Saturday, May 22, 2010

Viking Crown - Innocence From Hell

Viking Crown - Innocence From Hell
2000, Baphomet Records

Starting with a sound sample that is either from some schlock '60s horror/exploitation movie from Killjoy's collection or a random Hawaii Five-O episode on Satanism ('Satan was an acidhead'), this short collection of songs, intros, asides, set pieces, 'atmospheric' interludes (the best part of this record), keyboard workouts, etc. has been released more as an afterthought than anything else, coming into the breach left in the scene's 'interest' in these two men's (Killjoy of Necrophagia and Phil Anselmo of Pantera) other projects, most notably Necrophagia and their new 'band' Eibon. Killjoy, who proved that downtuning, horror movie sampling, a porn star, and 'gore lyrics' can move 20,000 units in the metal underground (wait - didn't Mortician already prove that?) has once again set out to take your money. You can't fault him for his marketing techniques - he knows his audience. Yes, the guitar riffs on this album were all played by Phil Anselmo, if you can believe that, and while Killjoy has stated (most recently in Ultima Comparatio, I believe) that Phil 'is utterly dedicated' and that 'you can't fake those riffs', I'm not really sure what's he referring to. This is really not anything spectacular - but rather amateurish and pedestrian in conception, execution, and delivery. 'Innocence From Hell' (what exactly does that title mean, by the way?) does have a dark vibe and feel to it, but it is more in the vein of soundtrack/film music than anything else, and these can only be called 'songs' beneath the widest interpretations of that word. For the most part they are two or three-riff repetitive displays of pointless 'exploration' or utterly talentless excuses for music. Sorry, but it's the truth. In the third song Anselmo tries his hand at creating spooky 'haunted house' sound effects with his guitar by vibrating the sixth string as fast as he can...yawn. I am not one to pointlessly bash Anselmo for trying to 'write' something a little darker than his main band's output, because I think that is an admirable decision on his part. If I was in Pantera I'd be aching for something a little more real as well. So far all he has come up with have been rudimentary, mawkish, awkward attempts at death or black metal stylistics. That is not out of the ordinary either, as most guitarists need a number of years to develop their technique and an original approach - it's just because he is connected and his circle have the necessary resources that we are hearing almost everything to come out of his rehearsal space. His necessary apparatus of self-criticism and self-censoring has been left vitiated and weak by all the ego-stroking that goes into his everyday life. To be fair, I am guessing here...I don't know these guys personally so I can't tell for sure what their motivations are. I also don't know the extent of Anselmo's legitimate interest in this kind of music or the level of talent he displays when he's not trying to 'purposely' record 'primitive black metal'. All I have to go on are the sounds coming out of my speakers as I play this record. However, having said that, I am sure this album would have been better served if it had been left on a tape somewhere under Anselmo's bed...the money they spent on this was completely wasted, and those resources could have been put towards releasing an album by a real band that deserved the exposure. As far as I can tell, this is yet another 'vanity' project by people who have more time and money than common sense.