Saturday, May 15, 2010

Bloodstorm - Pestilence from the Dragonstar

Bloodstorm - Pestilence from the Dragonstar
2000, Soul Sold Music

Bloodstorm exist in a space that balances perfectly between the genres of black and death metal - perhaps because they take something of an 'old school' approach to songwriting and the construction of their melodies, never making either of these elements too complex or too obscure for the listener to misunderstand their intent. While their lyrics may evoke or summon realms of elder magick that the novice might find a little too overwhelming at first, this band launches right out at you from the starting gate, and they never sink into ponderous subtleties in their chaotic guitar compositions. No, they'd rather just the batter the hell out of you. I love this kind of music because it is 'brutal' without being ridiculous or indecipherable, and it allows the musicians to express a great deal of passionate anger or hatred without going over the edge into cynical anti-listener 'atonal' wanderings. This is highly listenable, all the while, just like the bands that probably inspired this group of stalwarts. I don't really want to compare this to any one group of bands from the past specifically, although there are tones and shades of a lot of '80s metal in this (I hear Celtic Frost), and the closest I think any other band has come to this style of music would be the two first releases from Destroyer 666 (looking at it backwards, of course) - there's a segment/riff in the third song 'The Chaos Magician' (starting at about 2:55, and then again at 3:35) that sounds exactly like D666, amazingly enough. Bloodstorm employ a similar aesthetic as that group of Aussie warriors: speed bordering on the edge of losing control, drums splashing and crashing everywhere, simple accelerating riffs that follow manic melodies, a vocalist (the band leader Mezzadurus) screaming almost constantly, etc. In other words: good, solid, traditional, occult-obsessed black thrash (for lack of a better term) that doesn't really break any new ground, but which doesn't disappoint in any way either.

For the first few listens, the songs on this album ran completely together for me...it sounded like one long 50-minute death thrash epic opus, and I was stunned by their intensity. I'm sure that seeing this band play live must be exhausting - they allow themselves little room for rest in the course of their material, and I think they are happiest when they feel like everything is about to collapse from a sheer overload of energy. After a few more spins, the tracks began to differentiate themselves from each other, and I was able to find especially pleasing riffs and melodies, if not whole songs. It is difficult for me to pin down exactly what it is that makes this band work for me - you know what a futile task it is these days to try to describe or categorize bands when they are blending styles right and left, but I enjoy this in the same way that I enjoy the Australian thrash bands or other groups like Nifelheim or Aura Noir: they offer a certain level of pure aggressiveness and flailing violence in their music that has been missing from metal for a long time. It's useless to try to label this as black metal or death metal or retro thrash or place it in whatever subgenre you can think of - what's the use? They combine elements of everything into a holocaust that would shame a lot of their influences...