Ustalost – The Spoor Of Vipers
Ustalost are a one-man black metal band based out of New York City. That man is one, Will Skarstad, who plays in Yellow Eyes, as well as Sanguine Eagle and Imperial Trumpet. Ustalost is the Russian word for “fatigue”, which seems to reflect how Will must have felt during the creative and recording process for this monumental effort. Spread across six tracks, The Spoor Of Vipers, sounds like sleepless nights in solitary confinement. The album begins with an eerie synthesizer drone, which slowly fades in before a furry of blast beats, jagged guitars, and chanted vocals bombard you.
Despite the albums low fidelity, every instrument can be heard clearly, which is important because there’s a lot going on. While the album mostly has a mid-pace feeling, each song is incredibly dynamic, with fluctuating tempos and rhythms. Each riff is sinister, with overlapping guitars creating whirling chord progressions that are dissonant and disorienting. The bass playing on this record is of the highest caliber. The bass is always present and clearly audible, and the bass lines do a great job of being both highly melodic and holding down the harmonic foundation of each song. The vocals on the album are incredibly intense, blood-curdling screams that are almost too painful to listen to.
Each song either starts or ends with the same haunting drone, if not bookended. These drones are accompanied by echoed screams that sound like desperate cries, begging for the madness to end. It makes the album feel like one long fever dream, each episode interrupted by brief moments sleep paralysis and paranoia before being dragged back in. While this album feels deeply personal, I believe we can all relate to the feeling of fatigue presented here. We’re always tired. The world is an exhausting place to live in at times. But this music isn’t just the sounds of nightmares, but the sounds of our struggles. It is the soundtrack to somebody trying to break out of this world that torments us, and free themselves from the anguish of existence. This is possible, but will certainly result in fatigue.