posted on 5/2007 By:
Apparently enough folks have sought out the original Debemur Morti release of Cocaine to warrant the folks at Moribund Cult to rekindle the fires with a reissue. The album has also received a fair bit of positive press, which further stoked my enthusiasm when it recently hit the Metal Review doorstep. So, after nearly a dozen spins and more than a fair share of time spent in reflection, I can now comfortably say I’m pretty under-whelmed by the whole affair.
On paper, this album really should work. It has caustic capability, it’s very well played, and it pushes the black metal envelope without coloring too far outside the genre lines. Plus, the lion-share of the record is spent reeling at a delightfully epidemic, cavalcading-through-The-Apocalypse-with-your-face-on-fire pace that brings to mind bands such as Anaal Nathrakh, but instead of that band’s obvious nod towards Emperor, Italy’s V.E.G.A. (Vacuum Era Gelid Atmosphere) chooses to flavor their sound with a bit of the grit and discordance of latter era Gorgoroth or Darvulia, with occasional strays into industrial/dance-club beats. The trouble is, when V.E.G.A. fires off at breakneck speed, things sound completely manufactured, devoid of hook, and utterly emotionless -- almost as if someone plopped material from bands such as Ayat, Blodulv, or L’Acephale into a computer and asked it to perform a similar algorithm. Unfortunately, hell-bent acceleration does not always equate to viciousness, and Cocaine’s speed simply did not immolate and render to ash, as was obviously intended. And as implausible as it may seem, the level of preciseness at which these three members play during the album’s speedier moments -- especially the drummer -- only adds to the inorganic feel, especially when they pound down the final nail in the inert coffin: the overly effected, squalled vocals.
It’s not all bad, however. In fact, following the speedy, dry-humped-by-an-imp first tune, “Lilja”, V.E.G.A. manage to inject a fair bit of melodic guitar lickin’ to “Insex Infect” and “Perspectives”, which -- when offset by the general caustic pace -- brings about a surprisingly refreshing element to the formula. However, the moment is unfortunately fleeting, as the rest of the album abandons the melodic element in favor of a much more angular and discordant feel to the riffing. Interestingly enough, the band really seems to find their stride on the closing, self-titled tune. The 14-minute electronic jaunt, “Vacuum Era Gelid Atmosphere”, starts off scratchily and sounding more like a horror movie soundtrack before it eventually dives headfirst into a swirling, nearly techno-like number that conjures images of Michael Myers happily dancing about as he slips his machete into the sternum of the closest club girl.
I suppose when it comes to black metal incorporating mechanical and electronic elements, I much prefer the more organic, creepy methods employed by bands such as Blut Aus Nord, as opposed to what V.E.G.A. have chosen to display with Cocaine. This record simply failed to deliver the nastiness I believe it was intended to convey, and its automated delivery only added to my disappointment, leaving it as something I’ll probably not visit very often in the future.
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