Italy's Brucia Records has been one of those rare pleasant surprises in an otherwise quite bleak and chaotic 2020. Highlighting some of the best in avant-garde, experimental, and just out-there black metal, much of which coming from Italy itself, the small label has released quality release after quality release of adventurous, original metal. The latest of these is the somewhat mysterious project Teratolith, who are set to release their debut full length through the label on tape and CD later this month. The album, Eclipse, a bringing together of two independently released EPs by that name released last year, is an absolute joy for the joyless – a droning, atmospheric, unsettling, and chilling mode of black metal that seems to draw its influences both from the deeper reaches of the experimental electronic scene as it does from such forward-thinking black metal projects such as Blud as Nord and, perhaps more recently, Decoherence. Distant, austere, and menacing, it has to be one of the better progressive black metal releases of the year, and another worthy addition to an an incredible year of Italian underground extreme metal, with other standout releases from Nero di Marte, Bedsore, Phobonoid (who we recently interviewed following the release of their great split with Mania), Cosmic Putrefaction, Thecodontion as well as many others, including Brucia Records' own previous release, the wonderful new album from Derhead (I should say I don't actually know Teratolith is Italian, but let's just call it an educated guess).

All of which is more than ample reason to highlight the latest track to be released from Teratolith's Eclipse, "Five. Thanatomorphosis." As with much of the album, "Thanatomorphosis" is a deceptively atmospheric track, shrouding much of its punch under thick layers of overdubbed guitars and reverb. And yet the vibrant performances that make the track such a standout are all there, like jagged peaks poking a layer of mist, moving, crystal clear, in the background. The result is an incredible work of defamiliarized black metal, as distant as it is urgent. Here it is here for your listening pleasure, followed by a short interview with Teratolith.

Is there a moment with a song or an album, maybe as a younger person, that really changed what you thought about music or made you want to become a musician yourself? Obviously there might be more than one of these, but anything that stands out?

Future Sound of London – Dead Cities. I stumbled upon it at 4 AM in 2002 and 2003 and it was the moment I realized that I want to make music.

 As a follow up, can you understand better now, with the years that have passed, what it was that grabbed you about that initial moment? Perhaps an element you retained in your own music?

The atmosphere was just amazing. Also, it was one of the most dehumanized songs I've heard at that moment of my life.

Could you speak a bit about how the project came together and whether or not you feel like you operate within a defined musical scene? At least a scene defined by geography or locality?

It all began from psychotropic medications, haha. I was in really bad shape and when the new meds started to kick in, I felt almost compulsive urge to create something new, which would depict my state of mind. It quickly evolved into much more coherent project than I initially thought it would be. Regarding the metal scene – I just do not care about any musical communities, both local and virtual. We just create our art and art should speak for itself, without any additional explanation or ideology, as well as it should stand above any borders created by genres, countries or people.

Obviously the general idioms your music seem to work within are black metal, ambient, drone and others, but there’s a sense, in much of Eclipse, that these different styles or genres are really shades you use in order to achieve a general vibe  by way of contrast. Could you say a little about the importance of contrast – in atmosphere, in pace, and in instrumentation – to your thinking about this record and how it was made?

It's a really hard question, as we never thought about it! The final result was achieved by our creative process, involving lots of improvisation and fiddling with dissonance, both in terms of melodies (or lack of them, haha) and structures of the songs. It felt really natural, almost like we had no control over what we were creating. It just came to existence.

Given the previous question, and given the project’s investment in creating sharp sonic dynamics noise-like backdrops, would you say that metal and/or heavy music are you primary source of inspiration in these matters? What would be some of the “non-metal” styles you find especially engaging in these terms?

Of course, when writing metal-related material I find lots of inspiration within the genre, but I think that electronic music is my main source of getting new ideas. I listen to lots of electronic music since I was in my 20s, and I usually stick to the extreme ends of the spectrum – from noise ambient to crossbreed and breakcore.

Is there anything about the new album that you’re especially proud of?

 The atmosphere. While I am almost never truly satisfied by the music I write, this time I am really proud of the general vibe of the album, especially because I managed to achieve exactly what I wanted to do on this release.