Debemur Morti Productions
or better or worse, France’s Black Metal mystique has come to precede any listening experience that may involve one of its truly mesmerizing outfits. Years ago, Les Legions Noire conjured images of grottos filled with black leather clad devotees, swilling spilled blood from cupped hands, carefully considering the application of thought into action. In retrospect, this seems almost laughable, as it apes the same sort of bloated narrative that choked the “grunge” scene of the Pacific Northwest in the early ‘90s. France is still filled with interesting, provocative, and even cogent bands, though, not to mention also serving as host to the relatively novel Orthodox Black Metal “movement.” Save Sweden’s Funeral Mist and Watain, France’s Deathspell Omega, Hell Militia, S.V.E.S.T. Antaeus, and Haemoth—to name but a few—are reclaiming Black Metal’s fundamentals, eschewing any sort of de rigueur notion of nationalism inextricably bound to feigned “heathen” origins. This is music dealing exclusively with “Him” and His host of epithets: darkness, disease; The Deceiver, The Demander; adversary and antichrist; Prince of Air and Ruler of the World; Satan, The Serpent—The Worthless Servant.
Appropriately, France’s Haemoth—comprised of duo Haemoth and Syht—act in strict accordance, unleashing a bizarre combination of treble thinned guitar driven songs offset by disturbing ambient interludes. At first listen, this is off-putting music: anorexic instrumentation and vocals buried in layers of sheared tones make for a slow grasp. Once one’s ears grow accustomed to the production and the songs that sound shaped from an early Bathory template, the patient development and near hymn-like repetition usually associated with Deathspell Omega floats to the surface, showing Haemoth to be strangely nuanced, even as songs blast incessantly away; cannons loaded with ad hoc shell: mud, nails, glass, rocks. In “Stigma Diabolikum,” the duo sprints and stalls, coloring static pools with bass rumbles, mechanistic screams, sewer squelch softened by a church organ’s measured music. At its end comes the feral cacophony of “Dependence,” four polluted minutes of pounding percussion smoothed out into near pure white noise as guitar chokes every competing sound, leaving the offering morbidly flat, occasionally rippling with guttural vocal fits.
Kontamination is an apt title, as Haemoth not only makes every effort to defile sound itself, but also to metaphorically continue the viral process begun by bands like the aforementioned Funeral Mist and Watain; a process reliant upon the fortified paradigm of sonic savagery and lyrical/ideological refinement—a compelling combination that has shown intriguing results as incubation and its consequential metastasis is readily available to all who seek it out. Si Monvmentvm Reqvires Circvmspice [sic], indeed.
Reviewed by: Stewart Voegtlin
Reviewed on: 2006-04-18