So regardless of what numerical rating I give this record, I will say this: Perdurance has some of the coolest fucking guitar tones I’ve ever heard. I mean listen to that shit at around the 1 minute mark of Like the Woddcutter Sawing His Hands. Holy shit, that’s fucking surreal. I wouldn’t even know how you could go about creating that. Then again, I don’t think I have the imagination to create this album period. Rarely are there metal albums that I listen to and don’t think “yeah if I played guitar I could do that”. I mean maybe extremely technical and vituosic albums sure, but assuming my guitar skills were shared with the artists, the large majority of the albums I listen to is shit I could do in that scenario. This album isn’t one of those, and that deserves some respect.
Aside from just the guitar tone, the entire premise of this album is wicked fucking awesome, like genre porn that you never knew you wanted. Black metal has always prided itself in sinister riffs and tones, so a logical next step to that would be to create black metal using tones that one wouldn’t normally hear in a metal album, or any album for that matter. I’ll admit, I don’t have exactly the biggest experience with microtonal music, but I instantly thought of Penderecki when I heard this, and any time there is even an implication of Penderecki and black metal, I’m going to be a happy man.
But it’s not just microtones that they throw at you. Along with the haunting, whispering buzzing tonalities, you get these crunching, mechanical guitars that sound like they don’t belong on the album. Not that that’s a problem, I’m more than happy to accommodate more weird shit if it sounds good. These guitars are used to produced these heavy, groovy riffs that at times sound like they come from a stoner doom record of all things. Groove is a surprisingly large element of Perdurance. This isn’t all just art student wankery, there are some serious riffs going on here, to a point where it almost detracts from the more artistic elements of the album. Almost.
However, as much as I loved this record, I feel like there simply aren’t enough ideas for it to justify its length. Once you’ve heard the first track, you’ve essentially heard the entire album. I Am in Athens and Pericles Is Young is just about the best closer one could hope for, with more diversity than any other track on the album. But until then, the songs are often quite formulaic, with breaks to introduce “new” ideas, however those ideas never coming outside of the formula itself. There’s almost always that mechanical guitar riffing, followed by microtonal whining, back to guitar riffing. The variation comes during moments outside the riffing, however I feel like I have to wait for the riffs to be done before I ever get anything really new, and the riffs make up the large majority of the album. I Am in Athens has some softer sections that sound almost uplifting in a way, and other aspects that keep me interested during the entire track, rather than simply waiting for the good shit to pop up. I feel like an EP of tracks 3,4, and 6 would be fantastic, and get exactly as much information to the listener, while being a lot easier to listen to, and less time consuming.
Is this album a gimmick album, absolutely. A great, and very unique gimmick, but a gimmick none the less. That’s not necessarily a bad thing however. I absolutely adore the concept, and complaints aside, had a wonderful experience with this album. Perdurance represents what I love about black metal. No matter how much black metal you listen to, there’s always something new to hear, and always new ideas being created. It’s ripe with experimentation as well as tradition, often blending both in the same record (though not so much here). But an album based on essentially two ideas does not need to be an hour long. It’s not a major complaint, but it prevents this from being a top 10 album this year, which I feel like it had every right to be.