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Impaled Nazarene are a band that have somewhat stayed off my radar. I only own 2 albums, and other bits and pieces I've heard haven't inspired me to dig deeper. I bought this album purely because it is so highly regarded. Suffice to say I don't quite get the hype.
The actual black metal on this album is pretty good. 'Sadhu Satana', 'Chaosgoat Law' and 'Hate' in particular stand out at the beginning of the album, plenty of blasting drums and proper black metal riffs. Production is nicely underdone like black metal should be, although the tinny drums can be irritating t times. Vocals are typical black metal screaming/screeching with a slight hint of a more death metal type roar. So far so good. But 'Gott ist Tot' is an abomination, a repetitive riff over a horrible dance inspired programmed beat. I don't care what subtitled mix this track is, it's utter rubbish and followed by an even more pointless 17 second track. Totally ruins the flow of the album.
Unfortunately this double kick in the balls really spoils the album for me. Luckily, the next tracks are a rapid improvement. 'Soul Rape' is really fast and powerful black metal, and 'Kali-Yaga' is somehow even faster, more intense and has an insanely good dose of screaming in it. Good stuff. 'Cyberchrist' is more of the same, but this is where the album finds it's flaws. Apart from the experimental crap, this album all sounds exactly the same. Lightning fast riffing, pounding drums, relentlessly harsh vocals. At this speed it's hard to conjure up atmosphere which is the key to good black metal. Variety would be nice, but this album only has variety in the shape of a horrible genre clashing track or a stupidly short track that starts good then just stops (that track is fast in more than one way!).
'False Jehova' is the same again, as is 'Sadistic 666' although this track isn't quite as fast. Bonus tracks-'Satanic Masowhore' is fast, pounding black metal which comes as a real shock. 'Conned Thru Life' is another whirlwind track in the same vein as the others.
These guys can clearly play and know their black metal down to a tee, but that's all they do. They play fast black metal, and they play it quite well, but there's no real atmosphere or changes of pace besides tracks that can only be labeled as skippable. I really have to be in the mood to listen to 'Ugra-Karma', ideally a mood where I want to kill everyone! Worth a listen for those into the harsher, faster end of the black metal spectrum.
Recommended tracks: just listen to 'Hate' or 'Soul Rape' then play them another 11 times on repeat.
Ugra-Karma, the sophomore effort from Impaled Nazarene, was released in December 1993 through Osmose Productions. Unlike other bands from the Finnish Black Metal scene, such as Beherit and Archgoat, Impaled Nazarene shared many similarities with the bands from Norway, at least on the surface. This L.P. represented yet another step in that direction, while also improving upon many of the flaws of the debut. Though far from perfect, Ugra-Karma represents the pinnacle of the band's career.
One of the most noticeable aspects of this record has to be the production. The pummeling of the drums, often, take the focus off of the guitar riffs. Throughout the entire album, the percussion is far too high in the mix and is rather distracting, at times. There are occasions where the bass is too loud, as well, but this is much more rare. The vocals, of course, are never buried in the mix and are always featured well enough to be heard clearly. The guitar tone is rather odd, sounding like a rusty saw blade, for the most part. While not really that negative, the riffs may have been better suited by a colder sound.
Aside from the nitpicking, the actual musical content of Ugra-Karma is quite enjoyable. Gone are the inconsistent songwriting and occasional Death Metal leanings of Tol Cormpt Norz Norz Norz..., replaced by more developed arrangements and an overall cohesiveness that was previously lacking. Rather than filling space with countless tracks that go nowhere and clock in at or under the one minute mark, Impaled Nazarene put more time and thought into their second offering and put forth a solid collection of tunes. The one exception to this would have to be "Gott ist Tot", which is an utterly worthless techno track that seems very much out-of-place. The majority of the songs center around blast beats and tremolo melodies, though the guitars hardly ever have an opportunity to create a dark atmosphere. However, that is as much a result of the poor production as it is the punk / Motörhead influence that is detected in the execution of the material, most evident in songs like "Soul Rape" and "Kali-Yuga". Though this record possesses many of the same ingredients as albums like Pure Holocaust and Under A Funeral Moon, the prevailing mentality behind it is much more in line with the first Blasphemy album. The end result is an album that fails to imbue the listener with a dreadful sense of darkness, opting instead for a straightforward barbaric onslaught.
