A Gate Through Bloodstained Mirrors (Reissue)
posted on 4/2008 By:
To be blunt, I’ve never really liked Xasthur. I’m very much a fan of American black metal, and as such have made numerous attempts to gain an appreciation for Malefic’s music since his peculiar rise in underground popularity. But I always seem to come away disappointed in the long run. Some of his cavernous melodies can certainly be intriguing at times, but I’ve never been able to summon enough interest in this guy’s songwriting to get past the monotone programmed drums, gratingly over-distorted vocals, and largely redundant nature of his large discography.
So why did I sign up for a reissue of an hour-and-seventeen minute long Xasthur demo, you may ask? Well, for some reason I seem to have this recurrent and frustrating urge to keep giving this project one more chance in the hopes that I'll hear something that will really blow me away, and I’d heard various statements around the internet to the effect that A Gate Through Bloodstained Mirrors is one of the strongest releases by the band to date. I was also intrigued by the beautiful cover art and the presence of a Burzum cover. Unfortunately, my penchant for being disappointed by Xasthur albums was back in full effect once the music started. Big surprise.
In all seriousness, nothing about this release is overly offensive or poorly done. In fact, it can sound pretty good at times when the tempo slows down and the riffs just kind of wash over you. It's just so damn bland overall. I mean, how many times can this guy re-write the same song over and over again and still have people calling him a genius? The vocals are hilariously indistinct and fail to add anything to the music whatsoever (in fact, it's hard to even know when they come in), and almost all of the riffs lack energy and catchiness and just sort of plod along endlessly. There are some good bass-lines to be found, but at the expense of any real intensity in the guitars, and the production obscures most of the keyboards to almost complete irrelevance in most tracks--and this is a Xasthur recording! Songs like the epic(ly boring) “Suicide In Dark Serenity” and “Cursed Be The Memory Of Light” show some promise with fairly melancholy and hypnotic black metal passages, but still fail to stand out from the rest of the album in the long run because its all so devoid of emotion. Xasthur is always heralded as a “depressive” black metal band, but honestly, what’s so depressive about this music? I would think that for music, and especially metal, to be depressing that there would have to be some kind of real passion and intensity behind it all. This is not the case with A Gate Through Bloodstained Mirrors. Everything just turns into one long, fuzzy blur after a while, with next to nothing to remember after it's over.
I obtained some enjoyment out of this album by playing it in the background at night and having my attention drift in and out when a particular segment surfaced that caught my ear. But as a work to really be listened to carefully for its duration, A Gate Through Bloodstained Mirrors is nothing but a chore. If you call yourself a Xasthur fan, by all means make haste in picking up this mammoth reissue, as I'm sure it'll appeal to you at least somewhat. But this isn’t anywhere near noteworthy enough to recommend to anyone else.
At least the Burzum cover is pretty bad ass.
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