Hidden Persuaders- “Elegies and Curses”

Hidden Persuaders- "Elegies and Curses"

Black metal as an art form exists in contradiction with itself at many times. A genre born out of rebellion and reaction has become a hub for bored purists to tout their elitism. As a passionate fan of the confrontational and transforming nature of this music at its core, I’m often just as thrilled when an act uses elements of black metal to patch something entirely new together as I am when presented with brilliantly executed orthodox black metal. When given an industrial collage like Hidden Persuaders‘ newest release, Elegies and Curses, I find myself with few words to describe it, as it’s more of a personal experience of joy and discovery. It’s one of the rare times where the chaotically arranged album art (courtesy of the ever talented øjeRum) is an almost perfect representation of the contents within. Still I’ll ask you to follow me briefly as I endeavor to discuss this compelling album.

For this writer, Elegies and Curses is the point of entry into Hidden Persuaders, although this is the project’s third release since its inception in 2014. From the beginning of album opener “A Baptism of Shadows,” one can hear the fractured sounds of connections cutting in and out, chains rattling, and glass breaking, all over the constant throbbing of a simple yet effective ritualistic beat conjured up with repetitive drums, pulsing bass, and fuzzy, distorted guitar that more frequently conjures tones and textures than it does single notes or melodies. The pairing of conventional song structures with such alarming and confusing instrumentation makes for a listen that will excite fans of heavy metal’s more progressive side just as much as folks who worship the likes of NWW and Neubauten. Much of Elegies and Curses feels like an anthem for the empty streets after the world’s end, a call for the few survivors to succumb to the emptiness of death, yet it’s not as bleak as that may sound. Indeed, it’s the hints of melody and deliberate pacing that make Hidden Persuaders’ madness seem more inviting than frightening. The strong element of control is what makes this such a masterful release, with fear peaking only long enough to create a rush and comfort only yielding so much territory. For me, the album’s highlight is the frenzied crunch of “Continuous Awakening,” with blown-out vocals sheltered by bursts of pure static and ushered onward by percussion that feels more mechanical than human. In the future, music may resemble chewed up and oddly regurgitated versions of the sounds we know today. I feel that Hidden Persuaders has already taken a glance or two at what that may look like.

Elegies and Curses was released by A Giant Fern some number of months ago, yet these ears were a bit late to the game on this release. A select few copies of this cassette remain in stock and I strongly urge you to welcome one into your own personal collection. It’s a ceremonial horror you’ll revisit many times with equal parts joy and dread.