The Sublime, far from being an easy listen, rewards the persistent listener willing to dig deeper into its music with an entrancing brand of minimalist industrial post-metal that’s simply, well, sublime.
The woes of our skittish modern times – we developed hyper-specific genre tags that eliminate any appreciation of what influences go into the music they are supposed to represent, only to abandon them when our voracious, fast-paced listening habits outgrew our need for such broad-brush common identifiers. What we at times fail to recognize is that, as with a well-prepared dish, we sometimes need to take a step back to acknowledge the fine ingredients that were used in the creation of the music we enjoy, as well as the skill and effort it must’ve taken for the musicians involved to combine them into their current sumptuous form.
To keep with my metaphor for just a moment longer, the two chefs de cuisine behind Yerûšelem are Vindsval and W.D. Feld, long-time collaborators in the legendary French underground black metal enigma Blut Aus Nord. Granted, the music they prepared from the influences they have admitted to drawing from for this project – including 90s industrial metal à la Godflesh and modernist electronica, among various other forms of hypnotic, repetitive music – does not appear to have been conceived in an ordinary kitchen. Rather, it sounds like it came straight from the assembly lines of a dystopian production hall, manned by ancient worn-down machines singing hymns to the immortal stars they have never seen.
Trial and reward in equal measure await those who seek to pierce through The Sublime’s ostensibly impenetrable surface of slow-paced, monotonous industrial roar. Indeed, it takes patience to pick apart the layers that lie beneath the album’s unifying aesthetic. You need to look beyond the oppressive scene that takes place before you. Listen intently to the songs these supposedly soulless automatons are raising, let yourself be hypnotized by their rhythmic clang – it might yet reveal a spark of the spirit that separates man from machine within them.
All of the album’s nine songs could be used to exemplify the sound Vindsval and W.D. Feld are going for with this project, each encapsulating the essence of Yerûšelem through the exploration of the hypnotic, transformative potential of persistently looped beats and dense, repetitive atmospheres. I’ll admit that this approach might not sound all that enticing in theory; in reality, however, it plays out beautifully. In songs like “Eternal” and “Triiiunity”, Yerûšelem stack layers and layers of manically pumping industrial pulses, gritty yet ethereal guitars, chunky bass tones, and brooding keys/synths atop of each other with such purpose and precision that it’s hard not to marvel at their creation. Even Vindsval’s ominous vocals are nothing more than another element to weave into the band’s opaque soundscapes in this context, a mere echo of humanity among the indifferent mechanical clatter.
The Sublime will crush your soul to smithereens, only to reassemble it and lift it up to shine among the stars that hang over the oppressive cityscape it so desperately tried to break free from. To me, Yerûšelem represents both the conflict and the concordance between flesh and steel, emotion and calculation, spirit and programming. By existing as a musical crossroads between industrial sounds and spiritual undertones, The Sublime raises a wealth of interesting philosophical and artistic questions, without ever addressing a pre-defined concept itself. I’m aware that it might be hard to get into initially, but the album is such a rewarding listen on multiple levels that I can’t help but recommend it to anyone searching for a unique listening experience on the metal end of things.