Tabs Out | Penance Stare – Solanaceae

Penance Stare – Solanaceae

2.6.19 by Ryan Masteller

Does atmospheric black metal with goth and shoegaze aspirations get a bad rap today? I mean, there’s pretty much only one band that comes to mind when we’re talking about this in conjunction with “bad raps,” and that’s Deafheaven. Real talk: I’ve always been a Deafheaven fan (more so their early stuff), but man, they really seem to get thrown under the bus a lot these days.

Penance Stare is not Deafheaven, not even remotely, but that’s not a bad place to start the discussion. It’ll help orient you – and I know there are some of you out there (not me, obvs), who are like, “Black metal? Isn’t that Satanic music? Isn’t it just a maelstrom of noise and hate?” And I’ll respond with, “‘Maelstrom of noise and hate’? There’s no way you’re smart enough or articulate enough to come up with such a poetic thought. You’re quite misinformed, and you also live in the 1980s, probably at the evangelical church I grew up attending and have now outgrown. But to answer you, briefly: no.”

Tangent aside, Penance Stare, the solo (!) moniker of UK-based shredder Esmé Louise Newman is a heavy affair – heavy atmosphere that is. Utilizing definite shoegaze tropes (those guitar tones) and post-rock progressions, Newman builds up worlds of static and fuzz and shatters them with machine-gun beats and dissonant breakdowns on her new album “Solanaceae.” Her voice floats above it all, Cocteau Twins style, in a gentle counterpoint. She even drifts (literally!) into ambient territory near the end of the tape, with “The Remains of the Wooden Icebreaker Lie Submerged” sounding exactly like the title implies, following that with another dense and frigid slab of drone with “Bensedin Petrichor.”

In short: beautiful, heavy, intense. Edition of 50 from Crow Versus Crow.


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