Vitriolic Sage - Feuerschlucker (Pest)

Gushing about Liu Zhenyang's most recent full-length Ψευδομένη left me with a twinge of sadness, because I actually prefer "the moody mysticism" of Vitriolic Sage even more than the mathgrind meloblack of  Ὁπλίτης ('Hoplites'). Fortunately, there's an easy remedy for that: cook up a little snack on this here Feuerschlucker ("fire eater"), before it turns into expired product. Behold, a slightly fermented treat!

To start, it's not all that surprising that I prefer the Sage, because war metal notwithstanding (and sometimes even then), my proclivities tend more toward bands with a psychic edge. Though Ψευδομένη was anything but a straightforward record, its complexity had a machinic glint to it. Feuerschlucker abides by a more associational and even dreamlike logic, piling pitch-shifted incantations atop its worthy one-man impression of Battles in the North-era Immortal. The ambient choices can definitely feel gratuitous at points, and I'd be lying if I said I never skipped over the ASMR nothings that end "Inceste" and "Dag Pa.” Sometimes, though, Vitriolic Sage's black-metal-by-mélange approach gives depth to what otherwise would have amounted to a good-but-forgettable bit of shredding. The hypnotic arpeggiation on "Réminiscence III" reminds me of the fairy fountains' creepy respite in Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time. Not only do some of the chords sound eerily similar to that iconic MIDI score, but they lend the song a magical aura and leave space for the next track to bring riffage with extra oomph. With this curatorial finesse, Vitriolic Sage show off an enthusiasm and experimental flair akin to LasterFeral Light, and other thoughtful meloblack acts rising above the crowded field. Such comparisons are not to be taken lightly, and like all of Zhenyang’s releases, Feuerschlucker flashes serious potential for someone only in their early twenties.