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This an album constantly regarded as Mutiilations best, a black metal classic. To this day I wonder how the fuck this could even be considered average. I swear that there will be so many things that you hear here that remind you of things like wanking on your guitar when the lights are off and you have no idea where the frets are and fucking around on your friends drum kit that it's not even funny. Essentially it's a relieve when the music actually kicks in, but only because the breaks, and "atmospheric intros" suck so much.
The first problem is the playing itself. Saying this is sloppy is the understatement of the century. The guitar tremelo picking is totally random, the drums have about a range of 20 bpm between which the tempo fluctuates, and the bass cannot be heard. There is also the problem that there is the nagging use of just random playing around on the guitar. It seriously sounds like the guy is pressing down on the pick ups and then playing, or plucking the strings behind the nut. What the hell? Is this supposed to be progressive or something? Same goes for the breaks where the drums play randomly with no sense of time as if this drummer learned to play the day before.
Production is also terrible. Guitars sound so dry that I am reminded of the unpleasant image of a body drained of fluid that could crack in half. Drums sound like they were recorded with one mike placed 25 feet away in a box. Vocals are decent, at least they are raw and emotional, but some of the high screams (however hard they might be to do) are flat out grating and annoying. The fact that the vocal eq is extremely treble oriented doesn't help either. It would be fair to say that everything covered so far regarding this album is terrible, so what the hell is the big deal about this album? Well...
I can see that the riffing is decent, but the album is generally revolting. The problem is, who the fuck wants to listen to horrible music? I can understand listening to dissonant music or extremely depressive music to be in a certain state of mind or mood, but you'd have to be stupid if you're willing to listen to terrible music. If this is a landmark of black metal than 1999 was a very sad year for the genre. This music could be made by anyone. It requires no skill, it just takes playing around on a guitar for a bit and making some mediocre riffs and then adding drum parts that don't even fit or play in time half of the time. It's unfair to say that this wasn't a serious attempt, you can hear the potential that band has during some occasions, the riffs aren't half bad if you could imagine them executed well with a decent sound. There are also some nice hints at slower tempo parts where the drums actually trudge along nicely, so not all hope is lost (indeed Mutiilation did release some fairly good works over the years). There are also some references to LLN bands like Moevot with some very disturbing clean vocals that sound very forced and unmelodic. You can also hear the LLN influence on the production. This on par with the production of a Vlad Tepes demo tape.
So now that we have discussed the pitfalls of this music, I'll try to give a less subjective account of what the music sounds like, production and execution aside. It's generally in the vein of old Burzum, ringing arpeggio riffs, basic drumming, very tortured vocals, and relies on the entrancing effect of repetition. The riffing could be your standard depressive black metal song. The only song that really doesn't seem to fit (and is actually an alright song overall) is "The Fear that Freeze". With a faster and more lively tempo and less terrific production, the song is also a lot more aggressive like say Hate Forest or some Darkthrone. The song also includes the rare, and actually a very nice, guitar harmony.The album is generally typified by the three riff styles found in black metal. Ringing arpeggios, mid tempo power chord riffs, and fast tremolo riffs. Pretty average as far as pushing the limits of the genre goes.
Even though there are gleams of hope during the course of the CD, the fact is that this is a very painful 45 minutes overall. Even someone who has listened to Black Metal for years may be revolted at the production values of this CD. In short, I don't recommend this album to anyone. No-one deserves to expect a classic and end up with something like this. There are obviously many who disagree with me on this album (just read almost any other review), but I don;t see anything that makes this music (term used loosely) any good. The drumming is off time, the production is terrible, and the riffs are totally uninspired. Vocals provide some very tortured sounds which may intrigue, but get old very fast.