Downfall Of GaiaEthic Of Radical Finitude (Metal Blade)

It has been fascinating to watch Downfall Of Gaia’s evolution over the last decade. The Germans’ bleak blend of cerebral sludge and crust punk has mutated into something far more expansive: an entity feeding of the white heat of black metal for its energy, but confidently breaking free of any restraints.

And while 2016’s Atrophy helped to crystallise this sound, Ethic Of Radical Finitude takes it into the stratosphere. Guided By A Starless Night, for instance, makes such an emotional impact that you’ll be gasping for breath within minutes, the song’s intensity pushing the air right out of your lungs.

If this is post-black metal, then it’s a thunderous, all-enveloping interpretation of that ‘style’… and there’s nothing contrived or by-numbers about the band’s fifth opus.

In fact, a song like As Our Bones Break To The Dance is perhaps always where the quartet were going to end up, blowing a hole in the earth’s crust, sending shards of beautiful melodies up into the atmosphere to rain back down, burning up as they fall.

This act’s ability to detonate with such ferocity is at least partly due to sticksman Michael Kadnar. His performance on Atrophy was incendiary; here, he elevates himself to the very top tier of extreme metal drummers. Subtlety, creativity, vision… the guy is instrumental in driving tracks such as We Pursue The Serpent Of Time to their glorious conclusions.

Frontman Dominik Goncalves dos Reis is another vital ingredient, tearing his throat with all of the anguish and primal ferocity he can muster. And with fellow guitarist Marco Mazzalo, he creates sonic torrents that are at times, absolutely spellbinding.

This album has been inside Downfall Of Gaia for some time, just waiting to emerge from its chrysalis.

Now it has, there could be no stopping them.