Anyone who knows anything about chemistry can tell you that when you take separate elements and add them together, often the result molecule is very different from the sum of its parts. Sodium and chlorine combine to make table salt, despite both elements being poisonous for human consumption. It’s not just in chemistry that this principle works in, I’ve seen it work a dozen or so times in the music community, most recently with the Irish black metal project Outis. Outis is the brainchild of Outis of Horrenda (see the resemblance?), who brought in Shannon of the dark ambient/noise project XeroPulse, and Taoiseach Ceoldubh of the dungeon synth project Argonath. All three have experience in the black metal scene (as well as regularly gracing Resounding Footsteps), and all three have areas of expertise in which I consider them some of the best. What happens when the three of them get together and write an album? Let’s find out.
The Sacred and the Profane is the name of the demo that will be gracing the world soon, a demo with an impressive twenty tracks in it. Why so many? If I didn’t know anything about the project (and I actually know a lot) I would have thought that highly excessive. What sort of demo needs twenty tracks to bring in listeners? A project with about a million different facets, as it turns out. Outis is not your typical black metal project, it’s more than black metal, dark ambient, and dungeon synth. It combines all three and spits out something that’s more than just an amalgamation. It’s hard to really pinpoint what Outis is. It’s not just black metal, but it’s not quite dark ambient, noise, or dungeon synth. So what is it? Believe it or not, this made me think a lot longer than it should have (I love categorizing things as you well know). I finally settled on calling it avant garde metal because it certainly is that. Outis, in many ways, is the spiritual successor to the Horrenda album Neronian Times. Neronian Times marks the final album/demo before Horrenda become a truly full-fledged band with multiple members, before that it was all the work of Outis. Horrenda is now making waves (small ones but even the greatest waves start out small) in the Irish underground and maintains a success all its own. Outis needed an outlet for music that he felt was still worthy but didn’t quite fit the Horrenda name any longer. That’s where the Outis project came in. It allowed him an outlet to create the older style of black metal that the early Horrenda albums displayed while embracing the newer, more blackened death metal sound Horrenda has begun evolving toward.
The sounds of Outis are incredibly eclectic. With three members whose background in music ranged wildly, I thought it was going to be tough for them to blend. But that wasn’t the case. Remarkably, the music sounded coherent and cohesive. Yet it sounded nothing like any of the three. They came together and created a piece of music that wasn’t black metal, dark ambient, noise, or dungeon synth yet at the same time it was all of those. The guitar riffs are crunchy, raw, and razor sharp, the drone is melodic but atonal, and the synth work is ethereal.
The music tells a very passionate story about Irish history and mythology. All three have worked on projects in the past that have revolved around Irish folklore in one way or another but the music of Outis is different. One thing I will say about the lyrical themes of Outis is that you ought to have some sort of knowledge of Irish mythology. Before I started writing about Irish music, I thought I knew quite a bit about Irish mythology, all it’s oddities and quirks and heroes. But once I started to listen to real Irish music and started doing real research, I realized how truly little I knew. Irish music teaches the listener about Irish folklore in a way that stories and books and movies can’t. With the music you feel more than just the words, you feel the emotions as well, you see the green of the island, the red of the blood, you feel the stories as much as you listen to them. Outis is a story telling outlet. The demo, The Sacred and the Profane, tells a myriad of stories and folk legends from around the isle. “What’s so special about that?” you might ask. Fair enough. What makes Outis special amidst the very large amount of music out there? What makes Outis worth your time? Outis portrays that wonderful Irish quality I like to call wrathful sorrow. The music is angry yet there is a pride the music, a pride in the subject matter. Who else could make Irish folklore so alive than the Irish? Irish mythology and folklore is complicated, messy, and oft times really strange. The more I research Irish mythology, the more it confuses me. Still, I enjoy it. There’s earthy, honest quality and that sort of quality can only be truly communicated by Irish metal. Outis is full of wrathful sorrow. It’s full of anger and pain and tragedy.
The Sacred and the Profane is raw but it’s honest. It’s not a pretty album (save for the log and the cover art, holy shit!) but the construction of the album lends it a strange sort of beauty. Each song is different, both in tone and style but they are arranged in such a way that they make maximum impact. Some of the music is peaceful even though the style of the music is black metal, and some of the music is nerve wracking and intense even though the style of the music is ambient. Outis has managed to make their music different from, they’ve made it intriguing and engaging. The Sacred and the Profane is more than the spiritual successor to Neronian Times, it’s the successor to Beast of the Moor and Journey to the Otherworld (my favorite works by XeroPulse and Argonath respectively) as well. All three of the artists involved here make contributions to the overall theme. If you listen closely, or you know the artists’ work well enough, you can tell who created what parts. I very much enjoyed it. I’ve been privy to some of the demo versions as the album’s concept was being created and I can tell you that the album itself has transformed quite a bit. This is a very mature, very dark, but very meaningful album. I urge you to check it out!
Highlights: Dead Butterflies, Sídhe, The Guillotine, The Black Gates
For Fans Of: From the Bogs of Aughiska, Horrenda, XeroPulse, Argonath, Ninhursag
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The album will be released via many different formats:
Digitial: Bandcamp, Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play etc.
CD/Tapes: in production and will be made available from the Bandcamp directly for pre-order on the 25th
Tapes will have an alterntive art layout – Depressive Illusions Records will be releasing their version of the CDS/Tapes in early October.
Due to the nature of the project; the album will be for sale at Horrenda shows and Horrenda will be using some of the songs in our live set. Shannon (XeroPulse) will be playing keyboard for Horrenda at Siege of Limerick.
- Tír na nÓg
- Caisleán Dubhe
- Ov Hate & Sefl
- Mortal Sin
- Lesson in Blood
- The Restless Dead
- The Guillotine
- The Coffin Cure
- The Masquerade
- Black Mirror
- Dead Butterflies (feat. Colo Culin)
- The Wailing of Banshee
- Wrath of the Goddess
- Sacred Wells
- The Black Gates
- Sacred and the Profane
- Brian Bóruma (feat. Harsh Discipline)
The Sacred and the Profane will be released independently through Bandcamp on September 25th, 2017