Leather Chalice- Luna

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Leather Chalice was a band I knew very little about, but it seems that it’s the solo project of Ramlord member Jan Slezak and he has been releasing material at a fairly rapid pace. After releasing two demos and two splits last year, Leather Chalice put out a full length in April along with the Luna EP which will be available on limited cassette via Broken Limbs Recordings. The EP consists of a fifteen and a half minute song that incorporates elements of black metal, punk, and a little bit of drone/dark ambient. It’s a track that remains completely unpredictable for its entire run, but it maintains a dark and sinister feel no matter which genre the instrumentals dabble in and that makes Luna an EP I’ve found myself returning to for repeat listens.

The material starts off with a sound clip that describes what sounds like a torture situation with some eerie electronics placed behind it. It’s the type of clip that is close to what one might hear on a Gnaw Their Tongues album or even from a good deal of the dark ambient/drone artists out, but instead of opening up into slower paced material the arrangements heads towards a drearier post punk groove. What most listeners will immediately notice as they make their way through Luna is that this isn’t one of those projects where the instrumental work throws in a few sloppily played punk or post punk riffs and calls itself blackened punk, as the styles feel fully integrated here. Throughout the fifteen and a half minutes the song weaves its way through drearier sections that maintain a tense atmosphere and walls of sound that have black metal’s abrasiveness and punk’s rebellious spirit. All of these ideas are held together by quick ambient interludes that give off a creepier feel, and what stood out to me the most each time I made my way through Luna was not only how the individual sections grabbed my attention but how seamless the experience was. Making a cohesive song that’s fifteen plus minutes in length can’t be easy, but Leather Chalice has done an incredible job.

Although the instrumental work definitely drew me in with its abrasive edges and waves of drearier melodies, the vocals that Jan Slezak delivers throughout Luna was one of the main reasons I found myself giving this EP repeat listens. Slezak has one of those higher shrieks that sound both aggressive and anguished at different points, and it contrasts nicely with the melodically instrumental work and instantly grabs your attention. I’ve seen some of Leather Chalice’s work given the lo-fi tag at various site, and while I can’t speak for the project’s previous works there is a level of clarity to Luna that makes it easy to picks out the details and lets the vocals spread out and gain intensity rather than being buried in a wall of noise. The vocals aren’t always the most prominent element, particularly on a song with plenty of twists and turns like this one, but they always made an immediate impression each time they appeared and pulled me right back in from the spacier moments.

There are quite a few bands out there merging elements of black metal and punk/post punk/however you feel like categorizing it, but Leather Chalice’s Luna EP sounds genuinely different from the others I’ve listened to. The single track on this cassette is not only an unpredictable whirlwind of aggressive riffs and drearier melodies that build up to climaxes that might just put you in a haze-like state, but at times it’s downright unsettling and maintains a sense of tension throughout. I’ve had this one on repeat for a couple of days now and continue to get sucked in by the sudden transition from black metal and punk to bursts of creepy ambient, and it looks like I’ll have to hunt down of Leather Chalice’s other limited releases.


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