rolls. The mix is fine, but it does have that absolutely hideous, over-compressed, digital quality which is becoming more and more prevalent these days.
If I could say anything positive about this album, it is that the vocals are very rhythmic and varied. They’re not my style of vocals, but they are poignant and aggressive. I don’t know what they’re saying as I don’t speak German. Putting the song titles in Google translate clarified very little. The opening track probably had the best and most interesting songwriting. It really took a nosedive after that though. And I mean, 2008 housing market crash levels of plummeting.
Apparently, this release was limited to 300 copies, per format. I mean, the audacity to have such a limited release; like you’re part of some sort of exclusive club for high-brow musical intellectuals for purchasing this rubbish. (On the bright side, I really can’t complain since so little plastic was wasted on this lofty mound of goat shit.) Soulseller, you can keep them all. This album is tripe. It’s shallow. It’s unimaginative. It was like listening to an amateur guitarist aimlessly running through their major scales in their bedroom while their parents argued in the other room. Utter waste of time. Not recommended. Not essential.
But maybe that’s the point, man. You just don’t get it. Life is – like – so devoid of meaning, dude. It speaks to the flaws of the empty, mindless consumerism of our Western capitalist imperialist hegemonies.
Eat shit and die.