Suicide In Dark Serenity
[Bestial Onslaught]

This is a mini-LP from Xasthur, a one-man American band that plays cold, depressive black metal.

Side A of "Suicide in Dark Serenity" starts off with an instrumental that has to be one of the strangest intros ever put to record. It's a wall of synth, effects, and tortured vocals, so bizarre that it was difficult to decide if I was even playing it at the correct speed.

Next, a simple drumbeat kicks in, and the black metal begins. The key word here is "obscure" - the guitar, synth, samples, and vocals are not so much layered as they are blended, creating a mass of noise. Here and there, the other instruments drop out, leaving one to stand alone in haunting counterpoint to the previous melody. Sound by sound, the melody is then rebuilt. This constant tension between clarity and obscurity gives Xasthur's music a deeply depressive quality.

Once again, I find myself impressed with the production on Xasthur's albums. Important melodies are clearly discernable, but everything else fades to a drone that gives amazing depth to the music. Even the vocals share this treatment. They're perfectly audible, yet distant, as if heard underwater. It's quite a distinctive effect, and one that fits the music well.

This album is similar in style to "Nocturnal Poisoning", but "Suicide in Dark Serenity" seems to advance the ideas of its predecessor, leading to a more unique sound. Hopefully this is a taste of what's in store for Xasthur's next CD, as a full-length album of this quality would be impressive indeed!

Standout tracks: "Suicide in Dark Serenity", "With Hate Freezing My Veins"

2003 vorfeed