Saturday, May 22, 2010

Unholy Archangel - split EPs with Thornspawn, Lust, and Kult

Unholy Archangel - split EPs with Thornspawn, Lust, and Kult
2000, Self-Release

I am putting all of this material together in one review because I received a CD-R containing these selections from the band instead of the 7" EPs themselves, and so I can not comment on the offerings from the other bands paired up with Unholy Archangel on those releases, namely being: the split 7" EP with Thornspawn, and the 3-way split EP with Kult and Lust.

First we have tracks one through six on this CD, from the split with Thornspawn. For the most part I believe this is past demo material, and so I am not sure what relation it bears to the band's current sound. As the songs advance from the beginning one definitely gets a sense of progression in terms of their sheer speed, chaotic intent, and destructive capability. The last song, 'Anal Jehovah' (no, I am not making that up), is, as you might expect, about sodomizing the Lord of the World himself, and then 'killing his family' - i.e., Mary and the infant Jesus. In a few lines this song adequately sums up the entire blasphemous process of underground black metal, and burns through a few simple riffs like hot rusty nails through the wrists of the Nazarene. While its English-as-a-second-language obviousness might bring a smile to your face, I believe there are opportunities and advantages to just being brutally basic and getting directly to the point in songs like this. Perhaps we have had enough of the Nordic bands and their constant appeal to 'obscurity' or 'amorphous darkness'. Perhaps what the world needs now are some hot-blooded Greeks with a talent for brutal simplicity - for divine southern European unambiguity. Perhaps not. Apart from that, there are a few other noteworthy songs here, for the most part based on very simple overly-distorted guitar chord progressions - a very rapid cycling through perverted punk power chord riffs and moaning bends - and a drummer set on constant overdrive. Added in are some short manic guitar solos as well as a few samples, one of them being, I believe, from the movie 'Bram Stoker's Dracula'...I could be wrong about that, though. As the songs peel off your ears going from the first to the sixth here, the Rotting Christ influence that one might expect begins to fade (the evil opening/main riff in 'Blessed by Aris' is particularly inspired - this is easily the best song on this entire CD). For the most part it stays only in the vocals, as the hastily shouted lines here bear a distinct resemblance to the Rotting Christ demo material - but it may just be the production afterall...I don't listen to enough underground Greek black metal to be able to pick out miniscule differences or to comment on idiosyncracies. This music seems like an ideal compliment to Thornspawn's own brand of whirlwind barbarism, although it makes their straightforward material seem complex and technical in comparison. We have the true underground spirit here, readers...

Now we come to tracks seven through ten on this short CD, the material recorded to be paired with Kult and Lust. Consisting of three Hellenic songs, 'Fall of the Titans', 'Hail Apollo', and 'Possessed by Hecate', one can see immediately that Unholy Archangel have turned even more towards using their own nation's (and the rest of the world's) mythological heritage as a springboard to launch further blasts of blasphemous intent. The guitar sound on these hymns to desecration is different from the earlier material, bearing even more of a resemblance to 'Satanas Tedeum' (that hollow, reverb-drenched midrange effect), but are you really surprised by that? For the most part the chainsaw six string rips through exquisitely basic power chord downstrokes and tremelo-picking sections in chaotic (there's that word again) runs through bizarre abstract melodies and the necessary contrasting (or commenting) segments. The drums are more in-your-face than ever, and the overall production sound of these songs seems to have improved from the earlier material. Interesting.

In any case, what is worthwhile in this music (at least to me) is to see the very beginnings of what could be, in the future, a very powerful war metal band, if they continue to concentrate on bringing out the raw, primitive, Bacchic nature of their material. Also it is just refreshing to hear black metal from Greece again, and to witness a band that concentrates more on the spirit of violent release and obvious rebellion rather than symphonic flights into out this band if you are at all interested in what pure underground black metal sounds like...