Sunday, September 09, 2007

Cacophonous Unblack ... ness

Antestor's 3rd album or debut release, however you look at it is a bleak sorrow-filled chunk of black metal. And a pioneer of the great black/unblack debate.

Without delving to deep into the semantics, I'll just say that Christian black metal is a matter of perspective. What is black metal? Is it black metal due to the dark nature of the lyrics? or is black metal a musical genre made up of scratchy vocals, speedy distorted riffs and melody lines, raw production and blistering drum work.

It is my opinion that Christian black metal should be labelled as Unblack (or white metal as some call it) so as to distinguish lyrical philosophy. As far as the music is concerned, a Secular black metal band and a Christian black metal band are virtually indistinguishable. Just ask Jayson Sherlock of Horde fame releasing what can be consider the first unblack album in a satirical look at the satanic black metal scene.

The folk at Cacophonous records who released and pulled Antestor's major label debut "The Return Of The Black Death" (originally titled "Kongsblod") couldn't see the difference as well. I think people put to much stock on the label Christian black metal. I see it as a way to describe the bands music to those unfamiliar with the term Unblack.

It doesn't matter much anyway, seeing as Antestor refer to themselves as Sorrow metal, so let's move on.

"tRotBD" starts off with airy atmospheric "Vinterferden" which sets an eerie/somber mood before kicking in with "A Sovereign Fortress" whose melodic black metal style hints at the sorrowness spread out over the album. Gone are the doom influences and death metal vocals due in part because of the almost complete overhaul of personnel which brought differing influences.

"Svartedauens Gjenkomst" adds a more uplifting feel with the keyboard melody and reminds me a little of Summoning. "The Bridge Of Death" carries on the uplifting bleakness and hints at the old Antestor sound. The original title track "Kongsblod" upliftingness is due in part to its hymn like sound and military drumwork.

The sorrowness is prominent mostly in the more traditional black metal tunes like "Gamlelandet", "Battlefield" and "Kilden-Lik En Endelos Elv". These are more straight forward speedy raw bleak black metal, with vocals that are dripping with sorrow. Melodic, atmospheric interludes mix up the pacing without stalling the albums momentum.

My favourite tracks here are the two slower rhythmic songs "Sorg" and the epic "Ancient Prophecy". Clocking in at around 8 minutes "Ancient Prophecy" is an atmospheric black metal piece with hypnotic rhythm and airy black metal vocals. It's a bleak sounding song with a doomy narrative midsection and creates a nice epic track. "Sorg" is my favourite. It's slower and doomish with a majestic feel and an uplifting outro.

"The Return Of The Black Death" is a major step towards the full on black metal style they'd become, but still contains little touches of the old Antestor and that helps with the transition.

Up next is the experimental EP "Det Tapte Liv" and their black metal opus "The Forsaken".


Blogger Martini said...

Two Martini-thumbs up for that cover art!!

2:01 PM  

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