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Chemikiller’s main man, Ramrod, remembers a simpler, idyllic time, when the true masters of black metal ruled the world from their dark, gilded thrones. Venom, undoubtedly one of his biggest influences, held court in the center of the realm of the cult, and each member sat on an imposing dais made entirely of human skulls. Nothing but blackened, thrashy riffs could be heard, no matter what direction you turned. In this pristine land, there was no escape.
You could try and flee across the river, but this course wasn’t all too advisable. Unnamable things dwelt beneath the surface, and even if one did, no true solitude could be found. No, one would merely find themselves in the halls of Mercyful Fate. Here the land looked cleaner on the outside, but the glossy surface was merely a thin shine over the dark Satanism that lay within. Everything was drenched in an echoing mist that perfectly complimented the ethereal falsettos and fluid solos that dominated the countryside.
Of course, this was far from the only path. One could try fleeing over the hills, but this would only lead you to the frostbitten land of the Celtic, and their ungodly Frost. Here the riffs were slower, and packed even more punch as they decimated any dissenters. If one dared to cross the fearsome dessert they would merely enter the lands of Sodom, from which no escape was possible from the thrashy assault. In yet another direction laid Bathory, and in a further, Bulldozer.
Yet, like all utopias, this blackened hell could never last. The enemy came from the north, and traveled in their fearsome Viking longships. They came to battle in fearsome corpsepaint, they used no drums, but instead marched to cheesy keyboards, and they disguised their simplistic maneuvers behind an impenetrable wall of harsh and unyielding production.
The first wave of black metal gods didn’t know how to respond. Some tried to fight, and denounced the newcomers as misinterpreting the true spirit of black metal, and of being a mockery of all that it stands for. Other welcomed the shift, and applauded their new, different, comrades as brothers. Still more forefathers somehow managed to be utterly unaware that the shift had even taken place, and continued to play in their once majestic halls, unaware that the world outside had changed.
Ramrod comes from a small village in the south. He doesn’t believe in the decadent, kvlt, true and grim ways of the newcomers. “No Vikings!” he calls at the head of his small, but dedicated, army. “No corpsepaint! No keyboards! No bullshit! Just black, fuckin’ thrash!” He shows his views on his parody of his foes, entitled ‘Intro: Kvlt Envff.’ This would probably be more effective if it was actually raw black metal, as opposed to just really awful, and poorly produced, thrash, but it hardly matters.
The music presented on this disk is exactly what you’d expect from this. It’s sloppily played thrash that’s absolutely vicious in composition, amateur sounding in execution, and black metal in feel. The guitars are direct disciples of bands like Venom. The riffs are fast, and frequently quite heavy. The leads and solos are some of the best parts of the album.
The bass is audible, but doesn’t do all that much, save for on a few occasions. The majority of these are quick intros/interludes with the bass and double bass drum working in tandem, and they’re almost always effective. The drumming generally plays a steady backbeat, although there are several enjoyable rolls and fills to be found. Several of the count ins are somewhat ill fitting, but that’s hardly a major problem. They’re programmed, which seems like it’d be a no-no for something this ‘back to the roots’ oriented, but I suppose that Bathory did it, so it’s okay to ignore that point.
The vocals are standard thrash, but with the slightest hint of extra harshness, and work quite well. They sound like someone who’s never tried to sing before, and is bellowing as loud and off time as he possibly can to make up for it – and as a result, they’re damn awesome. The lyrics are fairly simple, but are well written and go perfectly with the music. “I’m stronger than god,” booms Stronger than God. “Slaughter the sheep! I’m stronger than god!” Later in the song, we’re treated to a bit of audience interaction. Out of place, but with music this energetic, you might just find yourself shouting back, before you remember that you’re on a crowded bus with headphones, not at a concert.
The music is generally well written, and is extremely catchy at points. Each song generally has an incredibly distinctive part or two, and while these are repeated quite often, they’re usually awesome enough to justify it. The only problem comes when the riffs are unable to support this, which leads one or two of the songs on here to be quite weak. United Satanic America seems like a good example of this, although it’s not a bad track. The only true weak moment on the album is the final song, House of Blood, which I honestly have trouble finishing. The chorus is painfully awkward, static and weak, yet it repeats again and again until it becomes completely unbearable.
The band’s main flaw, however, is length. This is the kind of music that’s good, head-banging fun. You can’t help but get into it when you throw it on, and you’re so rapped up in the maniacal momentum of the whole thing that you’re never going to notice the slight flaws. The problem comes when you take the album as a whole. Stuff like this works best in comparatively short bursts, forty or so minutes as an absolute maximum being a good indicator. This album is just shy of an hour. By the end, the effect is all gone, and due to no fault of the latter songs in particular, you’re now analyzing the music carefully, rather than merely being swept along. Everything starts to blend together, and to make matters worse; a few earlier riffs seem to pop up again. There’s simply too much material here for the mood to last, and this is a prime example of a time when more of a good thing isn’t necessarily better. As a result, I’d recommend listening to the album in two halves, or something like that, to maintain the full effect.
Chemikiller are a damn fun band. It’s not the best music, but it’s the kind of stuff that you can’t help but enjoy. I may not be ready to go march with them against some of my favorite ‘kvlt’ black metal bands, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the processions’ musical recruitment techniques. Highly recommended for fans of first wave black metal…for a few tracks, at least.