JUDAS ISCARIOT is a name that lives on in infamy in the Black Metal scene. Akhenaten has crafted some of the best albums to come out of the States and he has also proved (along with KRIEG, BLACK FUNERAL) that United States Black Metal (USBM) is no joke. Although the death of JUDAS ISCARIOT was as sudden and as unexpected as the Biblical character it’s named after, it goes without a doubt that Akhenaten and his monster JUDAS ISCARIOT will forever leave a scar on the Black Metal world.
“Distant In Solitary Night” was JUDAS ISCARIOT’s fourth full length and arguably Akhenaten’s best work of all time. The thing about this album that caught my eye was the cover artwork. Two figures, somberly moving through a cold forest, wrapped up in winter clothing, using a cane, perhaps an older figure, carrying what looks to be a cross, perhaps a funeral march? I don’t know as I don’t know who the artist is, but something called me to it. I would say that this album is the coldest feeling out of all the JUDAS ISCARIOT albums, everything about it, from the icy chilled guitars to the distant vocals, it all fits and freezes.
The album begins with the icy blast of “The Winds Stand Silent” which is not appropriately titled as it sounds like there is a blizzard going on in this song. The drums are furious and the vocal work is the most venomous performance Akhenaten has ever given, sounding like an even more cynical than ever, Akhenaten uses a bit less range this time, but more aggressive vocal patterns, digging into your skull as he spits his acid. “Where The Winter Beats Incessant” is one of my favorite JUDAS ISCARIOT songs, with its droning riffs and static drumming, the melodic overtones subtly accenting the riffs, fantastic indeed.
“The Clear Moon, And The Glory Of The Darkness” is a triumphant ambient JUDAS ISCARIOT track, at a massive 7 minutes, this song perfectly breaks up the speed and aggressive nature of the former songs, the riff is mesmerizing, with the keyboards accenting it. There are very subtle changes throughout the whole song, but it never quite becomes anything different. Truly A great song. “In The Bliss Of The Eternal Valleys Of Hate” has that trademark JUDAS ISCARIOT groove in it, very headbangable, yet still melodic and raw. The album finishes off with something very different, as “Portions Of Eternity Too Great For The Eye Of Man” is not so much a song as it is just ambient noise. Organs, a man speaking in the background, slow wind sounds howling throughout the track, this is a frightening track that finishes the album off with a drone: a creepy ending to a fantastic album.
While the career of JUDAS ISCARIOT was relatively long (ten years or so) Akhenaten never released anything sub-par, all the releases were all necessary steps in making JUDAS ISACRIOT a Black Metal force. Even though Akhenaten was involved with just about every other US Black Metal band, he still found time to create something different and better than most of his peers and “Distant In Solitary Night” is damn proof that JUDAS ISCARIOT was miles ahead of even most European Black Metal hordes.
I know I didn’t talk about the music as much as I did in the other JUDAS ISCARIOT reviews even though this is my favorite album, but that’s because it just doesn’t seem fitting to. I mentioned the few songs to give the listener some idea as to the different sound of this album, rather than to explain it bit by bit, as I would rather focus on JUDAS ISCARIOT’s overall nature instead. Explaining the power of this album is relatively pointless, as I tried to do that once before with an album and it didn’t quite do the album justice.
The only thing the listener needs to know about JUDAS ISCARIOT is that there will never be another Black Metal band that can pull off what Akhenaten did with JUDAS ISCARIOT and that is not only to create groundbreaking music, but to take an entire scene and bring it to life. Akhenaten brought Black Metal the way it should sound to the US and opened the flood gates to bring out the true potential of this genre Stateside. Truly a masterpiece of an album, that takes much more than a few listens to truly grasp the nature of it. Once again: MANDATORY. Enough said kids, come get your kicks with JUDAS ISCARIOT.
(Online February 23, 2007)