Hopelessness, darkness, hate, and suffering would be four of the first words that come to mind when I think of this album. This, along with Nocturnal Poisoning, would be my picks for Xasthur's finest hour.
This album has two main parts; Ambient and Black Metal. Throughout the album Malefic does a great job of mixing the two into a seamless song with both Black and Ambient elements. Some tracks are not Black Metal in the slightest, such as Summon the End of Time, which happens to be one of my personal favorites. I think his ambient parts and passages make this album what it is. The Black Metal isn't anything extremely spectacular, but when mixed with the ambient, it's very unique and interesting.
The guitars on this album put out some very unique riffs. There is lots of arpeggiated dark sounding parts here with lots of distortion that are unique sounding. He lets each note ring out and creates a full layer of distortion, fuzz, and darkness. There are other parts that have a more traditional feel with tremelo picking, etc. that are very well done as well.
The vocals are shrieked and overflowing with negative emotion. Malefic does a very good job conveying what he's feeling through his screams, although the lyrics themselves aren't very special. The vocals are definetly a strong point here.
Since this is a one man project, it's not suprising that he uses a drum machine. However, the drum programming is done very well, and it's almost better than having a real drummer because having each cymbal and drum hit sound the same adds a lot of the atmosphere and gives it a trance-like feel. The drums stay fairly mid paced, but sometimes drop into a very slow section or a more quick paced one. Nothing too special or complex here, though.
The bass, unlike a lot of Black Metal is very audible, and doesn't always just play root notes. There are times when the bass sounds more like the main instrument than the guitar or keyboards, so bassists will like this. The basslines are not complicated, but they're unique and they fit the music well.
Speaking of keyboards, they're absolutly essential on this album. The dark sounding interludes, the chilling melodies going on behind a wall of distortion and drums, and the extra layer of sound all make this album what it is. Without the keyboards, this would be much weaker and less interesting. Malefic does a very good job of using them when they fit and not in abundance. They're also not just there to back up everything else. Some songs sound as though they're written around a keyboard melody rather than the guitar like most black metal.
This album is not for the casual listener who wants to hear some well produced piece of music. This is far more about the overall feel and atmosphere, which are both very unique. There are times where you can't hear exactly what the guitar, bass, or keyboards are doing, but when you stop concentrating on one thing and listen to the overall picture the album starts to make more sense.
Each instrument in itself is not very complex, complicated, or extremely interesting, but when combined with the others, it makes for a very interesting listen. Malefic does a good job of giving each instrument an important part and not concentrating too much on just one.
Extremely dark, thick, and depressing atmosphere.
Very unique and fresh ideas.
Well written and thought out music.
Great mix of Ambient and Black Metal.
Difficult to hear what's going on at times.
Dwell Beneath the Woods of Evil
Storms of Red Revenge
Summon the End of Time