Victory Over The Sun - Dance You Monster To My Soft Song! (Coarse Air)

For six years and three albums, Vivian Tylinska’s microtonal black/sludge metal project Victory Over The Sun has writhed in strange geometries like a deformed corpse contorting itself into knots. Her new record Dance You Monster To My Soft Song! stays true to the angular choreography and nightmarish surrealism of its predecessors, but that shouldn’t be mistaken for a lack of progress. The release flaunts a more grotesque grandeur than ever before, in terms of both its compositional breadth and actual sound, so as to evoke a dramatic feeling that the grimier Nowherer never did. There’s a more overt progressivism to the songwriting, with most songs going through a number of distinct sections. Conversely, with the absence of its predecessor's trademark microtonality, Dance You Monster may offer a more accessible listen than Nowherer’s adoption of the notes between the notes. I for one am somewhat missing the rich oddness of the harmonies deployed there, but there’s so much else this record has to offer, that I’d be a fool to get hung up for too long.

Though Victory Over The Sun has picked up enough momentum to earn a blurb on Bandcamp Daily, a record this ambitious deserves a more thorough, song-by-song writeup, given how each track offers more ideas than most bands can invest in a full album. Opener “Thorn Woos The Wound” is a textbook example, featuring a rhythmic complexity rarely found in black metal, both in the first section’s stuttering Liturgycal beats and the middle interlude’s meandering arpeggios. Without distortion, the harmonic discordance takes center-stage, joining the trance-like backdrop in a hypnotic, sensual dance that’ll drive you mad, if you watch too closely for too long. The track’s grinding, sludgy finish sets up the comparatively bite-sized “WHEEL,” which in contrast to the other songs’ modal excursions, treats listeners to a single insistent riff, intensified and layered until it smothers everything in thick smoke and shadow.

“The Gold of Having Nothing” is the record’s left turn, trading the prior two tracks’ relentless darkness in for a more orchestrated aesthetic courtesy of sax, trumpet and violin. This isn’t to say Tylinska completely discards everything we’ve heard so far; the same strange intensity pervades in a weird and eerie fusion of disparate sounds akin to maudlin of the Well, before the song’s climax brings things back to a more familiar blackened fury. The next track, “Madeline Becoming Judy,” picks up this black metal thread until it surprises yet again with a synthwave lead that’s sure to raise a few purists’ eyebrows (assuming they haven’t been raised already). The Liturgy comparison is relevant here too, because the sudden glistening eruption from tense awkward grooves has an almost visual, luminous effect. There’s a shared sense of majesty in both projects’ approaches to black metal, which testifies to Tylinska’s high status amongst the growing cadre of extreme metal mavericks. 

Still, Dance You Monster concludes so devastatingly as to exceed comparisons with metal’s underground darlings. As we’re taken into the chromatic collapses and cavernous bass clarinets of closer “Black Heralds”, the record dissolves its constant uncomfortable metamorphosis into the sonic equivalent of primordial ooze, beckoning you closer until it snares you in its folds. Hearing something so finely structured collapse so completely has never felt this exhilarating.