The first few minutes of Panspermia’s opening track, Alkaest, will definitely sort out the real sonic voyagers from the lightweights. A lacerating squall of feedback, drone and garbled insanities, it demands total surrender long before the drums finally kick in at the five- minute mark. In truth, Nibiru have warned us in advance about exactly how deep into the lysergic abyss they like to dive; the Italians’ five previous albums have all made a mockery of most band’s attempts to blow minds, via hulking doom, atonal sludge and ton after ton of abrasive, disorientating noise. Nothing will have prepared the red-eyed faithful for this, however, and it’s slightly alarming to think quite how many hallucinogenic drugs one would have to guzzle to be on the same psychic wavelength as Nibiru themselves.
Even without chemical assistance, the 20-minute Aqua Solis will scrub your brain and soul with equal enthusiasm. This is freeform fearlessness, a slow-motion avalanche of unearthly textures and tones, with the Italians’ ritualistic instincts on full display. But it’s also startlingly extreme, offering no glimmers of light amid this vexed quest for spiritual release. At times, the thick soup of ugly sound feels almost overwhelming, but there’s always another mutant crescendo around the corner, and even spectral shards of melody oozing from the depths to provide a slender link to reality
Again, Nibiru revel in delayed release, spending a full 12 minutes lost in the eye of the overdriven storm before anything resembling music happens. When it does, it’s an eviscerating, thuggish assault: a bad trip that bites back. The closing two tracks keep the anti-cosmic accelerator firmly pinned to the floor, ensuring that Nibiru are now, without question, the most deeply fucked-up and militantly individual band operating in heavy music right now. Feel free to dive in, but don’t say we didn’t warn you.