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I really like Antaeus, but I fear that my tastes are rather limited when it comes to the French legionaries, as I still find Blood Libels their greatest work, and it seems hard to explain that to fans of the band, because, for the most part, Antaeus' formula has remained the same throughout their career. MkM and his roster have always played an incredibly impressive mix of strange atmospheric industrial noises with extremely fast and thin black metal riffing, hate-filled vocals, and twisting layered melodies - and little has changed throughout the development of the band. It's a simple formula - but hey, if it ain't broke. While Cut Your Flesh and Worship Satan isn't entirely groundbreaking, it is nevertheless a viciously delightful romp into rust covered straight razors, violent suicidal outbursts, and ever so pleasant hints of insanity and nihilism.
The album opens with distorted vocals and industrial noise, immediately planting images of abandoned hospitals, shattered glass, and padded cells rusted shut. After the brief intro, an explosion of violence shakes the listener awake as "Inner War" begins. The riffs are without melody, without form, just blistering fast atonal pieces shifting into a miasma of noise and fury, and most of the album follows suit. The industrial sections become more and more distorted (just try not to imagine a Silent Hill scenario when listening to them), and are used excellently throughout the album to create breaks from the uncompromising intensity. The guitars are serpentine and slithering, with the occasional squealing lead flailing over the abstract rhythm sections, and the drums spend of their time alternating between blasts and incredibly fast double bass breakdowns.
There are times when MkM and crew decided to shake things up, and this is where the album really comes into its own. Songs like "Devotee" blend the industrial grinding parts with punky traditional black metal sections that slow down only momentarily, and "Those with No Eyes" has bass breaks and hints of melodies over the blasting. The razorblade whirlwind is still present, but it's more subdued and controlled, suggesting a more hateful violence than just some thoughtless exercise in force. It's moments like that, in the midst of the hyperviolence, when there seems to be respite, that Antaeus really shine. The masochism suggested on the title becomes an incredibly vitriolic sadism - where the idea of "cut your flesh" seems more like a command than a lifestyle. These are the moments when Cut Your Flesh and Worship Satan becomes truly frightening and intense.
The whole album just oozes filthy raw atmosphere and it's just so carefully packaged and tightly played, that it's really hard not to find reasons to come back to it. MkM's lyrics are introspective and interesting, with entirely new takes on Satanism and violence - focusing on these things are cathartic releases and a rejection of order rather than some divine rite. It's a refreshing take on blasphemy, and something that remains uniquely French about Antaeus.
Sure, most of the songs sound exactly like the ones preceding them, but their are some very memorable moments found from time to time ("Bleeding Blasphemy" and "Specimen 23" have really interesting riff juxtapositions, and tempo shifts and high/low growl mixes) and the industrial tinges make the album seem like a complete picture rather than a bunch of fast songs thrown together a la Destroyer. All in all, Antaeus have made an interesting and poignant look into the world of medications, nihilism, suicide and insanity. It's a quick, short trip, but the passion and intensity more than make up for the lack of complexity and innovation. It'd be a stretch to call this album "enjoyable" but it's really damn good.