Super Massive Black Holes is downright weird. In the absolute best possible way. There are a good number of bands out there that play with influences from other genres. Bands that mess with tempo and tonality to immerse the listener into soundscapes they might not have heard clashed together before. Bands that keep you guessing where the song you are currently listening to might take you and how the next song will flip that around and take your ears in a new direction. Super Massive Black Holes does all of this, and their debut full length album, Calculations Of The Ancients showcases all of their talents.
If you had a chance to listen to their self-titled EP from2012, you will have a bit of an idea of what to expect as far as the level of chaos this music can explore. The technical death metal side of things shows up from the very first track which helps start the album off in an explosive manner. The first track ends a bit oddly, and possibly could have flowed a bit better into slower cleaner intro of the second track, but this is really the only time the flow of the album seems a bit off. The rest of the album flows very well and the atmosphere that gets built by the clean guitars is damn near perfect. Particularly on the second half of the album. The instrumental track ‘Mathematics Of Emotion’ is all clean guitar and one of the coolest tracks on the album because it feels really surreal after the onslaught of music that had come before it. It’s placement on the track list is fantastic.
The atmosphere and chaotic feeling on this album reminds me a lot of The Schoenberg Automaton’s album Vela from last year. From the use of clean, quieter parts, to a few scattered bits of sound bites, there’s an eerie atmospheric chaos on both albums, and I love it to bits.
The production quality on this album has taken a bit of a step up from the EP, although it still feels very raw and natural sounding, which may or may not sway some listeners. The raw sound does make it feel a bit more alive, and since the album is so chaotic it seems to work to the bands advantage in the end. It gives you a bit of a feeling like you’re in the same room as the band listening to them record. In an world where one man bands can go in and perfect their music on a computer to make themselves sound like virtuoso’s it is nice to occasionally hear a band that’s not terribly worried about being the spotless sounding band out there, but on the other hand I cannot say I would not be interested in hearing how this band would sound with a bit of a cleaner production sound.
This album is not one to take lightly. There is a lot to take in here and repeated listens are beyond beneficial to appreciate the finer details of the album. If chaotic/experimental/fusion metal is something you enjoy or at least think you’ll enjoy Super Massive Black Holes is a band you shouldn’t pass up. If anything Calculations Of The Ancients will provide you with an interesting listen and a change of pace from the more mainstream subgenres of metal.