Review Summary: After listening to this album multiple times, the only thing that has made me depressed was shear boredom I received from this 70 minute yawn fest.
The idea of “depressing black metal”, at first, seemed like a very intriguing concept. Often, black metal is used to create interesting atmospheres, through the less than clear production values. So the idea of metal that would make one disheartened and bring them into the very depths of despair certainly has the potential to be an indescribable experience. One of the leading acts in North American black metal, Xasthur, has been credited as a pioneer and top act in the “depressing” black metal movement. What I did not know was that Xasthur would not sadden me, but bore me to the point of insanity.
Xasthurs’ most recent release, Subliminal Genocide
, is one reason that the North American black metal scene has been looked at as boring and uninteresting. What is so tedious about this album anyway? There are many rudiments that Xasthur or “Malefic” combine together that give this album a very droning and monotonous feel. The production is extremely typical of black metal making it hard to decipher some of the instruments at times, not to mention there is a very annoying static buzz scattered throughout in everything. Nattens Madrigal was able to succeed with very similar production values simply based on musical merit, whereas this album, to you, has little to no musically redeeming aspects.
Malefics’ vocals are excessively distorted on this album. His screech is like a weaker less powerful version of Varg Vikernes on Filosofem
. When all is said and done, he sounds like he’s trying too hard to convey depression and rage, which in turn, severely lessens their quality. Xasthurs’ lyrical themes are generally about suicide and other unpleasant topics. The dilemma with his lyrics, is that they seem to all show the same thought process and idea through all the songs. For example, “Poison yourself... revel in waste, poison yourself, in the name of evil... destroy yourself.”, this is just one of the many reoccurring examples of weak and bland lyric writing.
is not an utterly worthless album. Xasthur does manage to generate many intriguing and haunting atmospheres throughout this album, although, atmospheres are only useful if there is quality music to back them up. Sadly, Malefic tends to use one uninteresting riff and utilize it through the entire song. All of the songs are very drug out and tiring because of this fact. Another major distraction to enjoying this album is the way the drum machine is used. The drumming is very simple, always relying on the same beat over and over again through the songs. The bottom line is that percussion seems awfully indolent, and contributes nothing constructive to this CD.
Another underlying issue with the songs is that the vocals and instruments are all very imbalanced. It seems as though all of the instruments only act as background noise for the overdone vocals. This is an immense problem, largely due to the poor vocal work, and the lingering fact that the guitar work is almost wholly uninteresting. Xasthur seems to have a hard time changing up any of his material. Not only do Xasthurs’ songs show a miniscule amount of variation, but all of his albums as a whole do. Perhaps if Malefic did not just repeat the same structure used in previous releases like A Gate Through Bloodstained Mirrors
this would seem like a more interesting album.
In the world of black metal, there have been artists who can display feelings of anger, despair and hate without being over the top or pitiable. Whenever I listen to Xasthur and read his lyrics, I do not feel for him or suddenly have the urge to harm myself. Instead I cannot help but think “Man that Malefic is one pathetic individual.” this is not a thought I want to have when listening to black metal. Subliminal Genocide
clocks in at just over 70 minutes. In order for this album to become more enjoyable, it would need to be cut in half. The songs are much too long for their own good, and it doesn’t help that they are tedious as can be.
is surely one of the blandest black metal albums I have ever listened to. Between the horrid vocals, the repetitive instrumental work, and the pitiful lyrics, Xasthur has really settled with mediocrity with this album. Yes, at times, there’s a redeeming sense of atmosphere. Sadly the poor quality of the music detracts from its effect. It would please me to say this is simply fluke in the Xasthur discography, but sadly this album is no worse, or better than any of Malefics’ releases. Avoid this album if you do not wish to waste 70 minutes of your life on a boring, repetitive attempt at “depressing” black metal.
Final rating 2/5