Occultation – Three & Seven (Profound Lore, 2012)

I don’t get the “female fronted occult rock” trend that has come out of the metal underground in the past few years.  To these ears, there’s nothing even remotely evil, let alone “occult” about ripping off Jefferson Airplane, Fleetwood Mac and Heart.  Okay, this is the part where someone brings up Coven and I roll my eyes.  I’m not saying the music is particularly bad, it just isn’t my thing, and it definitely isn’t Satanic. I mean, isn’t it really just revisiting the hippie-dippy horseshit that early heavy metal set out to stomp to bits at the end of the ’60’s, only with a quasi-diabolic lyrical bent?

That’s where NYC’s Occultation comes in.  The trio has been lumped into this occult rock movement, but the truth is that they’re the only band of this ilk that actually sounds occult.  Their debut album, Three & Seven, absolutely destroys the competition by creating a thick, hazy atmosphere; it’s a seriously arcane-sounding slab of psychedelia that owes little if anything at all to the ’60s, while still being hypnotic and hallucinatory.  Much of this lysergic atmosphere is thanks to Negative Plane guitarist Nameless Void (billed here as EMM), who supplies guitar and organ for Occultation.  His guitar tone sounds like insects swarming underwater, part black metal and part surf, lending the music an otherworldly character when combined with the simple rhythms and ghostly singing of bassist MAL and drummer V.  Indeed, the vocals and instruments work in unison to transform Three & Seven into a doomed, droning aural miasma that’s quite unlike anything you’ve ever heard.

The production scheme employed by Occultation here is appropriately murky and drenched in reverb, adding to the overall atmosphere of the album without turning the instruments into indistinguishable mush.  Occultation borrow the sonic aesthetic of black metal and apply it to music that is quite far removed from the genre to great and interesting effect; Three & Seven is dark and sinister but also strangely pretty.  It’s a surreal mixture of the feminine, the devilish and the psychedelic that epitomizes how this genre is supposed to sound; Rosemary’s Baby recast as a malignant musical opium dream.

With Three & Seven, Occultation have crafted nearly forty minutes of truly esoteric music; it isn’t quite rock, nor is it entirely metal, but rather something uniquely its own.  The trio taps into something primal, something far beyond the quasi-Satanic flower power silliness that characterizes the rest of the bands they’re being mentioned in the same breath as of late, something those other bands could never even begin to understand.  Timelessly, tirelessly cult.

http://www.profoundlorerecords.com/

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7 thoughts on “Occultation – Three & Seven (Profound Lore, 2012)

  1. @steve57 – Looks like we’ll have to agree to disagree on this style, as The Devil’s Blood does nothing for me… I guess I need to see them live? I think the main attraction for me re: Occultation is Nameless Void’s guitar playing/sound.

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  2. Hmmm, compelled by your review I’ve listened to this through 3 times and it just doesn’t do much for me, liked the drumming I suppose, but the rest was just dirge to my ears. Shame cos it sounded like it was going to be right up my street.

    And if we’re talking “female fronted occult rock”: The Devil’s Blood. End Of. I’ve seen them live 3 times now and they’ve destroyed me every time. Stunning band, even if the last album didn’t live up to my (impossibly high) expectations.

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  3. @Morbid Tales 13 – I don’t hear much of a seventies influence here… if anything, the guitar work with its use of tremolo picking and “wet” reverb recalls surf music (albeit a rather dark and twisted take) which has its roots in the late fifties and early sixties, a bit removed from the “hippie” stuff that came later. The song structures don’t exactly scream seventies to me either… Also, throwing “hipster” around at this point is a pretty lazy criticism, methinks. Thanks for reading and weighing in.

    @FMA – Thanks for the kind words. I too think the guitar playing sets well apart from the other bands attempting this style. Nameless Void essentially is doing the same thing here that he does in Negative Plane… it’s interesting that his style works so well in such different contexts, though I’ll admit that I’ve never been able to fully get into NP, I do appreciate his unique approach and I’m sure I’ll come around to them eventually.

    @Sully – I’ve listened to this and The Devil’s Blood’s last album and I don’t hear much similarity, but maybe I’m just hearing what I want to hear. I’m certainly open to different takes on this stuff, provided they’re well reasoned.

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  4. Oh! Devil’s Blood with extra reverb and delay!!!
    Every time I hear one of these bands, all I can think of is “The Wicker Man”. And not the one with Christopher Lee…

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  5. Great review.

    @Morbid Tales: Really? Those weird-ass guitars don’t do anything to distinguish them?

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  6. Nothing separates this band from the other 70’s rock occult bands other than a heightened sense of effemininity and amazingly awful vocals.This is just another female fronted hippie rock band with childish occult lyrics to add to the steaming hipster pile.

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