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One of the attractions of so called 'true' black metal music - or, to put all of those negative associations aside right now, the kind of black metal that is honest, straightforward, and which comes from the heart instead of the purse's greed - is the fervent display of emotion on hand. Here, on these kinds of recordings, we get closest to why many people consider black metal to be the 'new punk', i.e., we arrive closest to the artists and their inspirations, their emotions, and their most basic motivations in a straight line, the shortest possible distance between our understanding and their desire to express themselves. When you put everything else but the motivations behind the music aside: all the propaganda, scene dealing, shoulder rubbing and back patting, sycophancy, etc. you come to the heart of this music and the reasons why people decide one day that it's necessary to get out of bed and form a black metal band. What other form of music allows you such ready instruments for expressiveness - what genre gives itself so easily to the venting of frustration, rage, despair, etc.? What other form of music is so cathartic? What other form of music is so satisfying for the young artists who are disenchanted, drowning in violence, rebellious to a fault, filled with hatred, and craving justice? And what other form of music is so satisfying to listen to for those of us who feel the same way?
Kult ov Azazel play an extremely raw, high speed, cutting form of primitive black metal, and they excel primarily in two areas on this demo recording: the vitriolic, acid-drenched vocals, launched forth flying to scar your ears, and the rhythm work on these songs, which really stands out among their amateurish peers. As for the vocals, they are bestial, rabid, exciting, animalistic, and gut-wrenchingly honest. Kult ov Azazel are willing adherents to the reserve of the Primal Scream, that most basic, primitive, ancient instinct. No one would ever mistake these vocals for the 'produced', practiced, boring rote breathings of the fancy-filled black metal establishment. Instead, I believe the vocal style on display here is exactly what black metal has always called for and which it needs a new injection of every now and then: they are lacerating, involving, cataclysmic, and brutally honest; they fill the listening space with a tortured soul's sound and fury, with ill-bled, blenching, distorted pain. The last time I heard this style of total vocals wipeouts from a black metal band was on the Thornspawn demo tapes. Excellent.
The drumming on these songs is also worthy of notice, as it propels this material far past the usual standards of raw black metal into new territory - approaching deathgrind at times in its skull-smashing, pulsing acceleration.
In fact, I was going to start this review by comparing this band to older, more established acts in other genres or scenes. What's really interesting and eye-opening to me is the way American black metal bands twist or mutate the genetic code in cells at the center of other genres and make the styles their own. I wouldn't hesitate to compare this music (especially the first few songs on this tape) to old Napalm Death, for example, circa 'Scum' or 'From Enslavement to Obliteration'. This music shares the aesthetics of those releases: the chaos and all-consuming energy that sweeps everything before it. The guitars back this up: the riffing is, for the main part, simple one-two, one-two-three cycles of power chords sliding repeatedly through the lower registers, intercut with tremolo-grinding to add variety or more relaxed open strumming and clean breaks. To be faithful, actually, this band reminds me of no other band so much as the Japanese grindcore heroes S.O.B. - Kult ov Azazel exist in the same hellish landscape as those oft-neglected pioneers.
So, to sum up, if you are sick of all over-produced black metal bands clogging up the arteries of the scene these days, and if you feel like you need a break of fresh air, a purifying, burning wind to excoriate those listening canals and clean them of detritus, contact this growing group of possessed musicians and support their dark crusade. We need more bands like this.
Note: this band also has a split CD with Krieg on Blood Fire Death in the works, and the material they sent me from that is even more vicious than this recording, so watch out for that release.
After the release of the controversial and much hated by some, much praised by others, Triumph Of Fire, Kult Ov Azazel tries again with their Order Of The Fly. Order Of The Fly is a release of Kult Ov Azazel’s first ep. Choosing to re-release this was a good idea, certain things on this album are different and actually better than Triumph Of Fire. Perhaps one of the reasons Triumph Of Fire is a bit lacking as compared to this is that Triumph Of Fire was not recorded all at once, several songs were taken off other previous releases (some from the split with Krieg) and some songs are to long as well. This I believe compromised the power and sound of the release a bit. While Order Of The Fly is an Improvement, certain problems still plague the album.
Order Of The Fly has your standard screeching/screaming style Vocals via Xul and Xaphan. They are Identical to those on Triumph Of Fire but at certain moments in each song they are a bit more melodic due to the song structure. On Garden Of Shadows the song slows up quite a bit and sounds like something Slayer may have done in the 80’s. The riffs are melodic and thrash like, while the drums carry a simple but loud beat. This lays the work for some extended and atmosphere screeching vocals. Undeserving Fate also has a similar 80’s style thrash segment. Some of the best moments on this release are when the band gives some melodies to the guitars. On Transformation a melody driven riff is placed in the song almost as a chorus being that it is the most recognizable repeated element of the song. The centralization created from this riff makes the song more memorable, something Kult Ov Azazel’s songs lack greatly. The drums on the song are very good as well. Playing more technically than the rest of the songs on the release and focusing less of speed and aggression, but more on placement, they help make the song more interesting and memorable. This is the first Kult Ov Azazel song before the Oculus Infernum album that actually has any replay value, making it the stand out song of the release. The last three (non live tracks) songs on the release are also found on the Triumph Of Fire album except for Heaven Forever Gone, the band seems to like releasing the same songs over and over. Nothing Special Is presented on the last three tracks except on Heaven Forever Gone, just the standard of fast, aggressive, hate filled black metal Kult Of Azazel presented on Triumph Of Fire. On Heaven Forever Gone the song shows a lot more of the melody driven riffs like those in Transformation, at times they are even catchy.
Order Of The Fly can be considered loosely as a much better Version of later era Marduk, more audible guitars, but they both suffer from the lack of replay value. The bands don’t share much of the same sound musically, but the style of playing is similar. What makes Order Of The Fly somewhat of a better release than Triumph Of Fire is that it has less songs on the album, making it easier to get through. Although an album should be not be a chore to get through, Listening to Kult Ov Azazel’s Order Of The Fly can be since the last few songs of the album just sound all the same and don’t do anything that interesting or good, but nothing to terribly bad as well. This album saves itself greatly by placing a very good and memorable song at the end of the release giving it its “higher“ score. Order Of The Fly is only for big fans of the band and for those who want to check out a USBM band that is doing their own thing. Also check out this release for some aggressive, satanic, hate filled, and screeching black metal if that’s your thing.
Note: the live tracks are a nice added bonus.