Survival album review, ‘Survival’


The group, Survival, will be performing in the Washington, D.C. area. (Thrill Jockey)
SURVIVAL
“Survival”

Kindred spirits: Mogwai, Glenn Branca, Envy

Show: With Wild Fruit on Wednesday at DC9. Show starts at 8 p.m. 202-483-5000. www.dcnine.com. $10.

Some of the strongest rock music of recent decades has come with some of the silliest posturing. Brooklyn trio Survival avoids that problem by evicting Satan from the genre he inspired: black metal. The band’s self-titled debut has the grandeur and kick of devil-worshipping hard rock, but not the horror-comics worldview. When a rousing salute is required, singer-guitarist Hunter Hunt-Hendrix and his cohorts are most likely to roar, “Freedom!” The album even ends with a spiraling epic titled “Triumph of the Good.”

Hunt-Hendrix also is a member of Liturgy, a black metal outfit that’s more conventional (albeit still controversial among purists). Survival moves Liturgy’s style further toward prog-rock, complete with acoustic guitars and jazzy tempo changes. One song, “Since Sun,” is even more Renaissance madrigal than head-banging assault. But most of the music is as muscular as it is stately, with stomping guitar riffs and clanking drum beats.

The group’s ambitions verge on the orchestral, and “Survival” works as a suite. Songs flow into each other, much as the vocals meld with the guitars. Unexpected timbres and counterpoint energize numbers such as “Freedom 1,” which features metal-on-metal percussion and what sounds like a banjo. Insistent yet delicate, the song exemplifies Survival’s ability to bring light into the blackness.

Mark Jenkins

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