When it comes to the Tasmanian black metal scene, this writer’s extent of knowledge revolves around the one-man project known as Striborg who was featured in a documentary entitled “One Man Metal”, presented by Noisey and Vice.
Within the documentary, the sole member, Sin Nanna (, aka Russell Menzies) discussed his adoration for the abrasive music and the culture which surrounds it. Interestingly he spoke in depth about his adoration for Tasmania with its exquisite environment and his deep affection for the solitary escapism of existence. Nanna lives in the small town of Snug.
During the film, he guides the presenter and his crew through some magnificent forest lands and scenery where the show finally ends with him in a dreary cave in full facial corpse paint. Here he summons otherworldly voices by candle light engraving his conviction and authenticity as a true black metal artist, and to a degree cementing Tasmania’s black presence in the process.
Blissfully (in a rather contradictory sense considering the genre) for this scribe, a band by the name of Départe, emerged from The Apple Isle with their debut album entitled “Failure, Subside” on the French extreme metal label, Season Of Mist.
Furthermore, upon one thorough listen to the seven tracks of post-blackened death metal on offer here, the slogan of “The Island Of Inspiration” receives its justification–this is world class metal.
The opener, Seas Of Glass, sets the tone rather faultlessly, in a metaphoric sense. It is as if the listener is observing the sea which is abnormally calm before the storm. Ashes In Bloom then strikes with the almost unbearable force of blackened death metal, parts of which would have Geelong’s The Red Shore recall their prestigious past, as well as Wolves In The Throne Room raising their ears in attention to Départe’s outstanding near-orchestral arrangements.
Throughout the LP the quartet has brilliantly embellished post-metal constituents a la Russian Circles, with a touch of funeral-doom guided by Esoteric. This formula is showcased exquisitely on Wither.
The haunting elements of the record come via the melodic singing parts, which become an eery bewilderment not too dissimilar to a funeral service, traumatic yet hopeful in their sorrow.
Album closer Ruin, the longest track, is the most adventurous. Incorporating all elements that the four-piece have in their arsenal and as peculiar as this comparison may read, if the bear which attacks Hugh Glass in The Revenant had a soundtrack for its life, this song would capture it ideally.
This will most likely be an unknown fact, but more than 42 per cent of Tasmania is World Heritage Area, made up of national parks and marine or forest reserves.
What Départe have achieved here with “Failure, Subside” is a beautifully evil musical score to their elegant landscape soundings and it demands global recognition.