Book of Sand- “Occult Anarchist Propaganda”

Book of Sand

Sometimes I wonder why it takes me so long to get around to featuring a talented artist on this website. Black Metal & Brews reviews aren’t necessarily the most in-depth or challenging, yet the process takes me some time nonetheless. When I’ve gone out of my way to purchase multiple albums by a talented underground act and I realize I’ve never featured their works on this site, I feel as though I’m failing my readers by keeping a secret to myself. With an act like Book of Sand, the main difficulty for me is not in sharing my enthusiasm, but in trying to grasp the essence of the artist’s work. With Book of Sand’s newest CD on Mouthbreather Records, Occult Anarchist Propaganda, I feel I’ve heard an album too good to ignore, even if I can’t do it justice with mere words.

The first thing worth noting here is that while the lyrical content is clearly informed by anarchist thought and action, I am not privy to the exact lyrics nor am I well versed enough to tackle that subject. Still, my lack of coverage on this as a philosophically and politically driven album should not be misconstrued as a lack of acknowledgment of the themes here. Red and anarchist black metal rarely feels like actual black metal in sound, often borrowing from punk, hardcore, and crust, so the ferocity and passion with which Book of Sand delivers a relatively traditional black metal sound is all the more welcome here.  It’s especially telling that this is not a typical structure for Book of Sand, whose musical trajectory is anything but easy to pin. With prior releases like The Bees and the Butterflies revisiting traditional English folk songs through the lens of black metal and Mourning Star standing as an album full of challenging frequencies and oddly jagged songwriting, the direct force of Occult Anarchist Propaganda feels like an intentional assault against convention and the status quo. That’s not to say this is a simplified or reduced version of Book of Sand, however. The experimentation that has made Book of Sand so memorable is still present on songs like “Render Unto Caesar,” which charges along with all the ferocity one would expect but has flourishes of grandiosity that accent the pummeling all the more brilliantly.

If anything, the accentuation of sound is buried in the many layers of beautiful fuzz and static that lend to Book of Sand’s mystique. With each listen I find new elements that appeal to my ear, new reasons why a different song on the album is the center of my attention every few days. This is what makes an album endure over time instead of becoming a quickly forgotten memory to throw on a “best of” list later in the year. As time goes on, this album will continue to yield more secrets. I look forward to what my next listen may reveal.