While a fledgling collaboration (with only one previous release, a tape on the Accidental Guest imprint) between André Foisy (Locrian, Land of Decay label), Neil Jendon (of former shoegaze godz Catherine), and Mike Weis (Zelienople) might seem like a random, supergroup-style smattering of in-demand indie artists, there’s a thread to be found between the three of them. Jendon, long freed of his Catherine obligations, has been releasing frosty tapes on Foisy’s Land of Decay label, while Weis deals in drones in the Windy City, as Foisy, to some extent, does. So the collaboration is less a happy coincidence than a gathering of like-minded individuals cut from the same holy cloth, the results skewing closest to Jendon’s heady solo material of the last year or two.
Make All the Hell of Dark Metal Bright is an apt title for a record replete with New Age-y guitar sprinkles, primitive drum-machine accompaniment, wistful piano, and sci-fi synths, and perhaps serves as a warning for those coming into the Kwaidan fold with weighted expectations. Although there is a sinister darkness lingering on the edges, this is light years away from both black metal-influenced Locrian releases like Territories and satanic drone-metal merchants like, say, Sutekh Hexen. Even those keytar-heavy Circle Of Ouroboros records of late sound like Darkthrone compared to what Kwaidan attempt through this collaboration.
It’s a disorganized-sounding collection of tones that, when heard from a distance, somehow make sense together. “Evening Bell” carries the aura of an approaching storm heard from the inside of a house, where you and your tense family are waiting to see if you’ll be spared the brunt of the lumbering, temperamental beast. The floorboards rattle and picture frames fall off the walls, but you’re frozen in place, petrified by potential impending doom. “Gateless Gate” is more of a rhythmic animal, guided by taps and thumps rather than ribbons of drone, though at first I’m reminded of Indiana Jones with a back covered in tarantulas. “Ostension” is the most familiar gesture, registering somewhere between a Comoros (Fedora Corpse) release and a drift the sun never touches. Another example of vague yet far-reaching aims that come together enough to make sense as a whole.
As Locrian prepare their new album for Relapse, fans of theirs looking for a stylistic detour — in a career full of them — will find comfort in Make All the Hell of Dark Metal Bright, though there are several releases (their split with Mamiffer, the aforementioned Territories LP, the Rain of Ashes tape, Foisy’s After the Prophecy tape) that serve as superior guides for the uninitiated.