London has long been a crucible of rich and diverse music, but the birth of a multinational black metal band like Calligram serves as a poignant reminder of this city’s cultural elasticity. The band is ushering in a new era of sound with their sophomore full-length, “Position | Momentum,” to be released on July 14 via Prosthetic Records.
“Position | Momentum is a concept that comes from quantum physics: it says that when studying a particle you can’t know its position and its momentum (its impetus) at the same time. It’s strongly related to the idea of chaos/uncertainty, to the Heisenberg theory and it conveys very well our intentions of exploring the unpredictability of life and the full-blown chaos that lies underneath existence which is what this album is about.” – CALLIGRAM
The band’s philosophy, as suggested by their statement, is steeped in quantum physics, speaking volumes about their approach to their music. Their new album explores the unpredictability of life, dipping its toes into the chaos that bubbles beneath existence.
A Chilling Harmony: The Blending of D-beat Punk and Black Metal
The band’s latest offering has further honed their unique sound that merges D-beat punk with ice-cold black metal. The fusion results in an abrasive soundscape, where atmospheric passages create an ominous, claustrophobic ambience. The band allows moments of light to pierce through, illuminating the overwhelming darkness, highlighting the stark contrasts inherent in their music.
Vocalist Matteo Rizzardo lends a unique touch with his lyrics, delivered in his native Italian. His narrative, fraught with tales of pain, chaos, struggle, and anxiety, is not merely an expression but an introspective journey. He clarifies that “Position | Momentum” is not about catharsis through music: it is not his therapy.
“As the burdens on his shoulders grew heavier and the darkness became all-consuming, he set out to understand, embrace, and reclaim the darkest parts of himself.”
Calligram’s new album is a dark cloud in the summer sun, a testament to the band’s mature sound. The multi-national quintet casts a formidable shadow with their latest work, a black marker in the middle of the year. “Position | Momentum” is not just an album, but an immersive, cerebral voyage into the abyss of black metal and crust, a cosmic exploration of the darker corners of the human experience.
The combined efforts of Calligram’s excellent technical skills, Rizzardo’s writing, Russ Russell’s production, and Deborah Sheedy’s chilling artwork have resulted in a black metal masterpiece. “Position | Momentum” is not merely a background score to the daily ritual but an intricate artwork demanding multiple listens to grasp its depth fully.
The band’s ability to refresh their intensity through well-placed moments of respite results in a sonic journey that feels shorter than its 40-minute runtime. With every song adding to their palette of frigid black metal, “Position | Momentum” stands as a beacon of diversity and outstanding quality in the UK’s extreme music scene.
Spanning eight tracks, Calligram navigates between blackened hostility and stirring atmosphere. Both facets are well-crafted, offering a wealth of depth and substance for the listener to explore. At its core, “Position | Momentum” is a raw, emotive tour de force in modern black metal intensity, demonstrating the band’s ability to shape the darkness into a compelling proposition. Calligram, through their latest album, has indeed proven themselves to be at the top of the food chain in black metal.
CALLIGRAM – Position | Momentum – Track by Track commentary by Matteo Rizzardo (vocals):
As soon as we recorded the track we knew this had to be the opener. It’s full-blown chaos from the start and sets the vibe for the rest of the record. Lyrically, it’s about 15 dwarves dancing to no music while someone else is screaming in pain next door. True story. Please don’t ask.
Frantumi in itinere:
Frantumi in itinere is one of the first songs we wrote. It revolves around the concept of death of consciousness. I was always fascinated by the limits of thought. As humans we naturally strive for reaching and overcoming the limits which means, in this case, taking consciousness beyond the field of human thought into something greater, vaster and incomprehensible by thought and unreachable by intellect. How far can we push ourselves? Is it possible to push ourselves beyond the domain of language? The song starts with our usual formula of blast beats and thrash metal/D-beats until it gradually slows down and almost stops to a point in which you can only hear the guitar pushing a single note forward, against all odds, when everything calls for the song to end. That to me is quite an accurate symbolic representation. The song is pushing against its limits and eventually goes beyond itself, into a terrifying ending. It is terrifying because that same limit we try to overcome is what defines us and keeps us alive: the idea of “life” itself lies within its limits.
Eschilo it’s a chaotic eulogy to Aeschilus, the ancient Greek tragedian also considered the father of tragedy. I once read a beautiful essay by Emanuele Severino in which he highlighted the fact that in Aeschilus’ tragedy pain is unavoidable and can only be overcome by knowledge, almost as if the former gives meaning to the latter. It’s a paradox that comes back frequently throughout the whole album. In this song my screaming is almost spoken, almost like a metaphorical monologue, and the song ending is a slow and controlled collapse, as if there was a curtain gradually closing and covering the stage cutting each piece off, one after the other.
This was the last song we wrote right before entering the studio. It’s filled with vicious melodies and it has a quite suggestive ending. The title refers to the ancient city of Thebes and the myth of Aedypus and the song is an attempt to talk to the archaic man that is hidden in the lowest levels of each one’s psyche.
What stands out in this song is the presence of a trumpet (big shout to Freddie!), which you can also hear in “Per Jamie”, the instrumental song that precedes it. It’s definitely something you don’t expect to hear in our music and it conveys even better the meaning of the song: as a matter of fact, Ostranenie is a word that Russian formalists used for Defamiliarisation. This is what life is all about: fighting habits, seeking desire undiluted by habits. Habit ruins everything, makes everything flat and plain. Defamiliarisation is the impossible aim to experience everything like it was the first time and it’s the central concept of art poetry and of course music. The purpose of art and music is to impart the sensations of things as they are perceived and not as they are known. The technique of art is to make objects unfamiliar, to make forms difficult. The function of art is to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. Position | Momentum and its celebration of chaos shake up the “familiar scene” trying to give a new meaning to it.
When we entered the studio, this song had a slightly different structure and we weren’t one hundred percent convinced of it. It surprised us seeing the song “grow” and take its own different shape in those days (thanks to Russ Russel who understood us more than we did) and eventually Ostranenie probably became the best song in the album.
This is the very first song we wrote. It went through several changes and for a few months we had practically ditched it. It sounded too “nice” compared to what we wrote later and could not be a good fit in an album that was supposed to be the most violent and chaotic we ever wrote. We worked on this song for over one year, I think, trying to change the structure, switching parts, adding bits or taking them out. We actually played it once, live, during a socially distanced gig and it had received very good feedback. A few days later, in compliance with the long story of bad decisions which is the essence of this band, we ditched it. Eventually, months later we came back to it, and realized that the original structure wasn’t so bad and only needed some small tweaks to turn it into the furious and crazy tune you can listen to now. You’re welcome.
The final track of the record refers to Le Séminaire, livre 10 of French philosopher Jacques Lacan. In his “Tenth Seminar” Lacan explains the beauty and the blessing of deep unsustainable suffering. Yeah, uplifting.