This is highly recommended for fans of the Second Wave of Black Metal. and is the one essential Impaled Nazarene release, providing stronger songwriting than its predecessor and yet more integrity than its successor. Though it shares very little in common with albums such as Drawing Down the Moon or Tales of Desecration, Ugra-Karma is one of the cornerstones of the early Finnish scene.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com
After the rather questionable debut album ”Tol Cormpt Norz Norz Norz”, Impaled Nazarene shows the true extent of their talent on ”Ugra Karma”. Every fault that the debut had – and it had many – is fixed here, and every aspect of the debut that was great is improved tenfold. ”Ugra Karma” is to date the best album Impaled Nazarene has released. If the mad, youthful energy of ”Tol Cormpt Norz Norz Norz” was charming in its own sickening, psychotic way, all of that energy can be found here on ”Ugra Karma”. Only here it is harnessed and, when fully released, greatly magnified. If ”Tol Cormpt Norz Norz Norz” shot you in the face, ripped off your limbs and raped your dead carcass in front of your old mother, this album does the same; but ”Ugra Karma” is a calculating killer who planned a murder whereas ”Tol Cormpt Norz Norz Norz” does it out of spite. ”Ugra Karma”, while not as deranged as its predecessor, is still full of that same destructive lunacy, only in a more constructive way.
The songs here are longer and obviously better planned than before, not taking into account the opening track and the grinder ”Coraxo”. The opener, ”Goatzied”, is possibly the most frenzied song on the album, and the impression it gives is not much unlike in the band's previous work. The album kicks off with extremely fast blasting, tremolo-picking and unintelligible snarls by the apparently insane or at least very drunk vocalist Mika Luttinen. In between passages of grinding madness, there is a calmer part where the shitty synths from the debut make a return. The second song, ”The Horny and the Horned”, is where the album truly starts. Blasting, grinding, tremolo-picking black metal madness with a main riff that is almost mournful and verses where Luttinen, without any particular death growl or scream technique, snarls out most inappropriate (and slightly nonsencial) lyrics, and lets out ear-piercingly high shrieks like only a true madman can. Compared to this song, not a single song from the debut stands a chance.
There is, besides the grinding black metal style, also a hardcore punk influenced side to this album which was much less seen on the preceding album. The simple structure and the vaguely rock 'n' rollish riffing on ”Sadhu Satana” (and also, ”Chaosgoat”, which is a somewhat similar song) is a sign of punk influence, and the song ”Soul Rape” even uses D-beats. Punk drumbeats or not, this influence is a very important one in making ”Ugra Karma” so great. It brings much needed variety and diversity to the riffing, which, on the debut, was very one-dimensional and undeviating. Luttinen's vocal performance also brings to mind punk, for it completely lacks any disciplined technique. His voice is like a mixture between some unorthodox low-pitched scream and just plain shouting your head off. On the following album, ”Suomi Finland Perkele”, it can be noticed where this free vocal style took Luttinen: he was beginning to lose his voice. However, on ”Ugra Karma”, we can still hear and enjoy the full extent of his untrained, unrelenting vocal performance, from aggressive snarling to the absolutely bloodcurling high-pitched wails.
