Ba'al - Ellipsism

30 Oct 2020 - Thorsten

Blackened-Post-Metal | Clobber Records | Release date: 30 Oct 2020

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Northern England can dominate the heavy metal scene - Cult Burial, Hidden Mothers and: Ba’al!

It is always interesting to look at records as a whole – the way their dynamics flow and how the arrangements influence the tension the listener is feeling. With Ba’al’s new record Ellipsism this is definitely very worthwhile as the band from Sheffield, UK, is very adapt at using rhythmic changes to affect us.

When listening to the first song and its thunderous start with loads of black metal-like screaming and swirling guitar lines, the first impression is “Oh, another black metal record!” - but then towards the middle of that first song they take their feet off of the gas pedal and give way to something else.

A new openness changes the song very much towards post-metal and even hints at a harsh form of post-rock. Initial reaction: “Oh, looks who’s hiding something up their sleeves!” The quintet is able to change the mood very carefully with well-tuned small yet effective segments and interludes. This movement in the first song is like a symbol for the structure and arrangement of the whole record as it becomes ‘quieter and quieter’. However, do not worry, Ba’al do not turn the thing into singer-songwriter acoustic guitar campfire songs. This is still blackened post-metal in the vein of bands like Agalloch or Downfall of Gaia.

The only remaining question is to find out the intention – and here the name of the record comes into play. Ellipsism is the inner “sadness that you’ll never be able to know how history will turn out, that you’ll dutifully pass on the joke of being alive without ever learning the punchline”. Well taking this into account it becomes clear why the record slowly evolves from a hurricane to a lament. The initial rage at the inability to know what lies ahead, what comes after death, is giving way to a more inner, introspect repentance of it all. Therefore, the musical passage from a black-metal infused post-metal towards more post-rock, from overwhelming fear to melancholic giving in makes total sense. And that again is reflected in the listener, because one does not have any kind of closure or suture, it simply is never granted. One has to live with the fact that one cannot know. “Oh my, oh my.”

This inability makes the whole thing even sadder and more depressing. The final track “Rosalia” is the perfect way to end an album not centered around loss itself but losing yourself, losing your life, losing hope. Hecate Enthroned-vocalist Joe Stamps is able to lift the song up with all the anger he can muster in the middle of the track for a final aggressive motion before slow near-thrash like guitar lines and the queen of sadness, the strings (cello and violin), bring the track back to its calm-before-the-end melancholy. It’s like following a hero to his hanging thinking that he cannot see his girlfriend ever again for some strange reason and then dying with this internal conviction. The saddest part then is – to see her running around the counter watching him two seconds after his final breath.

Ellipsism might not be the most inventive blackened post-metal record of the year, but it is a good full-length debut for the quintet from the Midlands after two EPs. Last year’s Reverence was already a good hint at what might follow and this full-length will not disappoint fans of Downfall of Gaia, Sons of a Wanted Man or Inter Arma as they are able to give us a convincing debut.