This year brought the inaugural Cassette Store Day, celebrating the cassette-only (or cassette-mostly) subcultures that have sprung up in numerous indie undergrounds. The cassette thing has been going on in black metal for a few years now, and has produced a decent number of really excellent bands and/or collectives, from Grand Rapids, MI’s Colloquial Sound Recordings (home to Stereogum Band To Watch A Pregnant Light) to Brooklyn’s Sibir Records (the imprint run by and for one of our Best New Bands Of 2013, Yellow Eyes). There’s an especially active black metal cassette underground in Southern California, where two of the scene’s most prominent collectives are located, Rhinocervs and Crepusculo Negro. Lake Of Blood doesn’t belong to either of those gangs (they are actually the keystone of the unrelated Cult Of Melancholia collective), but they do hail from the same region, and they are, at present, limiting their releases to the cassette format. But the band’s sophomore album, Omnipotens Tyrannus, doesn’t have the same degraded, ephemeral qualities inherent in so much music produced by this scene: It’s a clean-sounding, purposefully structured collection of big, melodic, ambient black metal. Surely some credit here is due contributor Jef Whitehead, bka Wrest of the seminal American black metal projects Leviathan and Lurker Of Challice, as well as a member of USBM supergroups Twilight, Chrome Waves, and (occasionally) Wrekmeister Harmonies. Here, Wrest provides “massive contributions in all forms (strings, screams/howls, & lyrics),” and he’s joined by Scott Miller of Oakland’s Sutekh Hexen, who contributes “all sounds and noise of paranoia & angst woven in and between songs.” But the involvement of all-stars shouldn’t detract from the work produced by the band itself: The almost-80-minute Omnipotens Tyrannus is an album of tremendous scope and ability, driven primarily by its excellent riffs and multi-textured arrangements. We’ve got the whole thing for you to stream today — no cassette player needed. Check it out.
Order Omnipotens Tyrannus via Cult Of Melancholia.