The best part of this album, as always in black metal, is the atmosphere. None of the tracks are truly what the press and the public nowadays call atmospheric; that is, they have nothing in common with Neurosis. The atmosphere on ”Ugra Karma” is created by the almost droning quality of the fast blastbeats and the tremolo-picked, extremely heavy, more than adequately distorted guitars. Everything here keeps the same, steady pace, from the attitude-laden, convincingly triumphant ”The Horny and the Horned” to rifftastic hc-black metal explosions that follow, and then, to the lowest place there is where no daylight goes, the utterly mad black metal trip of ”Hate”. The flow of the first half of the album ends with ”Gott Ist Tot (Antichrist War Mix)”, which is probably the only bad song on the album. It's a mostly worthless industrial mix of a metal song. After the nasty, punkish ”Soul Rape” (a song surprisingly indicative of what the band would become in later years), comes ”Kali-Yuga”, which is possibly the most evil track on the album. Absolutely dark and deranged, with some of Luttinen's best high shrieks for a chorus, and what I presume to be pseudo-Hindi for verses. Continuing in this dark, atmospheric vein, ”Cyberchrist” starts with what is probably the only lead guitar part on the entire album. With ”Cyberchrist”, we're partially back in the style of the first couple of songs here. The song boasts riffs that could almost be called majestic – if not epic – and probably the strangest, and not the least monstrous, growl I've ever heard in the chorus. ”Burn! You burn!”
Even the production is a step up from the debut album. It is by no means raw, but it's certainly not overproduced. It seems that every best aspect of every sound recorded is fully maintained and masterfully highlighted, and as little compromises were made as possible. If this album's production was beer, it would be a strong, Belgian beer with perhaps 8% alcohol, with such rich and powerful taste that it's hard to imagine ever drinking any other beer after tasting it – it tastes like any good beer, but it has three times the flavour. Drums have hardly ever sounded fuller and deeper than here. In blasts, the snare is a resonating, deep thump, and when played with more accent, it's as full, round and rich as a snare hit can be. What is truly wonderful about the mix is that every instrument is so easily discernable despite the high amount of distortion used in the guitars and the fast, loud nature of the drumming. The violent tone of the bass can be heard excellently even from beyond the wall of fuzz-ridden guitars, and when it's given the entire stage in the very first seconds of ”Kali-Yaga”, it sounds absolutely deadly. I'm willing to wager you have never heard a more impressive bass intro. Assuredly, half its power comes from the tone alone.
The feeling that ”Ugra Karma” gives is a difficult one to put in words, but it has an immediately recognisable atmosphere. It comes from the sheer madness of the music - it is extremely straight-forward and unpretentious, and yet the maniacal performances of each musician here, particularly Luttinen the vocalist, make it sound like the soundtrack for apocalypse. The genius of this album is how such minimalistic black metal performed in a certain loose, even sloppy, and yet extremely unrelenting manner, can be made into the monster that it is. The majestic quality of some of the riffs, or at other times the hardcore punk influence in them, makes this album very unique in the realm of black metal, but none of it takes away from the sheer absolute evil of the music. Admittedly it isn't thoroughly evil at all times, but when it is, it will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. If anything, the punk influence makes songs like ”Chaosgoat” and ”Soul Rape” even uglier and more terrible, and yet, at the same time, they have some rare essence of grandeur in them that lesser bands can only dream of. "Ugra Karma" is undeniably a masterpiece of black metal.
From Impaled Nazarene you can always and only expect a massive dosage of pure aggression and violence. The debut album will forever be remembered as one of the most extreme outputs of the first years of the 90s and the following album, this Ugra-Karma is simply a natural continuation of the path with more violent compositions that, however, show more complex and mature parts. By the way, the words “mature” and “complex” should always be seen related to a band like Impaled Nazarene, that never abandoned their way to violence in all these years.
As an example of what I said, let’s check the first song, “Goatzied”. Here the band is awesome. At the beginning there is a long series of blast beats that has two breaks where the keyboards parts give the right atmosphere. Mika’s vocals are always schizophrenic, sick and completely screamed. While we continue the march though these songs, the brutality grows and even if the debut was already so evil and twisted, this Ugra-Karma is even faster and nastier. The band has improved a lot and now the structures of the songs are complete. The melodic, almost epic breaks and the sudden blast beats parts on “The Horny and The Horned” are monstrous. To notice, by the way, the classical and always present ironic component.
