Review Summary: Blasphemous antichristian warfare that will decimate the feeble hordes of Christ for centuries to come.
Black metal musicians used to take things seriously. Satanic lyrics were a reflection of power, hate and destruction, and keyboards were used to accentuate, not dominate. And then somewhere along the way, some asshole discovered airbrushing (typically with purple paint) and fruity loops, sending the genre into a downward spiral.
Black metal quickly became a parody of itself, as one band after the other began incorporating lugubrious usage of corpse paint and embarrassing jabs at Christianity. Bands started incorporating layers upon layers of wind noises; Jon Nödtveidt put his LaVeyan pandering on hold to commit some hate-crimes. Hell finally let loose when the USBM scene became dominated by artists making a career off of suicidal "will they/wont they?" taunting. When MySpace came about, the genre was at odds with itself; the threat of extinction becoming all the more realistic. Suddenly one man bands were aplenty.
Somewhere along the way, a little known, under-appreciated Toronto band was lost in the fray. While they were conventionally beguiled by typical stage names, Chorazaim and Blaspherion respectively, Megiddo nonetheless put their focus exclusively on heralding the finer days of black metal. The music, not the image. Not entirely fitted into the retro-black bandwagon established years later, Megiddo's sound falls comfortably in line with that of earlier Root, which is to say it bridges the gap between first and second wave black metal. Released in 2000, The Devil and the Whore
is an album that never fails to live up to its rightly earned cult status.
Teasing the listener at first, the album begins with apocalyptic sound clips. As destructive smashes clamour around, wind noises (yes, wind noises) subtly make the listener worry. One minute in, the title track begins and worry is set aside. Under-produced but clear as day, "The Devil and the Whore" attacks the listener, its pounding and overpowering drums demanding attention and, for those applicable, substantial hair whipping. If it wasn't implied strongly enough, the drums on this album absolutely slay, sounding as natural as can be, partially a reflection of the garage-like atmosphere that exudes from the album.
Megiddo rarely stray from their blackened blend of thrash and heavy metal, though it's not to say the album is formulaic; it merely concretes its intent early on. Typically midpaced, The Devil and the Whore
varies itself with the slower "Blackened", a heavily distorted anthem that mentions, in passing, the decimation of heaven and the bringing of death. As you could easily assume, the album is satanic and nihilistic in its lyrical approach, but it's an approach the band…approaches…meticulously, never taking fantasy and beliefs to the point of ridiculousness.
"The Oath"--not only the stand-out track on the album but one of the best black metal tracks in recent memory--is excellently delivered with both its brooding and memorable riffs and understated backup vocals. The perfect example of how to write Satanic and blasphemous lyrics without cueing ironic laughter, Chorazaim's somewhat distorted and groaned vocals deliver lines such as, "there is no sin I've not tasted, no blasphemy I've not embraced. No rule or law I've not broken, no scripture I have not defaced". While some will scoff at the somewhat elementary rhyming scheme, the lyrics often turn to simplicity for effectiveness. And it works.
As noted, the album is raw and under-produced, but not to an unbearable extent. The drums are as natural as you could want, and the guitars are distorted and laced with fuzz, not unlike the vocals. The band has found the perfect balance, mixing and presenting their sound a degree that allows you hear everything clearly without having it come off as fake and processed. The mix is quite loud, and better for it.
There are, sadly, some very minor faults that threaten the album's classic status. Firstly, it features two covers that, while excellent, are horribly placed just before the album's Outro, causing a hiccup in the album's flow. Conveniently enough, the only other flaw is found just before the aforementioned covers. I'll keep it concise, since "Across the Shores... Four Suns" doesn't; the track is about 6 minutes too long.
With its few faults aside, The Devil and the Whore
has easily solidified Megiddo in the minds of those who've heard them. One of the few albums to incite headbanging on my part, The Devil and the Whore
shall be ignored no longer. Hail Satan, or something.