Xasthur - Nocturnal Poisoning review
|Release date:||September 2002|
01. In The Hate Of Battle
02. Soul Abduction Ceremony
03. A Gate Through Bloodstained Mirrors [Mütiilation cover]
04. Black Imperial Blood
05. Legion Of Sin And Necromancy
06. A Walk Beyond Utter Blackness
07. Nocturnal Poisoning
08. Forgotten Depths Of Nowhere
Published by Blood, Fire, Death, under the American Red Stream Productions, Xasthur is a Black Metal project coming from the US, started in 1996 by the founder Malefic, who, after some line-up problems and clashes with the other members, is now a one-man band. After some demos between'98-'99 and a first LP in 2001 for Profane/Makahru Xasthur is currently on its second full-length album. If you think of a BM one-man band, how could you not think of Burzum? And in fact it seems that Burzum itself is the main musical (and artistic... the CD cover layout style resembles a lot the one of some Vikernes' album, 'Hvis Liset Tar Oss' mainly) inspiration of this band, since what Malefic proposes are six (often long-lasting) tracks (for a total of 69:10minutes) of a harsh and depressive BM. Not only do we find full-speed drums but also slow decadent parts and short acoustic and synth interludes, always between two oppressive walls of distorted, ethereal and disturbing guitar sounds, all mixed with screamed and shivering vocals. The overall impression is to be cast into a black whirlwind, which envelops you in dark and obscure sounds.
Some think that BM has to have a bad production in order to sound more grim and evil, but, could a good production improve the overall impression and would it enable the listener to hear something which otherwise would be confused and covered by other instruments? Of course, we are here considering an underground band which has no possibility of recording in well-known studios in order to obtain a bombastic sound, but I am convinced that this dirty sound we find in Xasthur album was a precise choice of Malefic during the mixing process. If it were so I have to say that it's a shame, because lots of good ideas, and original parts of the songs appear a bit shrouded. The same goes for the vocals, some of the most extreme I've ever heard, both screamed and filtered, in order to sound like a lightning storm: too low compared to the rest and at first listening you may confuse them with a distorted guitar and, of course, it is impossible to recognize a single word, at least without the lyrics. Anyway, I wouldn't say that it ruins it all, because the dirty sound creates a good and oppressive atmosphere, and the vocals seems to come from abyssal spaces far away, but a better recording would have without doubt improved the quality of good songs like 'A Walk Beyond Utter Darkness' or the long and epic title track, and it would remove that annoying background noise. One thing that really bothered me is that sometimes the songs are interrupted too harshly and even inside a single song different parts are badly connected. Today, we question ourselves about the meaning left in the "modern" BM movement, and I think that currently there are lots of copycat bands which blindly follow the style of the prime-mover Norwegian bands without an inch of originality and new ideas. On the contrary I think that Xasthur are on the right track, starting from the classical BM trend and following it, to evolve and propose something less predictable, maintaining the same oppressive mood.
I'm looking forward to seeing the future products of this band.
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