http://www.metal-archives.com/reviews/Self-Inflicted_Violence/A_Perception_of_Matter_and_Energy/238635/Perplexed_SjelFrom every corner of Britain and Ireland there are black metal bands who are collectively offering the fans some peace of mind. Not only is this area of the world offering some of the most unique modern day bands, but they’re also supplying them in abundance. Like rescue operatives from a far off nation, these bands are offering aid to people in places where the scene might be almost completely devoid of talent. From the potentially ground breaking up-and-coming acts like Altar of Plagues, to the already established stars of Fen and Skaldic Curse, Britain seems to be offering everyone something they can fully immerse themselves in and listen to in a perpetual state of euphoria. Inexperience doesn’t seem to matter when you have bags of talent and, as well as those aforementioned bands, we have others who are well on their way to stardom as well, even in these early stages of their careers. A relatively new band on the scene who fall straight into this category are Self-Inflicted Violence. With the arrival of their debut, entitled ‘A Perception Of Matter And Energy’, the Lincolnshire based duo have put themselves on the global black metal map and also help to continue drawing in the recent surge of tourists to these small islands, one’s which boast a surprising amount of superb giants.
Though Britain and Ireland do have their share of superfluous time wasters, the general consensus seems to be that we’re definitely punching above our weight given the strength of the scenes in fellow European nations, one’s which have been strong for many, many years. There is a diversity here which tends to evoke an overwhelming feeling of a lack of national identity. Most nations seem to have their own particular sound, a way of doing things whereby onlookers can throw them into certain stereotypical groups and judge them accordingly. For example, France has been well documented for its impact on the raw sub-genre of black metal, boasting a tremendous amount of bands in that one area and making it their own. Britain however does not have this. Whilst one or two bands may sound similar and fit into certain spectrums, there doesn’t seem to be a general correlation between bands with which we listeners can say, “this is your sound”. Self-Inflicted Violence are continuing a trend which is difficult for reviewers to follow, a trend whereby bands in this region don’t seem to follow any traditional trend within the genre.
Due to their lyrical themes, perhaps due to old material (of which I have not heard), the band have been labelled as a depressive black metal act but, for once, I do not see an ounce of that sub-genre in this record. As I’ve said in other reviews, I think it’s easy to tarnish bands with the same brush. Due to the influx in depressive bands, it’s easy to place that genre tag upon any band who even slightly resembles another in that area of black metal. However, one could say, perhaps pretentiously, that Self-Inflicted Violence are beyond genre descriptions. There are elements to their music which reminds me of a number of genres, from post-rock, to shoegaze, to ambient black metal and beyond that. To loosely place a tag upon their music would be unjustifiable and wrong. From the very beginning of ‘A Perception Of Matter And Energy’, Self-Inflicted Violence go about scathing the walls of genre boundaries and setting themselves up as an entity untouched by the dirty hands of genre descriptions. Somewhat akin to Altar of Plagues, somewhat akin to Slowdive, Self-Inflicted Violence don’t make it instantly clear who they’re influenced by, but the direction still seems clear.
‘Liquids’ begins our journey in an odd fashion. Whilst pertaining to clichés like rain samples, they completely destroy the idea that they’re a one dimensional band by playing the most unique, ambient sound over the top of the introduction to this song and this record. Immediately I knew that this was a band who would have me hooked and that would have me second guessing what I believed I knew about them. As the standardised black metal guitars and percussion sets in, Self-Inflicted Violence always manage to distance themselves from the idea of being generic and without innovation. The vocalist, although slightly more rasping, reminds me of the vocalist of Altar of Plagues. He has a strong voice which echoes into the distance of my mind and lingers in the back of my thoughts for hours after having heard the material. The instrumentation has the same affect. It starts off rather cautiously, but when in full swing, it is mercilessly beautiful, like an exotic woman who knows she can take what she wants from you, emotionally and physically.
Records like this are dangerous to me because they can easily become addictive. Not only does it appeal to my love for repetitive black metal, it also appeals to my sense of diversity, offering ambient textures on all songs that reminds me of shoegaze music, or post-rock, or some other outside factor. ‘Liquids’, in particular, is a song which utilises this diversity extremely well. Half way through the black metal musings, an entrancing guitar lead starts and transfixes the listener onto it like a moth to the light. The lead of this song reminds me of some of Slowdive’s work, particularly ‘Avalyn II’, which I believe featured on one of their live compilations. It drifts into eternity like my mind when I’m on a long train journey watching life whiz by me. The transfixing doesn’t end here because songs like ‘Artificial Phenomenon’ have their own entrancing melodies courtesy of the wonderful song writing which sees all elements play a pivotal role, and yes, that even includes the bass and vocals. The vocals, though seemingly moulded around normal styles, offer a juxtaposition to the delicate ambient sections which reflects upon them brilliantly, giving them a feeling of freshness despite the fact that they’re quite obviously standard vocals. Alongside these whimsical ambient soundscapes, any vocals would have worked just as well. In conclusion, Self-Inflicted Violence are a continuation of the good vibes coming out of Britain and Ireland at the moment. The future is certainly looking bright for black metal with bands like this.