Equally praised to the sky and hated with compassion by the underground metal community, this may be somewhat of a controversial review.
Along with other early projects such as BLACK FUNERAL, PROFANATICA, HAVOHEJ, and JUDAS ISCARIOT, California’s VON were one of the first Black Metal bands to release anything in the United States. What is distinct about VON’s sound is how unforgivingly simple and primitive it is. Before the release of “Satanic Blood” in 1992, only bands such as BLASPHEMY and BEHERIT had dabbled in barbaric minimalism.
VON took the aforementioned bands’ approaches and, amazingly, stripped them down even further. The result is an extremely droning, repetitive, nearly ambient type of Black Metal. Lyrics are relegated to short phrases, growled menacingly in almost a ritualistic manner. Songs are simple in construction but the intent is apparent. Riffs are high speed, tremolo picked, and sparse. Often, one or two riffs will make up a single song. Drums keep an almost constant alternating blast. An adept listener will recognize where DARKTHRONE, BURZUM, KRIEG, and others draw influences in the simplistic construction of these immersing songs.
One particular highlight is “Veadtuck,” the biggest standout track and the one to use the highest variance of tempo. Though a simple instrumental, the echoing riffage and sparing use of cymbals convey a sinister mood.
“Satanic Blood Angel” comes with the “Blood Angel” demo, and several live tracks from 1991. The material on “Blood Angel” is similar to “Satanic Blood,” though with the drums in the forefront, followed closely by vocals, and of a slightly lesser quality. The live tracks are particularly of good quality; a perfect balance between the raw and unruly with clear sound. Two new tracks, “Dissection Inhuman” and “Goat Christ” are also performed, and neither fails to disappoint.
Rest assured, this release is rightfully divisive to the metal fanbase. The aim of this work is singular; compromising nothing, not even listenability. VON simply created primal, visceral works of violent Black Metal. Whether one grasps the concept and loves it, or does not understand VON, their work is forever regarded as influential to the second wave of Black Metal, and their place within the underground metal community’s history is secure.
This reviewer’s consensus:
BUY. OR. DIE.
(Online January 28, 2011)