Album Review: TRISTYS – Cities and the Dead EP

Written by Barlovv

> TRISTYSCities and the Dead
> Black Metal
> Released April 21, 2022
> Bandcamp Link

Our lives bound by the chains that save us
The net is passage and support
Far below the chasm bed
The city never rises up

A rare thing in reviewing music is the feeling that maybe you should include a spoiler warning, and yet TRISTYS’ Cities and the Dead is such a unique beast that it almost feels like a spoiler warning is in order, and so with that said, spoilers for this album I guess? I can’t recommend enough going in blind to this and taking a look at it before reading the review, but that’s just me. In the interest of giving you that opportunity, here is a stream of the album from the Antifascist Black Metal Network.

Alright, now that we’re all on the same page – what a fucking ride hey? I’ve never really heard anything quit like what TRISTYS is bringing to the table and I am so glad to have it in my life. This absolutely wild mash-up of indie rock, black metal, hip-hop, and ambient Explosions in the Sky-ass instrumental stuff is hands down one of the most interesting pieces of music I’ve had the pleasure of listening to this year. Add to that the fact that it comes from an anti-fash artist and you’ve got yourself the makings of an AOTY here.

If that was the end of what TRISTYS was up to, that would be plenty, but lone gunman Oli Jeffery is not content to just make a good album. It’s also got to get all profound art on me as well; reinterpreting the novel Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino (which I now have to read, so thanks a lot Oli), as – in their words – ” anti-capitalist, black metal war cries”.

Don’t think those anti-capitalist themes are subtext either, there is some absolutely explicit lyrics here that tell you exactly what it’s all about. In particular, one piece that stands out from “Mummified in Yellow Light”: “Death does not save us. From meaningless labour. Ears pressed to a broken clock” – which hits just like a fucking sledgehammer.

The Bottom Line

Cities and the Dead is an easy top 10, if not top 5 for the year. It’s different, interesting, and you just need to go and read it. I don’t know how else to sell it to you, so just go. Go away, listen to this fucking album.