After years of soul-charred psych-folk perfection and an excursion into mathematical systems of compositional chance, Ben Chasny has taken the mantle of Six Organs of Admittance into its most fried chapter yet. While he’d helped lay waste to eardrums in Comets On Fire, his solo venture has been, for the most part, fairly hushed. Now that’s not to say that Six Organs never lights the fire, but its more apt to hang in the coals that rise with the flames. That is, until now. For The Veiled Sea, Ben has taken the band into the magnesium-soaked heart of the beast and let it burn with an intensity that sears itself into the retinas as well as the myringa. This is the first Six Organs LP that might rightly require multiple uses of the word shred in the description, though there’s an alkaline tinge to the works that keeps it from skewing towards the ‘80s stage pyrotechnics the word often brings to mind.
After a disjointed launch on “Local Clocks” the Sea opens as it were, with the oddly hued tempest “Somewhere in the Hexagon of Saturn,” which rightly throws its Malmsteen impulses into the maelstrom to be battered about. The song is a launching pad for the album’s liquid metal funhouse to follow. Electronic drums chew on the remains of Chrome and Suicide while Ben fashions a spandex-tourniquet of psychedelia out of the darkness on “All That They Left You.” The atmospheres are thick and grey, as maybe the title might imply, and tracks are just as often dodging the dry ice desperation of modern artifice as they are lost in a fog of memories that threaten to form walls. What’s most striking is that nowhere on The Veiled Sea does an acoustic ripple find its way out of the speakers. There are traces of the instrument, but Ben’s signature fingerpick is submerged under the hum of electrics. This is the scarred technological future of Six Organs — the organic musk of the past tamped down under the plastic pellet soil that’s littering the islands of Ben’s sea.
The album ends in an almost more surprising turn, with a cover of Faust that boats the album’s first real appearance of that aforementioned acoustic guitar. Here the instrument is bent into a mutant disco denouement that sees Six Organs emerge from the forge of fire into something weirder and sleeker than ever before. If this were a hint of what’s to come and the next step is the cyborg smog punk album of all our dreams, I’d be here for it. For now, this chrome chrysalis stands as one of the most dynamic albums in a lofty catalog. The album might just be the magnetic pole of the 2020s and we’re all drawn into its iron grip.
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