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If I hadn’t had this band recommended to me, then I would almost certainly have overlooked them because of their ridiculous name. Make sure you do not make this mistake! Although their releases are hard to find these days, they are well worth the effort of tracking them down. This is truly vile black/death metal of the highest order.
The production is predictably muddy and muffled, but it works well with this style of music. The guitars have a mid-range sound to them, very 80’s, without being overly distorted. Think Hellhammer, but not quite as well recorded. The drums sit comfortably in the mix, perfectly audibly (apart from the kick drum) but not too prominent. Bass is indiscernible, but is certainly there, because the music has more depth to it than is achieved with just guitars. The vocals vary between deep, bestial grunting and more traditional, raspy growls. The deeper vocals are not of the guttural death metal variety, but more like the deeper Sarcofago vocals. The overall sound is cheap and nasty, which is perfect for this style of music.
The EP begins with ‘Eclipse Of Light’, and the band does not mess around. There is no intro of any sort; the music just blasts from the word go. The influences are immediately clear: take VON’s ritualistic simplicity and Beherit’s primitive ugliness and wrap it up in a veil of grime and filth, Archgoat style. Dead Christ are more than just the sum of their influences, though, and they add their own style of riffing and atmosphere to these three songs.
‘Eclipse Of Light’ is not just one long blast beat. It alternates between blasting and mid-paced sections. It is when the speed picks up that the VON influences are most apparent, especially in the simple, repetitive vocals rhythms, and the solid drumming (i.e. No drum fills). When it slows down, the Beherit influences take over, and a riff is played that wouldn’t sound out of place on one of Arhgoat’s records. These slower sections are accompanied by a subtle use of percussion, and some of the snare hits are accompanied by what almost sounds like gunshots. It’s an effective way to add variation to what is essentially an incredibly simple song, and it’s a vital contribution to the ritual atmosphere.
The title track is the longest on offer (an epic 3:16), and is played at a much slower pace throughout. On the surface, it seems to consist of simple drumbeats accompanied by a few three-note riffs. The chords are lethargic and ominous, and the drumming is, again, simple but effective. However, behind all this is a series of haunting synths and distorted wails that, because they are buried quite low in the mix, are not obvious unless you listen out for them. As with the use of percussion on the previous song, these add vital depth and atmosphere to the proceedings without being overly prominent, or cluttering up the mix.
The final track is a short but furious blast of a song, powered along by the drumming, and, as in the first track, gaining a sense of momentum from the simple, constant blasting, and lack of any fills or fancy technicality. The guitars play a handful of simple chord progressions, which don’t sound quite as sinister as on the previous two songs, but still do the job. There is no use of percussion or synths on this track, but if you listen carefully there are additional distorted wails and screams in the background, which gives the song a little more depth. This is a fine track, but not quite as great as the first two, and demonstrates why Dead Christ are at their best when mixing tempos, and allowing a little room for the atmosphere to seep through rather than just blasting throughout.
This is a must-have for any fans of VON or early Beherit, and I can’t recommend enough that you try and find a copy.