This latest offering from Scottish one-man band Bitter Lake is a straight-up slice of Norwegian-style black metal in the vein of 90s church-burners, Burzum.
When talking about the album, Travis Lee, the man behind the Bitter Lake project, says that he wanted to reproduce the “true characteristics” of old black metal cassette tapes. He achieves this to a certain extent on this self-titled album, combining classic elements of atmospheric black metal to build some intricate soundscapes.
The soaring synths of 'Frozen Landscapes', the album’s opening track, offer the listener brief euphoric moments that are swiftly ripped apart by raw guitar riffs, guttural vocals, and blast beat drums.
'Elephant', the second track on the album, is equally well constructed with an extended, creaking, synth-laden intro that constructs an ice-cave ambience, which is ultimately shattered by the sound of a trumpeting elephant, pounding drums, and screeching vocals.
After the carefully weighed atmospheric soundscapes of 'Frozen Landscapes' and 'Elephant', 'Blue', the third track on the album, seems more haphazardly thrown together with a jarring spoken word intro. The track finds its feet at around the halfway point where it settles into a long drawn out death-rattle soundscape. This nicely leads into the album’s final track, 'Lost Souls', a pounding three-minute audio bombardment.
By returning to the fundamentals of 90s black metal Travis Lee has built on an aesthetic he outlined in the May 2017 release 'Distortions In Sombre'. This self-titled album is a more sophisticated offering, with a greater emphasis on atmosphere. However, the desire to recapture the essence of 90s black metal tapes means that some of the more interesting influences from electro and breakcore, which were present in Bitter Lake’s August 2017 release 'Plagues', are absent from this album.