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Murustrictus' three song demo Eternity, though generic, offers some ingredients that fans of the black metal genre won't mind sinking their teeth into. The five man snooze crew from the United Kingdom emphasize what I don't need to hear at all any day. Though many times such as in opening track "Cycle of Eternity," the band resort to heard it before - don't need to hear it again black metal fast food, they also do offer some interesting melodic interplay. My gripe ends up being not with the genericness of the band but with the regurgitation of simple song structures and previously heard, but not altered melodies from earlier in the tracks. Often, the demo becomes predictable and bogged down in predetermination. Adding to the generic nature of the whole effort are black metal vocals that were hand picked off the shelf in a Wal-Mart aisle dedicated to crap nobody needs to hear again.
Production wise the demo is acceptable though at times flaws reveal themselves. Second track Purgatory is evidence of a poor mix which emphasizes a mediocre lead rather than the overall effect of the track. The resulting diminishment of dynamic between other instruments is hard to swallow, especially when said mediocre riff appears later in the song with an obvious trim adjustment towards the phrasing's big entry to create 'dynamic.' For some reason there is a gunshot or whip crack or butcher's knife on cutting board cue right before which appears twice in the track, once on the part's recurrence and another times when the whole segment is copied to another part later in the track. Though the percussion throughout the demo tends to be strong, last track "The Path Of Chaos," is evidence of either a lack of interest in the song, a lack of interest on the band to get a better performance or absolutely no time spent rehearsing. The kick is obviously not in time at moments and often lags behind, creating a pure essence of yeah, whatever guys.
Ultimately. I would pass this by. Even though I dig the artwork a lot - it really is a pretty excellent cover - it's not going to change the fact that Murustrictus' demo is oozing with some foul puss when it needs to be bleeding pure blood. It doesn't help that they let the puss dry and harden to the point where it needs to be removed by scraping it off the skin with a small razor. Every song is pockmarked with dried puss. Add to this disgusting metaphor of inconsistency-gone-awry the fact that the whole demo is so short it really doesn't warrant a purchase anyway. Eternity doesn't last long enough to really get a good feel for what the band is capable of and, unfortunately for Murustrictus, it becomes clear that this isn't going to be a demo that I will be sound-checking too often. There are some strong moments but who wants to watch a weightlifter who only works out one arm?
Originally written for Contaminated Tones
Black metal is simply brimming with ideology. Individualism, always setting oneself apart from others. Acknowledgement, eternally paying homage to the legends of black metal, a pantheon of men in makeup with silly names that varies surprisingly little between the various and otherwise diverse creeds. Aesthetics, occasionally visual, always aural - the production standards of black metal have almost entirely disappeared from unrelated styles, while two decades have now been spent attempting to perfect every degree of these sounds. There are more that need not be enumerated here.
All of these constitute Murustrictus. More or less, every convention of black metal is mixed together here - tremolo chords, raspy vocals, lots of treble that fizzes out into the atmosphere of the album. The atmosphere is a mixture of the hiss of the guitar amps and the cymbals, seemingly unmixed. It's nothing out of the ordinary, it has been done better many times, but it does help give the unimaginative performances a bit more feeling.
The drumming is full of fills, a fairly unique aspect to this album, but it is often out of time. The entire performance and recording is very sloppy, everyone seems to be marching to the beat of a different drummer, which may be why the drummer opted for so many fills, to try to outplay the boring drummers and broken timekeepers in the guitarists heads. The roughness in performance and production is reminiscent of the black metal coming from Finland for the past decade or so, but the performances are sloppy enough that they make Horna's off-releases seem tight. It's not pretty, and it's not ugly enough to stop and gawk.
While the odd drumming stands out a bit, it doesn't really stand out in a good way. The rest of the music blends into tired conventions of black metal that have all been executed better countless times before. The band almost does a respectable job of mimicing others, but they fall short of any of it really being enjoyable. Comprehensive mediocrity stands behind a thin veil of unmastered aesthetics - a few listens to this over a few weeks and there simply isn't much to enjoy about it, it has lots of weaknesses and no real strengths, nothing to look past the flaws to enjoy. The flaws show through a little more with each listen, and the lack of substance is incredibly apparent.
In a sea of black metal demos, it's easy to sail past this one.
Black metal has always been a genre known for producing an unusually large amount of generic bands. Its not a complaint that can be levelled solely at the grim offshoot of extreme metal (wake me up when we get a single big name in neothrash that isn't shamelessly whoring their love of a particular 80s success) but you'd need to have your head jammed under a rock not to have noticed it. Murustrictus are, unfortunately, well in that category. They have every musical element of BM that a purist could want – dissonant tremolo riffs, raspy vocals, sloppy drumming and a bass player who may or may not have died in the recording booth without anyone noticing – all held together by production raw and thin enough to slice your ears open. Somehow they manage to accomplish this without sounding like a clone of any individual band. What I hear is a mashup of every genre convention, taking elements from major styles of black metal without ever really crossing boundaries or ignoring cliches. For work in a genre founded on transgression, its remarkably tame.
Riffwise, you have all your standard approaches. Two-chord tremolo atmospheres borrowed from Transilvanian Hunger, more drawn out buzzing drones that sound like they were pinched from an early I Shalt Become album and the odd martial stomp that feels straight from an Antaeus or Marduk break. All cloaked in an almost digital, reed thin tone that feels like a claw in your ear. None of it is horrible but nor is it memorable. Everything is cold and biting but it fails to make much of an impression.
Vocals are the usual rasps and screeches delivered in an almost ranting and raving style. While they're almost the highlight, this is still typical black metal. That means sparse vocals in the middle of the mix. Not something that can carry things by themselves.
I don't need to comment on the bass. It is impossible to fuck up bass on a black metal demo when no-one can hear it in the first place.
I do take issue with the drumming though. Its the single most unique thing on this demo and also the worst. This is where Murustrictus breaks from the norm, employing a wider range of beats and fills than standard for the genre. In its wildest moments it almost bears comparing to the self taught insanity of Inferno Requiem (though it never reaches the same levels of bizarre). But none of that matters when the drummer is consistently getting off time with his fills – off time by BM standards, not techdeath precision hammering – and appears to have trouble keeping his strikes consistent. I applaud the idea of not using triggers in extreme metal but when the kicks are fading into near inaudibility, there's something to be said for a little computer manipulation.
As everyone has probably picked up by this point, the overall package is notable mostly for its lack of notability. Not an outright bad release, its just held back by an almost complete lack of identity even in a genre where imitation is the sincerest form of worship. Still, that homogeneity cuts both ways – no fan of the genre is going to be unhappy with the music given. They just might wish it left more of an impact than 'yeah, we think the classics are awesome'.