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Count Shannäth was a band from Texas that really didn't have any significance in the black metal genre during its three-year existence. Its sole member Aghartha is, or at least was known as an internet keyboard warrior, and a very pretentious piece of human scum. This really doesn't matter, though. Throughout the history of black metal, there have been a lot of bands which were inhabited by people I would describe as true pieces of living excrement that still made amazing music. Count Shannäth was sadly not one of those bands. After "evolving" from extremely boring and uninspired DSBM, this guy decided he was going to become a Nazi and release Count Shannäth material as NSBM. I couldn't care less about the guy's political beliefs, but the reason this makes me chuckle is the fact that he was influenced by other sub-par black metal musicians to transform this way. "Journey to Happiness Through Tragedy" is the only full-length this band put out and quite frankly, we should all be extremely grateful for that.
Musically, this is extremely generic DSBM recorded in an extremely sloppy fashion. It's raw, yes, but that's not what I meant by sloppy. The music itself is awfully choppy and inconsistent. Take the song "The Ugly in Life" for example. Right away, some of the clean riffs in the intro seem fairly well-played. Of course, they're simple in nature but that's really quite standard for DSBM. Anyway, these clean guitars soon become very inconsistent and it sounds like this guy was drunk as hell when he was attempting to play them. It only gets worse when the distorted electric guitar kicks in. I seriously don't understand how Aghartha expected to be taken seriously with this album. If you thought Happy Days' demos were bad, this pile of goat feces is much worse, and it's a full-length! It sounds worse than even some of the crappiest black metal demos I have heard.
Speaking of Happy Days, Count Shannäth seems perfectly satisfied with ripping them off. Almost all of the music on this album seems like it was copied and pasted from Happy Days' albums. Sure, DSBM isn't the most varied style of black metal there is, but at least you can tell a lot of bands apart from one another. I seriously thought I was listening to an even worse version of the Happy Days demo tape "A World of Pain" but alas, I was not. Way to go, Aghartha. You managed to make even that album sound like goddamned "Master of Puppets".
Aside from being a total failure in terms of the display of musical ability, this album also falls short with the vocals. They are not the standard painful black metal vocals we expect to hear, but instead, they sound like a teenage girl crying because her prom date stood her up. So, in a way, this album is indeed painful and depressing. However, not in the way DSBM is supposed to be. We don't get an atmosphere of despair and loneliness here. We instead get a complete lack of atmospheric charm and a big stinking pile of reeking fecal matter. I gotta say, we still should thank Aghartha for pulling the plug on this joke of a band. Thank you, Aghartha. May you never offer anymore sub-standard, unoriginal black metal to this world ever again. We have enough problems to worry about nowadays. "Journey to Happiness Through Tragedy"? More like "Journey to Nothingness Through Unoriginality".
What we are dealing with here is another modern depressive black metal act, like many others, released to a limited 100 copies on only the tape format. Most depressive black metal is like a beaten to the ground retarded horse that can no longer pull the weight and must be put down by the owner. This is to be expected with such a release like this one. What is Count Shannath? Why not a real band name? What kind of a title is 'Journey to Happiness through Tragedy'? What drew me into this was the cover itself, almost reminds you of a nightmarish ambient release, and as tired as I am of the same music out of the genre, I purchased the only copy of this tape at the local record store to give it a listen.
And wow, I don't know what to say here. As simple as this full length may be, there exists a strong feeling of insanity. The atmosphere is perfect and consistent, very Burzum influenced. The repetitive and minimalistic nature of this album is what makes the overall tone so magical, the best way to describe would be to say Vaskosk knew exactly when to hold a note, and let it go, even if it doesn't match the music, it still generates a depressing feeling. The feeling of loneliness, or loss of a loved one. It is hard to describe, I cannot put my finger on it.
The introduction is played perfectly on a out-of-tune keyboard, kind of like entering Vaskosk's 'dark journey', which perfectly blends with the next song that just gives a real exploding entrance with a vocal range so dark and painful (a lot like Dead's vocals). However the rest of the album, the vocals have a heavy Burzum and Silencer influence on them, very unique. Combined with buried under the guitar smashing percussion that are the drums, it explores the deepest depths of our soul. It almost plays with your mind. Even after the album is finished, it draws you back to listen yet again, giving the feeling you didnt get everything from the first listen that you wanted.
The tone of the guitar is the most haunting part of the release. It is almost similar to rain, or dark winds hovering over head. The riffs themselves are creepy as well, repetitive, but creepy. The tone is tuned perfectly, I cannot make out what tuning his guitar is in, it is drowned in distortion and fuzz. At the end of this we have a twist, a cover of the one and only NON's Total War. The samples are great, the drums are simplistic, and the vocals are easier to understand. What stops this album from being a perfect 100 is the quality. I will be the first to say I love raw quality tapes, I love garage recordings and some bedroom recordings. But the sound on this tape could have been louder. I am sure it wasn't his intention, it may have been a mistake on the label's part, but that is the only downfall factor.
In conclusion, this album is very different on a large scale. This is not your average depressive black metal. This is its own genre. I definitely recommend this to anyone who truly feels the same way this tape is trying to make you feel. This is not for everybody, and lets hope that we can keep it that way.