I've discovered the truth: this band is Ulver Part II, meaning that they're insincere but musically adept enough to make black metal that's better than the rest, but empty as hell when listened to over a long term.
I wasn't around for Ulver's "prank on black metal", so I guess I just wasted a couple seconds of your life by making this comment. I have heard Ulver though, and what I got from Nattens Madrigal and some interview statements is that they were a bunch of pretentious elitists with nothing to really be elitist about, since their music was seemingly well-composed at first, but...well, let's put it this way: the first riff of that album screams this to me: "OK. Let's create something black metal. OK. Let's do a speed picked minor-chord arpeggio. That's pretty fucking black metal. Alright...ok...what next...oh yeah, let's do a unique progression, let's progress from that speed picked minor chord arpeggio directly to a speed picked power-chord that's a 5th away from the the minor chord previously speed picked, then let's do a short little black metal melody based on the root note of this particular scale...etc."
Infernal Battles: This is a blatant Gorgoroth ripoff, even down to production, and while it passes conveniently without disturbing and while being "good" in the most basic sense, it's wallpaper.
I heard this a long time ago, and didn't form much of an opinion about it. All I remember is that the production sucked and and that the music was OK, but nothing worth remembering or wading through the production for (unlike Remains of a Dead, Ruined, Cursed Soul). I guess that's a mark against it.
Kenose: A trend attempt that is the faux elitist black metal equivalent of Pantera.
Kenose appears to me to be an extremely random collection of ideas that are indeed interesting when viewed individually, but overall, I find myself with a desire to listen to something else when I listen to this album.
Si Monumentum Requires Circumspice: They might as well call this "Automatic for the People" - like later REM, it's musically better than their earlier stuff, and any one moment is beautiful and even profound, but when stitched together, it's mostly aesthetic and has nothing to say.
I haven't heard anything by REM except what came through the mainstream radio that my parents played when I was a kid, so I can't comment on this.
Si Monumentum Requires Circumspice is an innovative album. It has a complex sense of melody that attempts to work its way through an extremely dissonant landscape in a way that could be great. In this way, it expresses the silly concept of "Satan being the ultimate truth of the universe" or something equally juvenile in a complex manner that just falls short of being well articulated. I would expect nothing less from such a fucking stupid ideology as "orthodox satanism". It falls short of being completely brilliant. It is, however, worth a listen or two for musicians looking for interesting musical ideas within the metal genre.
There was some other 2-song or 3-song EP I heard, but it was complete fucking garbage. Send this band and Ulver back to Africa.
I think you mean the Malicious Secrets split. It's just like Kenose. It was basically Kenose retreaded.