Azrael
Obdurate/Unto Death

This disc is for all those Xasthur fans looking for a fix. Long dense songs, many better than ten minutes, with distant rumblings, subsonic screams, and guitars so distorted not only can you barely make them out, they obscure nearly everything else as well. For those not in the know, this is not a new release, but a reissue of the first true release, Obdurate, and the demo Unto Death, both getting the remaster treatment, though truth be told, I’m not sure what the hell got remastered. I do not have to tell you that this means raw, primal, visceral black metal, even more so than on the early Act discs, of course it is, it’s a demo after all.

So the question is why do you care. I’ll start with why I care. Obdurate was my introduction to the band that hails from Eden Prairie Minnesota, a place in which I existed for five years working in a freezer a bit over a decade ago. That is why I gave them a chance back then, plain and simple. I had never heard the demo. I enjoy the three most recent Acts, and if you do as well you are aware that they are more streamlined and cleaner in form as one moves forward in time. With this re-release we get to move backward in time.

Weather it is the echo effect laden distortion piece “Noise Ritual” or the pure black metal with ample distortion of “Unto Death” with the completely indecipherable vocals or the chaotic noise with blast beats of “Obdurate”, there is something for everyone here. By everyone I mean that in the narrowest meaning of the word possible. The best songs are “Opening of the Tomb” with wicked guitar lines and “Cthonic Gurgling” which lives up to the name. If it was not for the guitar lines often you would assume the disc is skipping.

For those that do not get the point, put early Darkthrone through a noise filter, add noise, and strip out the majority of guitar melodies. It is hard to outdo Darkthrone but that is the general idea. The voice as instruments experiment begins here for the band. There are still words, they lose those later. Get the rumble going, add static, filter in random notes on guitar, making sure they are linear arraingements independent of anything else, and you start to see the point. If the point of black metal is to strip out all traces of musicality and make harsh grating impenatrable noise off-putting to the masses, then Azrael is relevant. They are not the most accomplished at this style but they succeed admirably. It shows where they came from and makes you appreciate where they have arrived at today.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Grimulfr
December 16th, 2008

Comments

  1. Commented by: gabaghoul

    so is the cello/contrabass present? that was my favorite element of Act II.


  2. Commented by: Dimaension X

    This is even worse than parts I and II. I absolutely love parts(CDs) III and IV. But these two demos just sound like a good idea that drags on WAY TOO LONG.

    I’m surprised they got any distribution based on these recordings. Just Awful.

    But I love their third and fourth albums.


  3. Commented by: gabaghoul

    I liked II but the songs did drag on and become background music eventually. So what did he do different with III and IV?


  4. Commented by: Cynicgods

    If this is anything like Spektr in terms of scope and sound I’m on it like flies on a dead cow’s corpse.


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