South America is generally better known for its gleefully nasty take on blackened thrash than it is for highbrow black metal. One-man army (although a four-piece band for touring purposes) Selbst is about to readdress that balance with second full-length release, Relatos De Angustia (‘Stories Of Anguish’). After forming the band as a two-piece in 2010, multi-instrumentalist N chose to go solo, escaping the socio-economic turmoil in his native Venezuela and relocated to Santiago, Chile where he continues to operate alone – appropriate for a band whose moniker references philosopher Carl Jung’s individualist concept of the self. It ties in nicely to the mournful introspection that characterises much of Relatos De Angustia, from the consternated dissonance of opener Praeludium bleeding into Deafening Wailing Of The Desperate Ones’ staccato riffs and the keening, trebly leads of The Depths Of Selfishness.
The record’s first half establishes an emotional tone and sonic palette, very much a continuation of what began on 2017’s self-titled release. The hesitancy has been replaced with a palpable sense of confidence as the music flows from introspection to fury and leads reach for the sky as drums rattle breathlessly. The second half offers variation on the formula, The Weight Of Breathing playing with skittish time signatures and towering melodic calamity, while Let The Pain Run Through closes the record in experimental fashion, playing with chorally gothic vocals and maleficent formlessness.
Relatos De Angustia is majestically aloof, with a level of compositional grandeur that instantly places Selbst on equal footing with the finest of Icelandic and French proponents of this kind of grandiose disenfranchisement, but in that sense too, there is isn’t a huge amount to distinguish the record from others of its ilk. Given time it’s likely that Selbst’s upward trajectory will continue, the self-reflection at the core of the project’s subject matter tied increasingly to a singular voice that stands out from the horde.
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