Judas Iscariot
The Cold Earth Slept Below....

More American black metal, but this one man band distances himself from the post-death metal now-black metal technicality of his fellow countrymen, and instead concentrates on more of an early-second wave or even modern Polish sound. I'll proudly admit that Judas Iscariot have truly impressed me with this release, not because of it's original sound (it's not obviously) but because of the excellent rawness and atmosphere found during the 44 or so minutes of this disc. Influences range everywhere from Graveland to Darkthrone to even Beherit at times, and although some songs (such as the opener "Damned Below Judas") are sincere imitations of the just mentioned groups, Ankenaten does use enough of his own sound and production values to create a worthy listen. This is RAW black metal (if you haven't picked that up already) but it flows with an almost clean, perhaps even mystical sound (via the smooth sounding guitar), so it's not overly brutal if that's one of your fears. Drums are actually quite similar to some Graveland...that is they are fairly messy (yet not in a bad way) and go everywhere from slow doomy beats to violent blasts of speed (such as the quick "Wrath"). Ankenaten's vocals change at times, flowing nicely from more rasped and painful sounding, to even matching Darken of Graveland's drunken and throaty rasps. What I'd personally like to highlight here is the general atmosphere created via the excellent guitar parts created on this disc. It's truly masterful what has been done here, there's such a feeling of pain mixed with hatred that doesn't stop for one second. Riffs churn in violent fashions, and then quickly jump to quiet atmospheric sections that are truly amazing to listen to. Take the title track for example, the song starts out with a slow paced, fairly boring sounding riff, and then skips over to an almost "classic heavy metal/rock" meets black metal sound, and is filled with distortion and screeching vocals to create an feeling of near perfection. Although J.I will never put the U.S on the map in terms of black metal, simply because they don't create an over-produced, seemingly whored-album (I predict that will happen soon), they have heavily impressed me, and gained myself as a lover of their excellent music. Recommended to fans of Graveland or U.A.F.M/Transylvania Hunger era-Darkthrone.

1997 brand