Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Absurd/Pantheon - Split 2002

Artist Absurd/Pantheon
Label Nebelfee Klangwerke
Year 2002
Genre(s) Symphonic Black Metal, NSBM

There are a lot of problems with the NSBM scene. Even when ignoring the outright stupidity of your average Neo-Nazi follower. Possibly one of the worst issues with the bands in the “scene” would be the valuation of aesthetic and ideal over talent. I want to get something out of the way here, early in their career Absurd were atrocious, barely competent and excessively childish. Pantheon aren’t much better. Unfortunately this split release gathers up some early Absurd tracks and Pantheon’s first LP.

Absurd deal out some standard “punky” black metal. Their collection of tracks ranges from the early “children playing evil” phase right up to some more competent and well-formed material. It’s always interesting to hear a band improve and grow; the only problem is that it’s usually a more rewarding experience if you’ve an interest in the band. This release mixes the different “periods” of Absurd up in the track order, as such there’s a sudden tonal switch from the enjoyable, if not somewhat bland, Böse to the terribly misguided mixture of silly raw vocals and hilariously misguided clean vocals on Der Grosse Tod. Triumph of Death shows a childish Absurd with hideously inane lyrics.

“Subhuman scum you must fear me
it's time to say goodbye
you have no reason to exist
it's time for you to die”

Combine this with the vocals being far too prominent in the mix and the rather generic playing style and the song becomes more of an amusing “how not to record black metal” display. Speaking on what to avoid when recording black metal, every band should listen to Colours of Autumn then promptly make sure they never create something so terrible. Annoying, misplaced clean vocals that sound like a Vaudeville performer juxtaposed with hideous “harsh” vocals that sound like a teenager trying too hard to sound aggressive do not a good song make. Death from the Forest suffers even more problems, the vocals are too fast causing them to sound strained and forced, not to mention the same juvenile lyrical content that plagues the majority of these tracks,

“I am demonic, I am so evil"

Son of Endless Night

Absurd wouldn’t be a terrible band if not for the vocals. Their musical content is enjoyable, if not clichéd. There certainly isn’t any new ground being broken. Absurd seem to be the primary band within the NSBM scene, whilst their newer material certainly shows improvement the question remains how a band that can record such sub-par, uninspired drivel could ever assume that mantle.

Pantheon create a mix of slightly more symphonic and rawer styles. Keyboard passage are liberally scattered throughout their contribution (Re-issue of their first EP) that really don’t gel with the guitar. Also worthy of note is the horrendous drum sound, cymbals that sound like a toy kit and a bass drum that sounds like cardboard. The one instrument that holds any merit is the guitar. Monolithos incorporates infectiously catchy riffs to get the song stuck in your head, unfortunately it’s hard to focus on when the bell of the cymbal is hit and it sounds like someone banging pots and pans together. This is a quality that carries through the entire half hour that Pantheon present. The good elements of the music are far overpowered by the alienating sections. The bass is also a matter of issue for me, occasionally in Det Rase Elig Hygiensk Kanon the bass will rise above the fray, play a few notes out of tune and then sink back into the mess, offering nothing but managing to detract from the whole. Pantheon vocals are on the whole more listenable and actually fit with this music, that’s not to say the lyrics are any better. The opening to The Atavism Into Ginnungagap features melodic repetition of “Heil, Sieg Heil” which sounds more like a teenager attempting to shock than it does a legitimate lyric. The best way I could think to describe Pantheon based on this release would have to be sloppy. The symphonic elements sound cheesy and the music sounds slightly competent at best.

There’s not much of value on this split. I suppose if you’re into the whole NS scene you’ll probably buy it anyway. One thing I’ve learned from NSBM fans is that the value ideal/aesthetic over ability (That said though, Xasthur sells so maybe it applies to all black metal). Whilst I don’t agree with the ideals of bands like Forest or Ad Hominem I can appreciate their music. Even the more symphonic side of things is covered by bands like Kristallnacht, Pantheon don’t do anything you can’t hear (better) elsewhere. Of course it’s always possible this review is just part of some ZOG conspiracy.

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