Stagnant Waters
Stagnant Waters

Trust me, there is nothing Stagnant about the debut from  this avant garde black metal French-Norwegian collaboration. On a label run by a guy with ties to the likes of  Mayhem, Darkthrone, Ulver, Ved Buens Ende, Virus, Fleurety, Ihsahn, Arcturus, Manes and Solefald and featuring Svein Egil Hatlevik of Fleurety and Dødheimsgard fame, you might have some idea of the sonic mindfuck that Stagnant Waters deliver, but you’d only be scraping the surface.

Stagnant Waters is one of the more jarring yet brilliant releases I have heard in quite some time. Take a dash of all the above artists , a pinch of  Thorns, Aborym, Havoc Unit, early Annal Naathrakh and Pan Thy Monium (by way of some completely off kilter Clarinet/Sax use), and throw into an industrial black metal vat of molten steel, and dive in. Yeah- your skin will melt off.

At times, Stagnant Waters, is a complete clusterfuck of industrialized noise and discordant black metal, but at times its a contemplative, experimental catharsis, and its this mix that highlights exactly what experimental and avant-garde can truly be in extreme music, especially when the term is thrown around like Lindsey Lohan in an NBA locker room. It’s not a piece meal samples or fx, or Clarinet segment,  or chaos for chaos’s sake, its an amalgamation of elements and sounds that are precisely rendered and delivered with one of the genre experts (Hatlevik).

Stagnant Waters has to be either absorbed as a whole or in small doses. There’s no catchy riffs or moments to relive, but by the same token, the album’s 45 minute run time can border on grating. The almost continual assault of guitar driven dissonance, pummeling mechanical beats, robotic screeches and shouts and then topped off by John Zorn on crack levels of Jazzy insanity, and the recipe is there for a complete mess. But just when it gets really close to being too much, too unsettling and too chaotic, there’s s just a slight break by way of some hypnotic drone, or ambient, Clarinet segment to just let you catch your breath.

Such as transition occurs between complete sonic havoc of ” CCAEP UHANRN NHON TAT” and the thankful, repetitive buzz and beats to start “Of Salt and Water’,after the sheer insanity of the previous track, its just enough respite to get your shit together and brace for the impending industrial cauterization of the tracks eventual spiral into robo-choral–orchestral mayhem.  The start of “Castles”  has some fucking crazy but brilliant melodies, that boldly show there is riffs and structures out there that haven’t been done yet, but it transitions into some haunting, off key but welcome piano work, do bring you back from the edge. However, the spazzed out Clarinet burst of the brief but chaotic track “Concrete” pushes you right back.

It’s by about penultimate track “Axolotl”, especially at 10 minutes in length, that even I start to wear down and reach for something slightly less jarring. But I grit it out and withstand the batshit schizophrenic transitions between a xylophone, beeping, whirring samples, robotic gang chants, french spoken words, psychotic violins and an oddly hypnotic dubsteb/techno beat. Yeah, all that is in this single track. Thankfully, closer “From the Breaking Neck to Infinity” sort of settles down into a slightly more traditional riff based,  industrial black metal salvo, with a cool little cyber breakdown of sorts early on before the track closes out with 3 minutes of blasts, beeps, bloops and whirrs.

Stagnant Waters is not an easy listen, and its one of the more challenging releases of the last few years, so buyer beware. However, those willing to give this a go and stick with it might find themselves finding out that the line between insanity and genius is indeed very thin.


[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
December 3rd, 2012


  1. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    sounds rad as fuck

  2. Commented by: Dan Obstkrieg

    Nice review, Erik. Yeah, this album really defies description or explanation, but it’s a tremendously creative mindfuck.

  3. Commented by: Guilliame

    Thanks for the review. I bought, i like!

  4. Commented by: E. Thomas

    Here did you find it to buy?

  5. Commented by: Guilliame
  6. Commented by: Guilliame

    $7.92 MP3 dl.

  7. Commented by: ADVERSUM

    Thanks for the nice review! For those interested: the album is available in physical format through for 10 euros + postage.

  8. Commented by: gabaghoul

    lol “thrown around like Lindsey Lohan in an NBA locker room”
    this is crazy btw… just barely listenable

  9. Commented by: jesusthechrist

    The enslaved cover was.good,so was the split ep.

  10. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    jesus H. shit, this is nuts.

  11. Commented by: Guilliame

    10 Euros, that is like 1300 dollars right? lol

  12. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

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