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Russian black metal has long trailed a detestable reputation because of its releases’ execrable quality. But things seem to be improving in the steppe country. I have been fortunate over the last two years, listening to some remarkable Russian albums, well written and performed. However, any amelioration is not homogenous. This observation came to me while listening Tetraktis, SS-18 new album (named in honor of a Russian ballistic missile also called “Satana”, and not any Schutzstaffel unit). Industrial-flavoured black metal proposed by this North Caucasus band has several weaknesses that must be identified.
First, a word on an audio detail that gives me the creeps every time I hear it: drum snare sounds like a tin can. The resulting “tactactac” annoys me to the highest point and affect my other instruments’ appreciation. I will always dedicate to public obloquy “the” musician or sound technician who, first, considered this horrible sound to be a good idea.
But let us go beyond this and analyze rest of the album. It offers eight titles overall quick and linear, driven by rough but correct production. Song writing relies heavily on rhythmic loops succession, played repeatedly throughout each song, giving a standardized but very repetitive result. Only a few slower and groovy passages, especially Secundus Gladius: Bacteriologicus Meridies’ introduction, offer listeners a slight respite between floods of blasts. Furthermore, despite band claims, industrial elements are rare and carelessly sprinkled everywhere on the album, giving the unfortunate impression that this aspect of SS-18 music does not really matter to its members. And it is certainly not Fabra Ars – Ars Mori, which conclude the album that will change my perception: it’s clearly filling.
Tetraktis never managed to captivate me and Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes was the only track I really liked. A meager result, you would probably agree. Many defects identified previously are obscuring too few qualities of this record, which would have benefited from more work, enriched by more industrial inputs more and a greater riff variety. And get rid of that awful drum sound, dammit! 5/10
Originally written for Métal Obscur.