Artist: Everson Poe
Label: Trepanation Recordings
Release Date: 02/04/2021
Country: United States
Everson Poe is a one-person project from Chicago, IL by an artist called Mae Shults, who has been releasing music as Everson Poe for over 10 years. As a queer & genderqueer individual, they incorporate themes of gender identity and mental health into nearly all of their songs, filtered through lenses inspired by various forms of pop culture, or simply their own imaginative storytelling.” Every album that Mae releases is vastly different to the last, working in completely different genres, such as metal, or punk or electronica depending on the release and it’s theme. We’ve reviewed a few albums by the artist, such as their last full length Ritual (which you can read here), their split with The Sun Came Up Upon the Left, Ancestral Memory (read here) and A Plague Upon Four Houses Split (which you can read here).
As always with Poe’s work this is a themed album, this time though being a full concept album telling a story, the album focuses on:
“A devout Christian serial killer who believes it is his duty to rid the world of those who practice witchcraft, who are possessed by demons, or who simply turn away from the Christian faith. But after committing so many horrific crimes, he begins to question his own faith; Is he, himself, possessed by a demon? Eventually he comes to the realization that his actions were wholly his own, that there is no god, and that he has damned himself to a life of suffering.”
The album fuses elements of black, doom and death metal, as well as some sludge influences. As with many of Poe’s albums, sound clips and audio samples are interwoven with the music to help build the in-depth themes and concepts on the release and give a more immersive listening experience overall. The album features clips of preachers discussing witchcraft and demons, an Aleister Crowley ceremony, and interviews about mass murderer Richard Speck and with “Co-Ed Killer” Ed Kemper. This is also the first album not to be solely produced and mixed by Poe and has been a joint effort with sole member of The Sun Came Up Upon the Left db.
This is without a doubt Poe’s heaviest and darkest release to date. Musically speaking we have a heavier reliance on death metal and raw black metal/DSBM elements. That doomy, atmospheric element is still the primary focus of the album, but we do see more aggression that previous releases. The vocals on the album are by far the most pained and strained of anything to date. The doom death style vocals are pushed to the limit of how much emotion can be contained in a vocal of this style and I imagine they cannot be easy on the throat to produce. We also get some more straight forward death metal vocals in the heavier, more aggressive segments. The black metal vocals shift between a raw shrill shrieked style and a pained screeching wail that is distinctive of the DSBM style of the genre. We even get some pained, shouted clean vocals that add additional effect overall. The mixed use of these vocal styles makes the album captivating and expresses the dark and upsetting themes on the album.
As far as the sound clips and audio samples go, the album would not be nearly as immersive and captivating without them. They are crucial in developing the unfolding concept on the album and detail the events of the killer’s life, their psyche and motivation and chronicle their shift in self-awareness and identity from “warrior of god” to “self-loathing monster”. There’s something truly unsettling about these elements that somehow makes the whole thing feel that much more real and possible. The album’s unique perspective of faith, the role in people’s lives, how it shapes people’s identities and what it can drive people to do is truly impressive. It is even more impressive that the inspiration for the album came from a Catafalque (another band that I love from the Trepanation Recordings roster) song which sampled The Exorcist III, in which a serial killer is possessed by the same demon from the first film in the series.
Lastly, we need to look at the instrumentals on the album. Guitars wise we have a fantastic blend of styles ranging from doom death through to black metal. There are parts of furious black metal riffing, hammering death metal and slow, emotion laden doom influenced parts that truly build the album’s atmosphere. The drums follow suit and serve as a re-enforcing and complimenting force rather than a driving force on the album. You’ll find blast beats, gravity blast drumming and plenty of other styles in the mix though, giving us some nice diversity. Bass wise it sits within the mix, padding out the album’s fullness of sound and at times shining through the mix to be more clearly audible. The synth based electronic elements really help to add additional depth and present us with some haunting, emotional and unsettling textures.
Overall, this is easily one of Poe’s best works to date. I am slightly biased in this regard though as in my eyes this artist can do no wrong. The first album I heard by the artist was Ritual (which made my top 10 of 2020) and since then I’ve basically fawned over everything that Poe has put out. It’s hard not to when they release nothing but quality music that is unlike stuff being out by anyone else right now. So, take some time out of your day and give the pre-released track a spin and make sure to get your pre-order in today.
Listen to and order the album below: