Article by Salustiano Ferdinand
I was listening to Persecution Mania yesterday when I opened my email and saw some new releases thrown my way to sift through for potential reviews. Although I’m generally skeptical of newer metal releases, the Shadows in the Crypt album was a pleasant and recent surprise, so I figured why not.
So off I went to Bandcamp to listen to the albums and see what was worth commenting on. One band was an ultra-primitive caveman proto-death/black metal hybrid style, and I thought as I listened through that it might be worth commenting on their lack of restraint in barraging the listener with caveman noise. Moving on to the next album, I found myself being barraged by a warlike black metal that was relentless, using dissonance to embellish and transition between movements of power chords. Seemed competent enough, and I could tell the musicians could play their instruments. The last album was a sort of wannabe-fascist Nietzschean concept album of some sort that blended a mostly mid-paced semi-depressive black metal (that increased in tempo as the album progressed) with occasional post-black metal voicing, hard rock lead work and Attila copycat vocals.
It was at this point that it hit me: I wasn’t going to remember a single damn riff from any of these albums the next day. Lo and behold, I certainly did not. Into the ash heaps of dying metal history all of these albums go. Every single one of these bands crafted a style to suit an aesthetic and then proceeded to phone it in inoffensively without creating a single memorable moment in the process. Even with an honestly second-rate band like Sodom, anyone who has heard ‘Nuclear Winter’ immediately hears the riff as soon as I mention the song. There’s no excuse here. Let these sad examples of the state of metal in 2018 serve as a warning to all musicians reading this: nobody is going to care about which contrived aesthetic ingredients you brew together to create what you mistakenly believe to be a unique statement if you don’t even have the god damned riffs, to say nothing of songcraft, to back it up.
Tatanhammer – The Art of Human Sacrifice (2018)
I really wanted to like this one. Finnish caveman metal band Tatanhammer distil death and black metal to its prototypical foundation, bring back in some of the old Discharge that influenced so many of the old proto-black metal bands, blend some truly alarming-sounding doom metal chords in for good measure, then distort it all to hell. This is bonehead music, but none of us would be here in all likelihood if we didn’t find that evocative to a degree, and this is definitely the most intense listen of the three bands covered in this article. So what’s the problem? What’s the issue that keeps this from even being an enjoyable listen, let alone musically relevant? It doesn’t have any fucking memorable riffs, which is the whole fucking life blood of this sort of music. Seriously, literal joke bands like Exoskeleton have done this more memorably while also doing a better job at reducing my IQ and making my ears bleed. There is no justification for this to exist. Replace this with ANY actual proto-black/death metal band from the 80s, especially HELLHAMMER and early Celtic Frost, but also Sarcofago – INRI (1987) and Mayhem – Deathcrush (1987). Exoskeleton – Plutionian Herd (2008) is acceptable if you just want to become retarded and deaf ASAP.
Vulturine – Panegyric of Death – The Synoptic Picture of Negativism (2018)
Dissonance-reliant black metal with power chords and inversions thrown in. You’ve heard 1000 variations of this style, I’ve heard 1000 variations of this style. This is a style that is both overdone and difficult to do with musical success. The truth is that dissonant black metal like this only works at all when the dissonant voicing serves to enhance ultimately melodic themes (note that “melodic” and “consonant” are not actually synonyms contrary to popular belief) rather than to serving as texture. Vulturine try to incorporate the dissonant textures into their aesthetic without merely falling into an unmemorable wall of noise by mixing in the aforementioned power chord riffs. Unfortunately, these riffs are not memorable, and ultimately the dichtomy between these riffs and the dissonance only serves to water down the overall musical style rather than enhance it. This album just does not work, it was a chore to listen to, and though comes briefly close to creating a memorable theme on one occasion (a track hilariously titled “Substance”), it was still not memorable enough for me to recall it off the top of my head the next day. It was certainly not powerful enough to make up for the rest of the album’s length. Replace this with Deathspell Omega: Si monvmentvm reqvires, circvmspice, an album which far moreso than latter or previous efforts of theirs creates a fully integrated style that successfully and memorably uses dissonant voicing to enhance memorable melodic themes.
Odium Totus – In Inceptum Finis Est (2018)
Last but in certain ways certainly least, we have this hilariously infantile black metal fascist rock opera. One cosplayer’s (seriously look at this shit) dream of sterilizing all the plebes and jackbooting the proles. Coming never to a society near you, though if it did, this guy would probably be at the front of the sterilization line. Honestly, though it’s not really any more immature than treating Satanism as a serious philosophy, there’s something deeply ironic about an elitist black metal power fantasy rock opera being less memorable and compelling than American Idiot. Stylistically, it’s phoned in, mostly mid-paced black metal, sometimes with hipster black metal voicing, and with occasional hard rock leads, as said before. There’s not really much else to say other than it’s mediocre and features absolutely no memorable riffs. Apparently this moron plays live for indie-metal virtue signaller Krieg. This is probably going to lead to some lulz down the road, so keep an eye out for that I guess. There’s no potential in this style at all unless you want to make it funnier yourself by going all the way down cringe alley, featuring an entire cosplay cafe consisting of Boyd Rice and a bunch of effeminate neo-folk musicians. Replace this with getting shoved in the locker in high school while muttering “Evropa…” to yourself.
I’m going to go listen to Persecution Mania again because if anything, at least I know it’s got riffs to spare. If you’re a masochist, instead of listening to Persecution Mania. You can bore yourself to tears by listening to these garbage albums and, if you want to directly contribute to a bleak, riffless future in metal, you can even buy them.