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Existence Precedes Extinction is the debut non-demo recording of Hellbourne-based Sanguinary Misanthropia, a band with a style of black metal both as orthodox and indulgent as their band name. A lengthy average song length and a penchant for chucking some war metal influences all over Norway's black metal tableau makes for an Easter Egg of an EP for a learned black metal head, and more often than not a pretty rewarding one, despite the band's apparent distaste for self-editing.
Whirling tremolo-picked guitar lines, throbbing mid-paced blast beats and light rasps announce 'Invokayshn', with a few more blasty and forceful breaks reminiscent of Gorgoroth or older Impiety. For the most part however it streams comfortably along in orthodox black metal territory, the Tooheys drinking equivalent of Norway's black metal school. Gorgoroth's later days glimmer through more in 'Destruction of the Unknowable God', which is all piss and vinegar and blasphemous riffs.
I notice with both songs however that they are structurally bloated, leaving themselves too much space to stretch and losing some of the tightness their brand of black metal might have had. However, 'Blemished With the Rust of Ancient Nails' (what a cracking song title) and most of 'Of Death and Genocide' have some of the same streamlined, propulsive tremolo riffs and technical, cascading drum patterns as Singaporean troublemakers Draconis Infernum, and are generally more compact tracks.
The languid lengths and changing paces of the rest of the EP aren't always a curse. The slower moments, at the end of the openers and strewn elsewhere on this EP, are pretty satisfying and atmospheric black metal guitar creaks over simple drum rolls. I'm a sucker for jangling blackened chords such as the ones which pervade the third act of 'Destruction of the Unknowable God'. 'Of Death and Genocide' even gets a bit groovy with some bouncy mid-paced riffs breaking up the carnage. Makes for a cool-as-fuck motif. 'Human Sacrifice by Fire' comes to a really fucking epic end, some absolute beauts of guitar riffs leading to the final blast beat charge.
I'm very much for picking a direction and then heading that way, and Sanguinary's first foray into a studio has a bit of rambling going on (you could comfortably shave a few minutes from this recording). However when it's good, it's pretty fucking good, and shows a lot of promise. Guitarist Unbeliever (I wonder if he's read Thomas Covenant) is pretty capable, and his occasional sewer-growls compliment his rasps nicely. Drummer Arcana is definitely a keeper and would likely kick arse live. Put it this way, if I was in Australia, I'd go down to a show, and also ask them when the full-length is coming.
From what I have read, Australian’s are disgruntled by the lack of talent that their black metal scene shows in the modern era. New South Wales has its fair share of engrossing black metal acts, such as Pestilential Shadows, but that scene is dominated by a few musicians who play their trade within similar bands, showing a lack of depth in the scene across Australia’s isolated shores. Though the few bands who do receive attention receive it in abundance, the underground is neglected in favour of more fruitful pursuits abroad. Bands like Abyssic Hate signalled some intent in the early 1990’s, showcasing a possible ability at sprouting up a lavish scene with their “Burzumic” feel, but that never came to fruition. The harsh reality is that Australia are miles behind their fellow contenders in the marathon race that is leading the black metal scene into the next decade. Scandinavia had its run at leading from the front, but soon fell behind as the region exerted itself far too early, eventually petering out and becoming just another face in the crowd as the likes of Burzum, Darkthrone and Mayhem dwindled. Mainland Europe is home to the current forerunners in the race and when the individual explorer takes their time to carefully unfold the beauty of the European scene just like a budding flower begins to open its colourful petals to the watchful eye of the world, mesmerising by its seductive swirl of patterns, they soon realise why it is that Australia have fallen behind.
Unfortunately, Sanguinary Misanthropia, a four piece from Melbourne, do not do anything to dispel the idea that Australia lacks the depth to mount a serious challenge for the crown of black metal leaders. There is nothing in particular that is inherently wrong with the straightforward style of Sanguinary Misanthropia, but therein lies the problem that has hit Australia’s black metal musicians like the Great Depression, the scene is too straightforward and lacks the vision to inspire the next generation of followers into believing this isolated area of the world is competent enough to lead the way in terms of innovative ideas that will keep the genre fresh sounding for years to come until a younger model takes hold of the reigns. I suppose it has to be discussed in relate to both leading the way and the bands sound, but going by the picture of what seems to be one of the bands musicians on their profile, the band have deep seeded Nazism roots. I have a feeling that this element of their image will instantly push away a great deal of potential fans as a lot of people struggle to separate ideology from music. I don’t consider myself to have this problem. I’m not a Nazi sympathiser.
