Written by Espi Kvlt
None – “Inevitable”
> Depressive black metal
> Oregon, US
> Released June 30
> Hypnotic Dirge Records
None first captivated me in 2019, with the release of their album Damp Chill of Life. I had enjoyed their previous album, Life Has Gone On Long Enough, but the 2019 record had sparked a love for the band and their melancholic black metal, owing to its unique band-defining sound that established them as not just one in a sea of DSBM acts, but their own definitive band to watch. They have taken that foundation from the previous work and brought it fully into form on Inevitable. This isn’t a DSBM album – this is a None album.
The record’s opening track “Never Came Home” immediately pulled me in with its somber guitar tone, each flick of the strings sounding like tears falling. This carried on for a couple minutes, drawing me in with a false sense of gentleness and calm security before the aggravated assault of blast beats and loud guitars rang through my ears. Despite how loud the instrumentation became, the sadness laced atop everything remained, the tone continuing on with its somber rhythm until it slowed back down into a melancholy soundscape.
Following the incredible opening display, “Alone, Where I Can See” builds directly off the first track, sounding almost like a symphony with multiple movements. The dreamy soundscape is quickly replaced by harsh guitars and thundering drums, however, and the vocal introduction on this song is an inhuman snarl that immediately captivated me. It transforms into a grotesque layer of almost raw black metal instrumentals with a harsh vocalization underneath that echoes and buries itself inside of your skull. The song ends, however, on yet another spacey, atmospheric soundscape, transporting us into the next movement of this symphony.
We are greeted with another multi-minute, gentle introduction on “A Reason to Be”, and this one somehow manages to transform into something even harsher, even faster, going immediately from gentle, plucked strings into a torrent of sounds – a flurry so chaotic it has the capacity to knock you off your feet. Aside from the musical strength of this song (and the incredibly catchy riff that plays from the start throughout its entirety), this track’s real standout moment is with its emotive, depressing as hell vocals. They take on a new life here, becoming near-constant screams of agony. As the song fades into the next once more, the harrowing vocals were there to prepare us for a hard left turn into a whole new area of musical prowess that was formerly shown but is now perfected.
“My Gift”, the fourth track, consists of six minutes of pure spoken word over gentle piano. There are no transformations into metallic harshness or loud screeching on this piece, as it guides us gently through words that are difficult to understand at times due to some haunting effects (which I loved), but can mostly be boiled down to “this person trusts no one, everything is disappointing or terrifying, they hate themselves, and they hate the world.” Despite being the gentlest song thus far, “My Gift” simultaneously manages to be the heaviest emotionally, weaving familiar and relatable concoctions of disdain for one’s self and the world. The fact that these words are spoken instead of sung and that they dance upon a melody that seems almost sweet and like a lullaby just makes it heavier. As I listened to it, I couldn’t stop thinking about the gentle songs that rocked me to sleep as a child, unaware of the cruelty of the world, until one day those same songs took on a new form, and as I entered adulthood, I became very aware that what had once provided comfort now provided nothing but anger – at the world, mainly, for putting me here and making me live in it.
Fifth track “Locked, Empty Room” is even more strange on this DSBM album. It is another full nine minutes of piano and instead of spoken word, what sounds more like a sample taken from someone’s voicemail (whether that’s where the audio was actually sourced or not, I do not know). The words “I love you, I miss you” repeat over and over by a voice that sounds like it’s crying as breathing in the background gets louder and louder. This continues for several minutes, and by the end, the person repeating the words is definitively crying, and the person breathing starts to sound like they’re choking. Many implications can be taken from the elements of this song, but personally, I think it’s pretty clear what happened, and that the choking was due to the person ending their own life. As I write this, I have now listened to this album five times, and every time, this song hits me the hardest and makes me actually start crying. The fact that something as simple as a few piano notes, a repeated monologue, and some heavy breathing could have such an impact is a testament to None’s art and their command over the sound they have created.
Final track “Rest” stands out amongst the rest, its tone almost triumphant and epic, hope seeping through after the grimness of the previous exertion. While I am unsure of what the lyrics are on a majority of the song, I am sure they are much more melancholy than the instrumentation; it becomes far more apparent towards the end, when I was forced out of the triumphant fantasy I’d built in my mind and was forced to once again confront the pain on this album. For the last several minutes, the tone abruptly changes, with the piano and tears returning, exploding in another eruption of metallic sounds which lead to a section of the song where the vocalist is enunciating far more, and the depressing words return again.
THE BOTTOM LINE
None have taken their previously-laid groundwork and created what may perhaps be a career-defining album. Not for the faint of heart, this record is an artistic masterpiece, pushing the boundaries of how music can be used to weave stories and taking its listener on a journey of sorrow and sadness. This is going to be an album I keep returning to for DSBM, and None continues to elevate their sound and impress.