Noise Trail Immersion is a band whose name pretty much sums up the way they sound. Based in Turin, Italy, their sound is rooted in hopelessness and anxiety, and their upcoming album ‘Symbology of Shelter’ is an evocative, overwhelming album that revels in the darkest parts of human nature.

A remarkable thing about the album is how difficult it is to place within a genre. Penned as “dissonant black metal infused mathcore,” the album is supposedly the band’s attempt at fusing elements of black metal with mathcore, although the finished product doesn’t really sound much like either. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but overall the album feels more Départe than Dillinger Escape Plan to me. I suppose there are hints of mathcore in the guitar tone, but there’s little of the hardcore aesthetic and over-the-top metronomic insanity that usually characterises the genre. It’s less angular and schizophrenic, more fixated on its own sense of despair. And while that lends it something of a black metal tinge, it’s musically more reminiscent of the dissonant tech death peddled by the likes of Ulcerate and Convulsing, as well as post-metal bands such as Isis or Neurosis in its atmospheric approach.

While mostly fast-paced, the clean, layered production creates an overwhelming soundscape of dissonant leads and sludgy low-end, and the lack of space in between instruments makes the music feel slower and more hypnotic, and increasingly so as the album goes on. As mentioned before, there are elements of black metal in the atmosphere and overall presentation, but this is generally a much thicker affair than most post-black metal, with clashing, dissonant leads pinned down by a much muddier lower end. The (8 string) guitars and bass sound on this album are absolutely massive and work with all the clashing notes to create a thick, dissonant sound that manages to stop well short of noise and feel crushingly heavy the whole way though. If anything, the slinking interplay between the guitars lend it something of a droning atmosphere that carries through the album even in its most brutal moments. In short bursts, the controlled chaos is really something to behold.

It’s not a great album, but it is a successful one, in that I don’t think Noise Trail Immersion could have done a much better job here. All of my problems with ‘Symbology of Shelter’ are problems I have with the style of music itself and I think it can be summed up as follows: this particular style of overly dissonant post-black/death/whatever is very tiring to listen to.

With bands like Ulcerate and Départe, the dynamic is at 120% more or less the whole way through, and it part of me wishes ‘Symbology of Shelter‘ had more in the way of ear-catching riffage or a semblance of melody, or if not that, perhaps a more natural style of production. The dissonance and constant barrage of sound as well as the rounded, enveloping production style all comes together to be somewhat hard to stomach for the whole 43 minutes, especially through earphones. The whole “one song album, split into sections” nature of the track listing adds to this, and the lack of any easily noticeable song structure just makes it feels like it’s droning on and on until I feel the need to pause and a breather – but this is clearly not how the album is intended to be experienced. And this is a shame because otherwise, I dig this a lot.

Guitarist Daniele Vergine describes ‘Symbology of Shelter’ as “a non-stop journey in a dead-end vortex full of panic, anxiety, insanity, and desperation,” and I don’t think I could have said it better myself in an 800 word review. But that point leads me to question how often I would really want to subject myself to that dead-end vortex.  I understand that not all art is meant to be pretty, but for the most part I think grind bands have the right idea when it comes to exploring these or similar themes – fast, brutal bursts of energy that get the point across without becoming fatiguing on the ear (I wonder what it would sound like on vinyl? Maybe I’ll order one at some point to find out).

Symbology of Shelter’ is an album that is musically stellar and one that I can really appreciate for the care put into crafting it, but I can’t see myself listening to it particularly often, and I have to take points off for that. But still, I’ll file this one away next to bands like Cryptopsy, Departe and Immolation. It’s not for me now, but who knows? In the right circumstances, metal like this can be incredibly cathartic, and at some point I could see Noise Trail Immersion helping me pull through some of my darkest hours.