The production is quite raw but truly bestial. Even if they want to mock the other black metal bands, this album can result heavier than most of the black metal outputs in those years. Mika’s screams are incredibly powerful and manage to be also quite versatile, passing easily from a form of growl to the characteristic scream. The songs are generally not so long and beside pure furious opuses like “Sadhu Satana” and “Chaosgoat Law”, we can also find a little more various tracks like “Hate” and “CyberChrist”. Often, there are keyboards parts in which the atmosphere is gloomier and more epic if we want. The rest is a continue march towards pure detonating parts.
Forget about technique or sense of a smart songwriting. Everything has planned to be primordial and that is. The guitars are in perennial open chords parts and they achieve the goal of creating a massive, black monolith of bestial carnage behind the restless drums that, so often, are on a sort of primordial blast beats pattern. “Soul Rape” is more punk on the approach of the guitars and the general tempo that this time is a bit less impulsive and more focused on the up tempo, like also on “Kali-Yuga”. The only thing I didn’t like a lot is the “Gott Ist Tot (Antichrist War Mix)” because has an electronic base. By the way, I must admit that these guys are completely crazy in everything they do.
All in all, this is one of the most violent albums by this band and surely one of the most vicious in this genre. It’s ironic but on the other hand it’s completely primordial, destructive and unmatchable. The band has made a quite big step respect the first album and you can really hear that. By the way, I easily recommend it to any fan of really extreme sounds.
Impaled Nazarene are one of Black Metal's stalwarts, as they have quite a long and extensive catalog of grisly, headbangable, blasting ugliness that I have yet to fully delve into. I do happen to have this album though, and although it isn't instantly gratifying, it is a monster of an album.
Impaled Nazarene took the standard Black Metal template and tinkered with it in subtle ways, adding some folkish, majestic melodies here and there, and dashes of electronic influences ("Gott Ist Tott" is the main offender in this respect) that make this album instantly recognizable. All of the key Black Metal elements are firmly in place, from the thin, hollow production job, the fuzzy, raw guitar sound, the blackened rasping and shrieking from behind the mic and the bucketfulls of blastbeats and tremolo-picked riffs, but Impaled Nazarene are good songwriters, and Ugra Karma is far from a generic Black Metal release. Every song here is instantly recognizable, and the band utilizes catchy riffs and foreboding, horror-movie esque melodies to accentuate this, clashing with the simplistic bashing of the music's surface aesthetics to create quite an interesting album, with much more depth than meets the ear on first listen. Give this one time to grow on you.
There aren't any real bad songs here, and standouts include the vicious, ripping opener "The Horny and The Horned," the monolithic, towering "Hate," the eccentric, high-octane blasting of the furious "Kali Yuga," the desolate, bleak stomp of "Cyberchrist," with its crushing riffs and dense, foggy atmosphere, and the doomy closer "Sadistic 666 / Under a Golden Shower." Ugra Karma is not an album that will convert non-Black Metal fans to the genre, but it is a very competent album of evil, abrasive Black Metal played at its best, with enough creative nuance to keep you interested for a long time. Recommended.
Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com
Impaled Nazarene has always been, and no doubt will always remain as my favorite band, period. Every new LP is a always solid, powerful, hatefilled, Satanic, goatworshipping masterpiece of epic proportions, taking the typical black metal formula and adding elements of thrash, power metal, and yes, even crust punk. The past few albums (which are, at this time, Pro Patria Finlandia, Absence of War, All That You Fear), are much quite thrash-like in sound, incorporating a lot of power metal tremolo picking and screaming, rather than growling, if that makes any sense, so that is what a lot of people have come to expect from the band. Recently, however, Osmose rereleased the 1993 black metal classic (again), and so this album is once again widely available. For anyone who thinks of Impaled Nazarene as a blackened thrash band, I highly recommend that you pick this CD up. Quite raw and surprisingly melodic at times, Ugra-Karma is pure black fucking metal through and through.
