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Despite being one of Germany's most well-known Black Metal bands, Absurd's earliest output was hardly deserving of such a label. The primary reason the band was even known had less to do with their songwriting abilities and more to do with the murder of one of their schoolmates. In the end, the entire episode was rather foolish and not at all something to be proud of. Rather than dissolving as a musical entity, the band members were still able to record music and carried on with their particular brand of noise pollution.
The material on Absurd's 1995 demo, Thuringian Pagan Madness, has more in common with Oi-punk than with Black Metal. The guitar riffs and drumming patterns owe a lot to early punk bands. There is a catchy vibe to these songs, especially on those that feature clean vocals, like "Gates of Heaven". Even the utilization of harsh vocals fails to lend more of a black feeling to the music. The riffs lack any sense of darkness or evil, whatsoever. There are moments where a gloomy feeling is conveyed, but it is very mild. The production is total rubbish, which says a lot for how awful this sounds. The percussion is a little too high in the mix, though that makes sense as this appears to have been recorded live. There seems to be little or no distortion to the guitars, which do not sound Metal in any way at all. To label something like this as Black Metal is very misleading, regardless of how Absurd's sound developed in later years. While they may have enjoyed listening to Bathory, Darkthrone and Burzum, their music bears more similarities to the Misfits than any of those groups.
In some ways, this demo is hardly worth listening to. It certainly should not appeal to fans of Black Metal, or even those that appreciate the band's later output. However, it is somewhat infectious and, after a couple listens, it gets stuck in your head. After a while, one might even get used to the odd blend of styles found here. This is particularly true if you like old punk rock with the same simplistic arrangements and garage-quality sound. Otherwise, if you are seeking grim Black Metal that this period was known for, listen to Moonblood instead.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com