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Xasthur is no more and it can be debated whether their passing has a significant impact on the black metal genre. Some refer to this band as the archetype for all that went wrong in the scene and as a negative example of the US-bm-type especially. Others point to it as a prominent example for the depressive branch of the genre and praise some of their works quite excessively. The truth might lie in between these two positions. When it comes to Taarma, then he – the person behind it of course – might rather defend the latter attitude towards American band. For what reasons should they release a tribute album if not to honour them?
In some respect, it is only natural to see this Pakistan band adding covers of Xasthur on a release, because their own art is not far away from what the Americans have created over the years. Maybe it would be fair to state them to be their archetype, the main source of inspiration, so it makes a lot of sense to pay tribute to Malefic in one way or another. Even though these four tracks on Reflecting Hateful Energy (Tribute to Xasthur) were supposedly recorded over a period of several years (2006-2010), as a listener you do not hear much of a difference in between them. These would not only be minuscule, but the whole range covers not only the sound and atmosphere, it is basically a very close interpretation of the performance of the American band.
So, Taarma seem to have a certain fancy for the metal part of the Xasthur art and refuses to take all facets into their art as well. The target audience for this release is quite obvious. One difference between these two groups should be emphasised: the Pakistani one refuses to use some of the extreme noises of the American one: those metallic screams/vocals by Malefic, those balancing issues of the instruments as well as sterile sound of the some of the works do not appear on Reflecting Hateful Energy. Rather, a dark and very atmospheric but also inoffensive approach was used for the interpretations. Xastur’s vibe and style was closely interpreted, but to see/hear this lack comes a bit of a surprise.
Based on a review originally written for ‘A dead spot of light (Number 8)’:
I must’ve come across the name Taarma at least once, ‘cause there’s something familiar about it. I have no clue to whether or not I’ve ever heard the band, but I have however heard what can only be assumed is its main inspiration - Xasthur. I’ve never been a fan of the act, nor do I particularly enjoy any similar acts since I don’t like ambient black metal. This does not bode well for Reflecting hateful energy since it’s a tribute to said band.
The opening track is to me just pointless ambience, with little to no effect at all on the listener. The title-track is a song for real, but unfortunately sounds just like I remember Xasthur to sound. It’s lo-fi as hell with a crude production with riffs that are almost inaudible due to it, annoying howling squeals for vocals and programmed drums that one really can’t hear anyway. It carries all the typical attributes of depressive black metal; a style I simply put don’t like, and is nearing despising.
What’s weird is how the sound changes character in between tracks, and each song has a production of its own. I’m not sure if it’s an attempt to capture the sound of the original recordings of Xasthur, or if the tunes were recorded on different occasions during the years. Nonetheless all three songs (not counting the opening ambient track) sound relatively the same to me as a novice in the ways of depressive, ambient black metal.
Taarma has existed since 2003 (although created in 1999 the project remained dormant until 2003 when the first recording took place), in a part of the world where metal is scarce. But somehow Black Emperor Jogezai (a cheesy name, I know) has managed to release seven demos, three EPs (including this one), two splits and two fullengths. I assume people appreciate his work, but it’s just not for me. I don’t really get the appeal for this type of black metal, and hence I can’t judge it objectively. Surely a review is meant to be somewhat subjective, otherwise it’d just be a simple description, but for Reflecting hateful energy I don’t know of any positive aspects other than the fact that the vocals for Doomed by howling winds are great. It was probably a blast for the man to pay tribute to his favourite act, but for whom else is this release meant? Is it for fans of Taarma? Wouldn’t they much rather hear more original material? Or is it for fans of Xasthur? Though would they really feel the need for such a release, and wouldn’t they much rather listen to the original recordings? I don’t know, I just don’t get it.
Originally written for My Last Chapter