Right from the beginning, with the typical short intro track ("Goatzied"), it becomes apparent to the listener that they're in for a treat. Mika's vocals are not as harshly incoherent as with Tol Cormpt Norz Norz Norz, but they're shrieked to perfection with none of the current near-falsetto style that he's adopted. After Goatzied is chanted out, the album quickly speeds up with possibly the best track on it, "The Horny and the Horned", a complex song that changes rapidly from a tune with dirging guitars to some of the harshest screams and quickest blastbeats I've ever heard.
"Saddhu Satana" and "Chaosgoat Law" are also spectacular tracks, that, despite using the same main tremolo picking riffage, manage to sound like the completely different tracks they are. Mika Luttinen is easily one of the most amazing vocalists in the world, and anyone who doubts that simply needs to listen to Chaosgoat Law to have their mind changed quite quickly.
Track 6, "Gott Ist Tott (Antichrist War Mix)", is, as the title implies, a very blackened industrial-sounding song, with a rather simplistic song structure, and only 8 different words comprising the lyrics of this three-minute masterpiece, but it's one of the catchiest tracks on the album. And it's abundantly clear where the current ImpNaz sound comes from.
Despite the lack of solos, the guitarists do indeed do their jobs very well, and complement each other perfectly. The CD progresses beautifully from track to track, never sounding even the slightest bit repetitive, as each song is a unique masterpiece in its own right. The lyrics, as always, are very tongue-in-cheek and typically Satanic in nature, never failing to amuse while simultaneously sounding somehow badass, despite their occasionally horrendous English ("burn you burn cyberchrist domination!", anyone?). The band refers to Ugra-Karma as being "raw cyberpunk black metal", which is pretty fitting, although labeling Ugra-Karma very well is next to impossible. Without a doubt, though, beyond the various different musical influences of this LP, it is black metal in every sense of the word, and a must have for anyone who enjoys extreme music.
Damn, this album surprised me the first time I heard it. Before I heard this and Tol Cormpt Norz Norz Norz, I always thought Impaled Nazarene played Motörhead-esque, melodic black metal, as they make it on All that you fear. When I got hold of the first two albums, my ears were shocked as hell. My ears were bleeding from this explosive mixture of black metal and grindcore. And I listened and listened to both of them albums, and both have really grewn onto me, but this little piece lacked a review so I thought I should do it.
First we'll label the music, which is kinda hard. The band themselves called it Cyber Punk or whatever, and it is an interesting mixture of different influences...The record sounds like Shane Embury joining Burzum, taking the Driller Killer drummer with him, and trying to record De Mysteriis dom Sathanas. To be a bit more serious, this album has got practically everything.
Majestic, epic-sounding riffs? Just check out "The horny and the horned" and Chaosgoat law. Crusty riffs and d-beat? Soul Rape for you. Frantic, crazed grindy madness? Goatized, Coraxo. More standard black metal? Cyberchrist. A drum machine (!) ? Check out the Antichrist War mix, Gott ist Tot.
The vocalist is great, Mr Luttinen alternates between the styles, sometimes being a black metal snarl, sometimes a more growly, death metally/crusty voice, and throwing in some really high pitched shrieks for variation. The guitarists do their job, no soloing is here but that's no problem what so ever. If you want solos, go jack off to some old Dream Theater stuff. This is CyberPunk goddammit. The bass seems to follow the guitars almost all the time, but that doesn't really matter either. Over to the drummer. When he blasts, he's a fucking slaughter machine. When he plays d-beats, he adds some nice double bass rolls and fill-ins and shit, letting some skills shine through. A synthesizer is here as well, but never in the way for rawness. Somehow, Impaled Nazarene manages to "taint" their black metal with a lot of stuff that most people can't stand, yet they do it with tonnes of attitude and with musical perfection, so it's never a problem. Production is great, very clear and trebly. All in all, a fucking great album!