Noise is guerrilla music. Like the original spirits of black metal, reggae, jazz, punk, and hip-hop, it’s born of a reactionary nature. It scavanges, using the weapons and methods of existing expression and warping them to serve its purpose. It repurposes the tactics of accepted convention and challenges them, adapting and integrating into the auditory battlefields. What makes a guerrilla artist particularly effective is their ability to find that connecting point, that sleeper cell that slips in and provides something to grasp onto, something the listener can identify with and feel sympathy towards (of course, some artists go rogue and get so reactionary that they defy this, but we’ll address that paradox of attrition-by-noise later). It’s a moment of weakness in the hearts of the ones they seek to conquer, that vulnerability that lets all the violence in–the sonic Trojan horse, if you will. (And you will).
The opening track of The Path Unseen, “Blood Magic,” evokes hypnotism though brutality. Indecipherable incantations howl over the straight-sixteenths of the riffs as they hammer primitive trances in tandem with the percussion. It’s clearly a drum machine, but that guerrilla mindset finds new purpose in the drum machine by pushing it beyond the limits of terrestrial capability, both in terms of technicality and deliberately sterile, cold, inhuman delivery. They pump like a robotic mechanism, stretching the human aspect of the guitar hammering like the steam drill verses John Henry–the man-crafted machine forcing man to prove himself against his own inhuman creation. The synths, buried beneath the cacophony of the octopus-stringed assault, slip in like sleeper agents beneath the night cover of the feedback, adding dimension and depth to the track despite its primitive overtones. They only truly reveal themselves at the track’s conclusion, winking to reveal they were there the entire time before delivering the final assassination shot.
For as dystopian as “Blood Magic” feels in its execution, the salvaged humanity certainly bleeds between the ever-turning gears, and that’s the very weakness the Vessel exploits on The Path Unseen.