Release DetailsLABEL Total Holocaust Records
RELEASED ON 2/1/2005
Canonisation of the Foul Spirit
posted on 5/2005 By:
To many, myself included, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas remains, to this day, THE black metal record, a bloodstained monument of unadulterated perversity that remains unsurpassed by any of the shameless plagiarists that have germinated in their wake. Of the torrents of black metal records currently saturating record shelves, only Darkthrone’s Transylvanian Hunger, Master’s Hammer’s Ritual, Samael’s Worship Him and Tormentor’s Anno Domini deserve to be mentioned within the same breath, though in all fairness none of these records even begin to approach the transcendentally macabre feel of Mayhem’s landmark recording. Here was a band that had freed itself from the rudimentary trappings of their previous demos and sculpted their nebulous sound into something far more captivating than even the trance-inducing, atavistic sloppiness of Deathcrush. Simply put, DMDS is the sound of misanthropic spite distilled and cohered into cacophonous hymnals, stark venomous bile regurgitated via chillingly minimalist soundscapes. The whole album, even today, feels surreal and nightmarish, as though it were recorded in some alternate dimension, as though forces were at work to create a testament to infernal majesty. It exists on some otherworldly plateau, a creation spawned from a metaphysical level of consciousness.
Of course, Mayhem’s fortunes have declined with the storied demise of Euronymous and Dead, the notorious Hellglammer fogging up the subversive focus of the original formation with incomprehensibly messy, cybernetic sounds. With the glorification of the Mayhem legend, certain bands have risen to rest their corpse painted posteriors upon Oystein Aarseth’s frigid throne. Of these, Watain and Inquisition have attracted the most favorable plaudits, each absorbing the hellish doctrines of DMDS and projecting them with renewed vigor. Throw France’s Hell Militia into the fray, then, for though they blatantly pilfer from Mayhem’s insurmountable legacy, they manage to infuse their blatant idolatry with plenty of believable conviction and caustic spite, in turn outdoing many of their contemporaries at the Connect-The-Freezing-Moon game.
From the opening strains of “Psalm I- Burning Human Pigs”, it is painfully obvious who Hell Militia owe their sonic debt to. Dissonant, layered guitars and frosty Hellhammer-esque blasts erupt into a flesh-flaying, searing reinterpretation of the formulas pioneered by Norway’s proudest export. 02:40 into the track, and we have the requisite sparse guitar passage buried beneath squalls of dissonant white noise and feedback, a brief reprieve from the impending malevolent onslaught. Everything is so well-emulated here, shit, check out the Dead worshipping vocals, absolutely on par with even the most tormented, putrescent Dead performances (Live In Leipzig, anyone?). It almost feels like everything in this record is deliberately hammered and crafted to be a living, breathing homage to a ubiquitous legend, and if it weren’t so engaging I would be the first to scream bloody murder and peg them as two-bit pretenders with little more to offer than insipid mimicry.
Yet, one cannot deny the sheer force of the compositions on offer here. The songwriting here is among the best I’ve heard in quite some time- transitions are flawless, and there is a VERY keen sense of dynamics at work here that draws a most favorable comparison to their revered forefathers. “Black Arts Of Crime” exudes a truly haunting, phantasmal feel, the drummer doing a great job at evoking atmosphere with stark hi-hat/tom patterns. The track proceeds to shift seamlessly into a full-speed, blasting passage, tainted by genuinely unsettling screams and the enveloping, impenetrable billows of sound that the guitars conjure. Fuck! This is great stuff! Somehow, all my most cynical impulses are aroused every time I listen to this record, but they are abruptly extinguished, quashed by the sterling songcraft that prevails from first minute to last. While I typically DESPISE blastbeat-driven black metal, or blastbeat-driven metal in general, the drummer here displays a laudable finesse for playing at various blistering speeds (ie fast, faster, and warp speed, with loads of rolls wedged in between), as well as playing very minimally when the need arises, establishing most pleasing parallels to the unmistakable stylings of Inquisition’s Incubus. He plays within the parameters of the song and exemplifies everything an extreme metal drummer SHOULD be- frantic when the song demands it, economical and calculating when the need surfaces.
A few words should be spared for the production here, which is COMPLETELY uncharacteristic of a Total Holocaust recording. Everything is thick and hefty, and it is apparent that considerable thought has been placed into shaping the right sound for each instrument- the drums have been tuned to sound like HAMMERS, and the guitar sound is filthy and unhinged, yet clean enough to allow the nuanced dynamics to really peer through the claustrophobic haze. For such a small label release, this record is absolutely on par with any of the bigger budget Osmose recordings, with trebles and basses equally well defined.
While one may assert that AntaeuS and Arkhon Infaustus have been playing this style for far longer than these fellows, I think this record is far more interesting than anything either of those established bands have issued to date. In fact, of the current crop of grim, blasting Gauls, I’d venture to say that only Ad Hominem have released an effort this dynamic, bombastic and consistently intriguing.
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