Review Summary: Exactly what it says on the tin.
Few albums have as charming a name as the seminal debut from Antaeus, Cut Your Flesh And Worship Satan. However, this is typical of what black metal is about lyrically, with many of the bands out there choosing to focus on anti-Christianity and suicide. Bands such as Mayhem focused on the former, with Shining taking on the latter, and bands such as Burzum having the best of both words, with the tortured musician responsible venting his feelings through beautiful compositions. In a similar manner to how the title is typical of black metal, much of the music on display here is very typical of much of the more accessible black metal out there.
Devotee kicks off the blasphemous rout with a minute of guitar feedback before the song kicks in proper. Blast beats are the main course of this song, with various tremolo picked riffs and a few slower ones found throughout, with some nice bass work being particularly audible towards the end of the song, when everything calms down a little, instead of the bezerk style that the song had showcased so far. This is a brutal album opener, that serves as the perfect introduction to the craziness that is to come from this album.
Across the entire album, the listener is gifted a glorious array of riffs, from the tremolo picked riffs that define black metal through to the slower, much more thrashy style. Many of the riffs on this album are as tight as can be asked, but they do become repetitive. It is only so many times that one can be forced to listen to a flurry of notes played as fast as possible before it all becomes too monotonous to bare. Bleeding Blasphemy is the best example of this, being full speed ahead for the first half of the song, which fast becomes boring. However, the middle section of it is a lot slower, with more emphasis on laying down a solid groove whilst the vocalist shrieks and growls his way through the usual bible bashing lyrics so typical of the genre. The first half of this song is one of the weakest moments on the album, before the more interesting riffs seep through towards the end of the song.
The vocalist of this band is effeminately one of their strongest aspects, having a fairly wide range for a black metal vocalist. His screams come in a number of tones, having a real power behind them, never once coming off as feeling weak nor underwhelming. He frequently switches it up to a low death growl, which serves as the perfect contrast for the styling of the music, giving the band a real asset to be proud of. This guy is undoubtedly among the best in the genre at what he does, for the simple fact that he has a wider range than many.
One thing that is, for the most part, missing from this album that is found on many black metal albums is the building of an atmosphere. Many black metal albums use their songs to create a truly haunting atmosphere and, in turn, make the album one harrowing experience for the listener alongside the brutality of the music. That contrast of beauty with utter insanity is something that made albums such as Burzum's debut and many Darkthrone albums so good. However, on here, only a couple of tracks really have any form of atmosphere to them, with the song writing formula clearly being speed based. The hyper fast blast beats may well be a huge plus to the album, but its this full throttle style of playing that inhibits them from creating said atmosphere that would give this album its much needed variation.
This album is a solid enough debut that never comes close to threatening the big guns, but instead sticks to its own, well crafted sound. The abundance of tremolo picked riffing throughout this album is its one major downside in that it fast becomes tiring, but the drumming and vocal work more than counteract this. If the band had spent a little time trying to develop a feeling of dread or sorrow throughout this album akin to bands such as Burzum, then this would have real credibility as one of the best in the genre. However, as it stands, this album is just a great black metal album, nothing more and nothing less.