Black Scenery Avatar (Reissue)
posted on 1/2009 By:
If you were commissioned to compile a list of essential reissues, what would it contain? The Chasm's early albums? Demilich's Nespithe on double gatefold vinyl? Babylon Whores' King Fear (if it's not on your list, it should be, dammit...)? Whatever your personal wishlist may have on it, it's highly doubtful that Israthoum's 2004 MCD Black Scenery Avatar made the cut. Like it or not, it's been resurrected for your consumption. And while it certainly sucks when a piece of art ceases circulation, sometimes you need to assess the situation and simply let natural selection run its course. Some things weren't meant to live forever.
Truth be told, all indications - from the hackeneyed "blacker than black" cover art to the painfully cliched "thunder roll/falling rain" intro - pointed to this being outright awful. Surprisingly, it's not, but it's still miles from worthwhile. In fact, this is about as nondescript as a black metal album can get.
Hailing from the Netherlands, Istrathoum's sound is more in line with the Greek and/or German scenes than anything, plunking away with a too-clean thickness reserved for bands like Order of the Ebon Hand, Negator, and Dark Fortress. The glorious riffing and pitch-black electricity that those bands employ is glaringly absent, however. The only thing keeping Black Scenery Avatar from drowning in a sea of vanilla is their liberal synth use, which follows the early Emperor/early Borknagar mold of accentuation rather than grandiosity - but that's not to say it's well done. As is the case with every other element of this recording, the usage will be painfully predictable to anyone with cursory experience with post-Second Wave European blackness. Couple these flaccid flourishes with some outright amateurish riffing ("The Storm That Lies Ahead", "Guidance"), and there's enough shrug-worthy material here to fully eclipse the moments of thrashy potential that worm their way into "The Ghostly Hour" and "Dimensions".
This band has been kicking around since 1992, but this is their only significant release. It is assumed that this reissue is to serve as a primer for the band's as-yet-unreleased full-length, Monument of Brimstone, but if it took the band 12 years to produce something this mundane, it's hard to believe that they've exponentially improved in a mere 5 more. Pessimism aside, here's hoping that the band has an ace up their collective sleeve, and their next contribution is a noteworthy one.
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