A few years ago I would have been obliged to give a detailed description of XASTHUR’s music, but now, due to their prolific proficiency, they have become a household name in the Black Metal community. Indeed, when you consider the fact that the “A Gate Through Bloodstained Mirrors” demo was only released in 2001, XASTHUR’s mass of quality creative output is simply phenomenal.
For any newbies out there, suffice to say that XASTHUR is among the most intensely depressing Black Metal there is, emanating an unending stream of hopelessness and utter despair. Firmly mid-tempo, the songs are based around similar structures to later (Metal) BURZUM, with heavy keyboards, harsh shrieks and wonderful use of melodic arpeggios and simple riffing.
However, all is not perfect. Because of the short space between releases, cracks have begun to show, with “Telepathic With The Deceased” and “To Violate The Oblivious” being only half the quality they should have been had only one been allowed to develop fully and coherently. Still, the quality balance of the two albums leaned very heavily towards the second and, in its own right, it started the ball rolling for the ultimate qualitative development of this album.
Yes, what “To Violate The Oblivious” had to offer was structure, and while it lacked songs of the brilliance of those found on XASTHUR’s earlier albums, the flow of it was near perfect, blending much more into an album than a grouping of intensely atmospheric songs. This trend has been continued on “Subliminal Genocide” to such an extent that I think this is the most complete album Malefic has ever released.
The songs too have taken a significant leap forward in quality and are easily of a comparable standard with his better material. Interestingly, the production contributes more than ever before to the claustrophobic mood, with the slightly larger sound losing nothing. The result is that every oppressive tone seems to close you in and it really feels like the room is shrinking around you.
The mild criticism and accusations of stagnation thrown at XASTHUR following his previous efforts are now ineffectual in the wake of such brilliance. Indeed, though this traverses no new territory, why bother when he can still create evocative releases of such spellbinding quality in this niche he clawed out for himself?
(Online November 18, 2006)