2002, XASTHUR released “Nocturnal Poisoning” on the unsuspecting Black Metal crowd and changed American Black Metal forever. Arguably the greatest debut album ever, and my personal favorite, “Nocturnal Poisoning” broke new ground with its ethereal, driving force, buzzing guitars and tortured vocals. Malefic took inspiration from the masters MÜTIILATION and BURZUM, and added his own tortured touch to the Black Metal styling.
The album opens up with “In The Hate Of Battle” a slow, keyboard driven piece with some of the most haunting melodies and ferocious vocals recorded. The monotone of the guitars melded with the keyboards to create and atmosphere akin to be suffocated, the production made it even mo so. “Soul Abduction Ceremony” is a slower piece, with a guitar driven lead, moving into a furious and hellacious scream and then into a soothing guitar piece once again, truly frightening music here!
The now infamous “A Gate Through Bloodstained Mirrors” made its third (of about a million) appearance(s) and perfected the use of Malefic’s voice as an instrument of its own, only creating disturbing shrieks in the background, adding pure terror to the release, a highlight of the album and US Black Metal as a whole. “Black Imperial Blood” (a MÜTIILATION cover) doesn’t even feel out of place, it’s like Malefic wanted to pay homage to the forefathers, and did it so well.
This leads us to what is probably my favorite track on the album, “Legion Of Sin And Necromancy”. This song must be what Hell sounds like, quickly moving from peaceful tranquility to utter chaos at the drop of a hat, with Malefic screeching his brains out as if his lungs didn’t belong in his body and he needed them out. This song is an 11 minute monster that lurks beneath the subtle waves of “Nocturnal Poisoning” only to come up to feed on the weak, honestly, this is one of the best songs, creating an atmosphere that is almost too much to bear.
And again we are hit with another fantastic track, “A Walk Beyond Terror”, pure genius and utter beauty wrapped in the package of filth and the blackest of Black Metal. Reverse melodies, crazy piano work and utterly insane vocals. PURE AND UTTER HORROR! That is the only sentence to define this song; it’s too much, too much. The title track is again, with no surprise, phenomenal, the production on this song changes slightly, focusing more on the vocals and keyboards, which is another thing to mention, the vocals on this song seem nonstop, like a stream of chaos, confusion and death. To quote Charles “I imagine if Lucifer himself would be caught on tape his raspy voice would sound similar to this recording.” No truer words have been said.
“Forgotten Depths Of Nowhere” brings this nightmarish journey to an end, with beautiful and monotone keyboards, repeating the same lulling melody over and over, to relieve the listener from the physically and mentally trying experience he just took.
Now normally I really do not like track by track reviews, they seem a little amateurish to me, but the sheer immense power of this release mandated that every song be justified in itself. Malefic can do no wrong, and even this early in his career, he showed that he was the Blackest of them all. “Nocturnal Poisoning” stands as a benchmark for modern Black Metal as a whole, and one man metal bands to come, from the vocal style that has been mimicked since, to the utter chaotic nature of the music, XASTHUR is and will be: the end all be all in Black Metal. The question isn’t if you can handle XASTHUR, but if you’re worthy.
(Online November 26, 2006)