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Unbelievably unique and atmospheric, albeit flawed - 69%

MutantClannfear, November 29th, 2012

I'll be as upfront as possible - Prizm of Hate is likely to be the weirdest black metal album that you or I will probably ever hear in our lifetimes. You could read every single online review on it that you can find and you still won't be properly prepared for what the music sounds like. I'm not kidding or exaggerating: this makes Deathspell Omega sound like an amalgamation of all the $3 shit you see for sale in distros' clearance sections. Whether you like this musically or not (you're probably not retarded like me, so I'd put my money on the latter), I think you'll be able to agree that there has been no metal band even remotely like this ever before.

I'm beginning to realise that the most genre-defying music is not inspired by years of musical knowledge and a fundamental understanding of how music is supposed to work, but rather the complete opposite - complete ignorance and attempts to create music without fully understanding how to do so. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not going to start some pretentious rant about how outsider music is the purest form of art, but I think it's generally accepted to most that you can listen to The Shaggs and agree that they sound much stranger than bands of perceived virtuosos with years of musical experience and formal training, such as, say, Opeth. I relate Jewicide to this because it sounds like black metal based on a description of black metal, rather than someone listening to the genre and taking their own spin on it. I mean, I'm sure the creator of Prizm of Hate has heard black metal at some point in his life, considering that they knew enough about it to determine that there was a sect within it devoted to National Socialism, but it sounds as if he heard maybe a few select bands and left it at that. There is simply no way that someone with years of experience in the black metal scene could even begin to think of conjuring something this primitive, this autistic, this innocently naïve.

I suppose the man behind Jewicide has heard enough of typical NSBM to determine that the subgenre typically goes for an anthemic, marching sort of pace rather than a crawling, mid-paced, or blast-heavy approach. But it's with that familiar element of NSBM that the similarities to any other band on Earth diminish - Jewicide have a set of elements (primarily in their guitars) that separate them from practically any standards set by black metal in the past. I suppose that retrospectively this sounds a bit like the South Korean band Infinite Hatred in its guitar tone, and the droning riffs sometimes bring to mind some of the Israeli Animus's work, but this is still so wholly unique, existing in its own little world, that frankly comparing it to other bands' music feels a bit unfair.

The main reason that this album is so otherworldly is the guitars. The most immediately upfront sonic element in the listener's ears is a thin, static, and unwavering hiss which is ever-present in the mix (but not particularly harsh or disruptive), but a bit further down lie the guitars (and a bit further than that, the bass), which have this ever-present sort of depth and echo to them. This depth is further accentuated by occasional synth use, in which a choir voice mixes with the guitar and follows it around like a rhythm guitar. Normally this would sound cheesy as hell, but in Jewicide's case the guitars and synths occupy the same sonic space and mesh together, instead of clashing awkwardly and battling for dominance within the mix. The end result is that the guitars are even more ethereal than the album's average half the time, and while this overall depth of tone would be an oddity easily overlooked if the riffs were just Darkthrone or Immortal worship, they're certainly not - they're just as strange and atmospheric as the guitar tone utilised to demonstrate them. They alternate between twanged open notes to tremolos that are too fast and raw to distinguish from sustained whole notes, but both styles are unified in that they're all melodic in a disturbingly spacey, grandiose and atmospheric way. The riffs don't go for punch as much as they attempt to drown the listener in walls of sound, and for the most part they work - for a bedroom album, Prizm of Hate is pretty dense. While the album in general is pretty atmospheric even when compared to the entire spectrum of black metal, there's still a few moments where the oddity of it all passes completely out of the listener's conscious thought, and gives way to feelings of magnificence and beauty - take the riff in the middle of the title track, or the blastier parts of "Nightfury", or the awe-inspiring performance throughout "Sea of Fyre", or even that weird, prancy instrumental in the middle of the album which sounds like Christmas music mixed with the sort of demented carnival music that you imagine goes on inside a schizophrenic patient's head. Jewicide's odd guitar tone alone and unconventional riffing style are enough to, at the very least, keep you interested; but it's at moments like the aforementioned few where the band really starts to shine. It's at moments like those when Jewicide atmospherically reminds me a lot of Animus's album Poems for the Aching, Swords for the Hallucinating - listening to them, you feel as if the summation of the psychological reaction to every single human emotion is coursing through you at once, without any of it manifesting itself into a personally-felt feeling. It is the sensation of experiencing pure, undiluted beauty, and while it's admittedly stronger-felt on that Animus album, the fact that this album achieves such a mood of sheer wonder at all deserves to be noted, since I could count the other bands who have achieved it on one hand.

Unfortunately, where the guitars succeed at carving a wholly unique sound that belongs to Jewicide and only Jewicide, the rest of the musical elements don't do much to continue developing in that direction, which just reinforces my suspicions that the band just sort of stumbled across genius instead of consciously attempting to creating it. The vocals are another element for which comparisons to Animus can be made, in that they're recorded through an extremely sub-par microphone; but whereas Animus's vocals are thinner but retain fluctuations in tone and emphasis, Jewicide's vocals are actually pretty thick but delivered in an impish monotone rasp which is probably closer to a whisper than an outright screech. The other vocals here don't help much at all: vocal fry frog croaks appear from time to time, but they're certainly not deep or forceful enough to sound like anything death metal and come across as rather stupid; and "N.O.S. (National Order of Satan)" features some bizarrely laid-back, half-sung chants which sound about as unthreatening as you're probably imagining right now. While the vocals can be passed off as mediocre, much less can be said for the drums, which can only be detected in the music as a crash cymbal and a snare drum. The snare drum is undoubtedly the most egregious offender here, frankly sounding awful on levels previously unable to be comprehended by humans. The snare not only clacks as if it's ridiculously flat, and remains consistently off-time (and not in the endearing way, but the "this is becoming an active impediment to enjoying this music" way), but yes, when the band pick up to blast speed it sounds like a steam engine clanking down railroad tracks and releasing puffs of steam. It certainly doesn't help that its use constitutes over 90% of Prizm of Hate's audible drum beats, and in the end it renders the album's entire drum performance as noise, rubbish to be ignored in an effort to appreciate the riffs.

Again, I have to say that my preceding paragraphs really don't do the utter "wat" factor of Jewicide's music much justice, as it simply breaks every single musical standard that black metal has ever set for itself in a way that defies traditional description. For anyone involved in extreme metal, this is definitely a must-listen - whether you hear it and decide you adore it or despise it (again, it'll probably be the latter, but I personally feel that if another band were to ever cover this material but lay down some proper drum beats and improve the vocals, it would be an absolute masterpiece; and if I stumbled across a CD copy of this I'd eagerly buy it), this is simply one of those albums you must hear before you die. Even though racially and sexually I'm probably one of the people the artist was trying to persecute with his music, I'm probably Jewicide's biggest fan at this point; Prizm of Hate is some wonderfully primitive stuff that gives off vibes unlike those created by any other music on Earth. You seriously have to hear this to believe it.