Mastema is one of those fiends of the black metal satanic underground that surfaces only to deliver concentrated, though minimalist, doses of the most alienating, horrific metal music. Armed with nothing more than voice, drums and a guitar (sometimes two, and there may be a bass guitar somewhere in there), perfected black metal phrasings create dizzying, soul-destryoing fluxions that are surprisingly at their most efficient and convincing when slow. This is a record in two parts, which appear to have been two distinct recording sessions, perhaps channeled in the way that automatic writing or drawing is by hands deft and experienced in their art. Mastema is a project with a very solidly defined voice, unwavering in intent, formulation or ultimate realization. Chromaticism and repetition of short but expressive riffs are used towards creating a sonic vector, with a clear direction and magnitude.
The first part, The Grand Holocaust of Flesh, comprises the untitled tracks I-VI, and it functions as a setting loose, a search that goes through different trials and preparations for trance. It is here that we find the dance-like rhythms, the driving power chord , and the maniacal laughing that is the beginning of actualized frenzy. This is not to say that specific elements are only found in either of the parts and is not found in the other, but rather that an inclination towards a different mood is present through the distinct, though characteristic, use of those elements. The tracks on this first half of the album can be seen as enthusiastic and maddened exhortations, invitation of dead things to come forth.
The second part, Anti, comprises the untitled tracks VII-XV, and is where Mastema unfold a putrid connection to the dark. Here we are no longer abiding by the rules of these our dimensions, here we are no longer encased in our prisons of flesh —these were burnt, holocausted, by our “passing through” the act of spiritual self-immolation. Where before we found an impulse towards delirium, an unhinged mindlessness, the present act shows us minds infused by a abyssmal non-entity, inimical to normal modes of existence. That is, now there is a focus, an unwavering eye transfixed in a moment beyond the moment, an “ever-opening flower”, in a state of timeless eternity, perpetual destruction neverending, thwarted creation.
The Grand Holocaust of Flesh is a record that distinguishes itself from the majority of self-styled raw black metal in that its crudeness is not a way to obfuscate but rather to enhance the power and clarity of the musical statements. Individual sections create spaces, where they revel as if there were nothing else, often indulging in some repetition, though only for emphasis and furtherance, never gratitiously. At the same time, there is a sense of fluency in which the hand-guided transition method of Hellhammer can be heard, a highly idiomatic usage of the guitar-object that serves well within this chromaticism-based music of ‘spaces’. Within those spaces, a forceful insistence guides the natural adept, beyond his own rationality, beyond sanity, and it is only a willing towards evil that allows here a steady course of action…
“Never forget that Black Metal has to be dangerous…”