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Entheogen (a psychoactive, which promotes spiritual enlightenment) enjoy drawing on substance-infused experiences to craft their brand of atmospheric black metal. I can't say that was immediately obvious, outside of having learned so from their press release. However, it does raise a question, which I had recently discussed on a forum; "Do drugs reliably unlock doors to otherwise closed musical ideas?" Of course, there's no way of scientifically measuring such an artistic and subjective medium. Ultimately, I've never tried it. I do know 3 pints makes me play like shit on stage, though (to be fair, being sober elicits similar guitar playing ability; I'm not what you'd call gifted). Anyway, I'm losing sight of what we're talking about.

Listening to this album is not something you can do from a distance; distracted, or otherwise. It demands your attention. The instruments, layered excellently in the mix, are cohesive, yet play their own part (the drumming, especially, must be highlighted here as being exceptional); seemingly against each other at times. It's this weaving of passages that requires your concentration, otherwise, it could be dismissed as noise. I'll admit I struggled to get into this at first, and found it took a few listens for it to start coalescing in my head, and that's something I've marked other releases down for in the past. However, I could sense that here was something of value lurking among the chaos; I just needed to adjust my focus to catch it. If you're familiar with Hail Spirit Noir, there are certainly parallels to be drawn between those two acts (with Hail Spirit Noir being ever so slightly more varied in their approach, and not quite as oppressive). The atmosphere is quite claustrophobic, and unsettling. There is certainly little joy to be had with the experience. I guess that's the point. However, even the most abrasive of metal still elicits excitement from me, and that's not a feeling I get with this album. No, this is more an appreciation of music as a higher form of art. While that may come across as needlessly pompous, it's true to say that Entheogen have crafted something that is distinctly uncommercial, but wholly true to the band's artistic sensibilities. I can't quite put my finger on quite why I enjoyed this so much. The album requires a lot from you, and the results will obviously vary. None of which, on paper, sounds like an enticing advert. And yet, it just works. I found myself going back for more, time and again. I can't say that I remember much of the experience beyond being in the moment - the songs aren't designed to be ear-worms - but I don't feel robbed of my time. It's a peculiar experience, for sure.

So, while it's impossible to say whether Entheogen have befitted from psychoactives in the creation of this album, it's equally difficult to suggest that this could have been the work of sober people. I wouldn't advocate for aspiring musicians to take that as an advertisement for drug use, but it seems to serve Entheogen very well indeed. 'Without Veil, Nor Self' should be an album to be listened to, with full attention in order to absorb the chaotic atmosphere fully. And, while it is an experience like few others, I do grant the experience is also tiring; it's not something most people will want to dive into regularly.
I, Voidhanger Records
Review by Steve Cowan
25th January 2019
1) Desolation Lyre
2) Sol Genesis
3) Sol Knell
4) Without Veil, Nor Self
5) Lethean Throat
6) Pall
"The atmosphere is quite claustrophobic, and unsettling. There is certainly little joy to be had with the experience...It's a peculiar experience, for sure."