2000, Self-Release (also released on Blood Fire Death Records)
One of the attractions of so called 'true' black metal music - or, to put all of those negative associations aside right now, the kind of black metal that is honest, straightforward, and which comes from the heart instead of the purse's greed - is the fervent display of emotion on hand. Here, on these kinds of recordings, we get closest to why many people consider black metal to be the 'new punk', i.e., we arrive closest to the artists and their inspirations, their emotions, and their most basic motivations in a straight line, the shortest possible distance between our understanding and their desire to express themselves. When you put everything else but the motivations behind the music aside: all the propoganda, scene dealing, shoulder rubbing and back patting, sycophancy, etc. you come to the heart of this music and the reasons why people decide one day that it's necessary to get out of bed and form a black metal band. What other form of music allows you such ready instruments for expressiveness - what genre gives itself so easily to the venting of frustration, rage, despair, etc.? What other form of music is so cathartic? What other form of music is so satisfying for the young artists who are disenchanted, drowning in violence, rebellious to a fault, filled with hatred, and craving justice? And what other form of music is so satisfying to listen to for those of us who feel the same way?
Kult ov Azazel play an extremely raw, high speed, cutting form of primitive black metal, and they excel primarily in two areas on this demo recording: the vitriolic, acid-drenched vocals, launched forth flying to scar your ears, and the rhythm work on these songs, which really stands out among their amateurish peers. As for the vocals, they are bestial, rabid, exciting, animalistic, and gut-wrenchingly honest. Kult ov Azazel are willing adherents to the reserve of the Primal Scream, that most basic, primitive, ancient instinct. No one would ever mistake these vocals for the 'produced', practiced, boring rote breathings of the fancy-filled black metal establishment. Instead, I believe the vocal style on display here is exactly what black metal has always called for and which it needs a new injection of every now and then: they are lacerating, involving, cataclysmic, and brutally honest; they fill the listening space with a tortured soul's sound and fury, with ill-bled, blenching, distorted pain. The last time I heard this style of total vocals wipeouts from a black metal band was on the Thornspawn demo tapes. Excellent.
The drumming on these songs is also worthy of notice, as it propels this material far past the usual standards of raw black metal into new territory - approaching deathgrind at times in its skull-smashing, pulsing acceleration.
In fact, I was going to start this review by comparing this band to older, more established acts in other genres or scenes. What's really interesting and eye-opening to me is the way American black metal bands twist or mutate the genetic code in cells at the center of other genres and make the styles their own. I wouldn't hesitate to compare this music (especially the first few songs on this tape) to old Napalm Death, for example, circa 'Scum' or 'From Enslavement to Obliteration'. This music shares the aesthetics of those releases: the chaos and all-consuming energy that sweeps everything before it. The guitars back this up: the riffing is, for the main part, simple one-two, one-two-three cycles of power chords sliding repeatedly through the lower registers, intercut with tremelo-grinding to add variety or more relaxed open strumming and clean breaks. To be faithful, actually, this band reminds me of no other band so much as the Japanese grindcore heroes S.O.B. - Kult ov Azazel exist in the same hellish landscape as those oft-neglected pioneers.
So, to sum up, if you are sick of all over-produced black metal bands clogging up the arteries of the scene these days, and if you feel like you need a break of fresh air, a purifying, burning wind to excoriate those listening canals and clean them of detritus, contact this growing group of possessed musicians and support their dark crusade. We need more bands like this.
Note: this band also has a split CD with Krieg on Blood Fire Death in the works, and the material they sent me from that is even more vicious than this recording, so watch out for that release.