without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
At first, early Absurd was crap to me. All I heard was garage punk black metal with terrible production. However, now this has grown on me. Even though the production is bad, there is something to be said for the music itself. While Thuringian Pagan Madness is not the definitive Absurd release (that title goes to the excellent Facta Loquunter), it is a very good E.P. Also, I have found that the rawness and musical immaturity give this a unique sound.
Production issues aside, the musical skills of the members at this point were not yet very good. The guitar playing is consistent, but the most technical thing on here is the simple solo of "The Gates of Heaven", a song featuring all clean vocals, which is something new for black metal. There are a lot of clean vocals on Thuringian Pagan Madness. Both "The Gates of Heaven" and "Mourning Soul" use only clean vocals, as opposed to the harsh, raspy screams used in most black metal. Songs like "Werewolf" and "Pesttanz" have some intense screams, though. The actual amount of vocal skill demonstrated here is questionable, though. The clean vocals sound more like punk vocals than anything. This possibly explains Absurd's false reputation as a garage rock band. The harsh vocals, however, are soul tearing, even though they do not take much actual talent. This is especially true with the last line of "Eternal Winter". The drumming here is an obvious improvement. Hendrik Möbus plays drums on this E.P. At first, his style was very simple, just random, but more or less in rhythm drum beats. Now, he plays with some degree of proficiency.
Overall, Thuringian Pagan Madness is a good album. It is extremely raw, and there are a lot of mistakes in the music, making it sound more like a live album than anything. Everything is "studio quality", with the exception with the last track, "Mourning Soul", which was recorded live in concert. I think that it would be worthwhile to purchase this, however, I would strongly recommend looking at Facta Loquunter or Der Fünfzehnjährige Krieg first, as these containers the definitive versions of many early Absurd songs. These are more "early versions", but still good.
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