In fact, I have no ideology, or religious beliefs whatsoever. I’m not a very spiritual person in that sense and don’t have any trouble removing the potentially Nazi based ideas from my mind and deal with the instrumentation alone. In terms of being a world beater, National Socialist bands have never fared well. It’s an area of black metal would epitomises the “love it or hate it” expression. Of course, there are those few who sit on the fence and judge it based entirely on the instrumental portrayal and not on the political aspects, but these are few and far between. As a reviewer, I suppose I have to remain impartial and cannot disparage Sanguinary Misanthropia based simply on the fact that they might be a National Socialist band themselves. Truth of the matter is, I do not know if they are or not. The profile picture would suggest so however. Instrumentally, Sanguinary Misanthropia’s debut, ‘Existence Precedes Extinction’ is a rather bland black metal affair which relies heavily on age old methods of repetition and a dull sound production over the top. In order to perfect a repetitious style, a band at least has to have captivating instrumental sections, particularly on guitar.
The riffs are required to captivate and crush, but they do neither here, unfortunately. There are moments of variation, as the vocals switch from venomous rasps to deathly growls and the tempos are slower down, providing a more introspective portrayal of the lyrical themes, as opposed to becoming overbearing with repetition. The production does afford a sense of accessibility to the instrumentation with areas like the bass being distinctive throughout, but once again, the conclusions are somewhat dull and uninteresting. There are no memorable guitar riffs and the vocals give an odd sense of hybridism between black and death metal which isn’t shown as much in the instrumental aspects. A lot of the material reminds me of mid-era Enslaved, particularly the harsh black metal rasps from the vocalist. The Australian’s are a lot more conventional however and are not able to implement any sense of creativity or dynamism into their game which Enslaved have done over the years as they’ve switched from black metal to progressive. Sanguinary Misanthropia are a good indication of why I moved away from the brash, rawer side of black metal in favour of atmosphere. Uninteresting for large periods at a time and very flat sounding.
Here is a blasting, blasphemous slab of Melbournian Black Metal that will devastate your senses with 30 minutes of intense, horrific Black/Death Metal and unusually lucid and poetic lyrics detailing the fallacy and the fall of YHWH. This being a Sydney zine, it is natural that I hear everything about the local goings on, but not so much of the same elsewhere; so it is always a good thing for me to discover a worthy extreme act from parts beyond. Also I say “Melbournian” specifically because this has that War Metal style to it of relentless blasting structures and hoarse shrieks and growls announcing unforgiving hatred of Judaism and Christianity.
This also reminds me of Portal – SM has the same chaotic writing style that makes for such a compelling listen in the case of Portal.
The EP is very well-produced. This is a studio production with live drums and a dense wall of guitar noise bearing heavily down on a clean, precise bass, hovering pleasantly in the background. The band employs shrill, neurotic double-tracked guitar leads and morbid strums to create evil atmospheres with little to no melody, although the occasional glimmer thereof produces a nice dissonant effect in what is already a sea of dissonance.
I can’t say much more about the music – it’s style is uniform throughout and flawlessly performed. One other surprising thing about Sanguinary Misanthropia is the extensive lyric sheet – a rare sight with underground performers who often obscure their lyrics under the guise that they are “too personal”. It is always good to read something this though-provoking and as you can see the interview dwells on the lyrics quite a bit.
So here we have a relentless, no-bullshit EP from a completely new artist, whose live performances I look forward to very much.
I think that Sanguinary Misanthropia may be one of the several younger bands that have come out in the recent years and have managed to escape the gravitational pull of former Melbourne glories such as D666 and Gospel of the Horns. Great as those guys are, I have not really heard anything new come out of Melbourne for some years, it all being very black/thrash and predictable – here, finally is progression.
Originally published in Procession of Black Doom zine #3