Spain’s one man band Negativa continues to truck along with his 4th full length album that is no less more of what he has given us since the start of his career in 2012. For those who love the niche genre in the Suicidal Black Metal department that is just bleak, torturous, and oddly calming at times, then the simply titled ‘04’ is for that person’s ears. Drawing on influences like Xasthur and the more recent Ghost Bath, DB’s work is bleak, distorted, and just 7 tracks of pure hell. Not quite Noisecore Full of Hell hell, but certainly on par with ‘Subliminal Genocide’ as far as how razor sharp and grim it is without sounding like it goes on forever and ever on certain tracks. Negativa has always been good about avoiding the 10 plus minute songs while keeping the formula basic and somewhat repetitive. The music is very depressive- no acoustic sections, no lofty keyboard passages, just wailing abrasive Ghost Bath style vocals with the Xasthur style instrumentation that is harsh on the ears and the soul, but DB still knows how to create an engaging song even if the song titles themselves are just roman numerals. One cannot really understand what he is saying, but a lot of the Depressive/Suicide Black Metal genre is more meant to be heard at an ambient level for just the sheer sonic brutality versus the lyrical content (though those who want interesting lyrical Suicide Black Metal check out mid era Shining or anything by Leviathan).
Compared to previous released, ‘04’ picks up right where ‘03’ left off. Slow thunderous drums, tremolo picking galore, hissing wails buried by distortion… it is all there. ‘XXIII’ does repeat itself for a bit, but not for too long. Compared to Xasthur, the drums feel a little more lively versus a simple kit, so either DB is doing the drums himself or the drum machines have gotten smarter… either way, it is still one of the more engaging parts of the track. Of course, like the previous albums, this track sets the precedence for the others as they start to blend together after a while. It isn’t until ‘XXVI’ that things shift a bit more for the melodic depressive side versus just sheer depression. DB opts for more whispered vocals versus wailed and the overall tone is just foreboding, yet still torturous, like a victim waiting for last scalpel incision to end their life. While this track is one of the most repetitive of all and sounds more like an interlude piece with its rather quiet approach, many will appreciate it for the difference in sound. Listeners will get a little more lively Black Metal more in the vein of Ghost Bath with ‘XXVII’ as the track sheds the distortion soaked depression and aims for something a little more slightly upbeat yet still vocal tearing, almost like more recent Benighted in Sodom. The overall tone is certainly more upbeat than the others.
DB does push limits a bit on this album with the last track. Clocking nearly 9 minutes, it is certainly one of the longest to date, and also one of the noisiest. A cacophony of everything that makes the likes of Xasthur or Ghost Bath good (aside from keyboards or piano), the music is a final trip down the hole to hell. DB gives one of his better tortured vocal performances and just evokes as much despair as he can with his music. Ultimately, fans who have followed him will be impressed (or depressed) and will hail ‘04’ as another solid chapter in the Depressive Black Metal story of Negativa. For new fans, it is hard to say where to start with his work, but ‘04’ is certainly not a bad place to begin for those who have trouble finding the earlier parts. Negativa is bleak and soul crushing, but not in a way that will bore listeners to want to kill themselves while they listen to it.