“Endless, Aimless, Ruthless Power,” the second track of three on Lux Absentia’s debut, Antignosis, works because of black metal formulas. First, not a put down. Second, Lux goes way too hard to be called formulaic, charging past any mediocrity that word now encompasses. “Power,” however, does ride a familiar wave. If you’ve listened to black metal long enough, and this sort of spartan substyle has certainly been around long enough, you have a sense for the typical rise and fall of a solid composition. Some bands treat that formula as the truth, others spend careers trying to subvert it. The good ones do both. That’s where we find Lux: fulfilling and tweaking expectations, balancing what’s interesting (read: new) with what’s listenable (read: established).
Beginning with a blast, “Power” soon leaves deeper bruises with a slower, more forceful beat. These two parts set up the song’s push and pull for the next seven minutes: dizzying, speedy flurries offset by meatier riffs that sit closer to the pocket. Rug pulled, footing regained; rinse, repeat. Again, expectations fulfilled. But, considering this sort of black metal is more about maximalizing minimalism, it’s fitting that what makes Lux unique is found in the details. Detail number one with a bullet belt: those guitars. With a tone that’s more Azagthothian solo than all-treble-eveything, “Power” sounds like someone sicking a billion vicious miter saws upon a planetary-sized ball of heavy gauge strings. That metal-on-metal, sort of spacey tone turns any dip into dissonance addictively sour. Because of that, the guitars kick up a hell of an atmosphere, which helps the other elements — gale-like drumming, wild-eyed howling — sound uncomfortably legit. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the riffs are eminently hummable. Oh, and big picture: “Power” flat out rips. That’s, uh, worth mentioning, too.
Lux Absentia is the solo project of New Jersey’s TG who is now making his third appearance on Stereogum this year following Black Market nods to Death Fortress (a trio) and Replicant (a quartet). That’s a sneaky impressive run, especially considering that each outfit has its own sound. TG is on to something. Naturally, Fallen Empire, a label with an ear for this stuff, knows it, bringing Lux Absentia into its already impressive stable. And why wouldn’t they? Antignosis is an example of something well-worn still retaining that first-time spark. Not a bad way to make a debut. Listen.
Antignosis is out soon via Fallen Empire.