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How can this possibly exist? - 97%

Spawnhorde, November 9th, 2004

Let's take a look at the background of this band first of all. They released a bunch of demos, and some full-lengths, although everything before this album was virtually impossible to find outside of the internet. They are a bunch of individuals who broke away from the ELF (the Earth Liberation Front, a group of ecoterrorists who cause large amounts of damage to people and corporations who use the environment to capitalize on public market) to start something "more extreme."

I think they've done it, folks.

What we have here are churning layers of minimalistic black metal ; the likes hardly anyone foresaw coming from Portalnd, Oregon. The riffs are constant and omnipresent, yet so there that they don't feel there at all. Their tone is apparently gotten by running a guitar (powered by gas flames) through an aquarium, which causes reverbrating and resonating audial terror to unleash upon whoever hears it.

The tone is thick and bassy, yet full of vibrant hum. Imagine The Work Which Transforms God, only less string-bending weirdness and more straightforward attack. The songs are mostly midpaced, but sometimes break into very fast parts. The percussion is very well implemented. Drumming is accentual, and, although obviously there, it's mixed perfectly into the concretion of cascading chords and riffs.

The vocals are horrifying utterances in the far background of the songs, giving an almost shudderingly subtle accent to the mainly guitar-driven compositions.

Track one (appropriately titled '1') is basic black metal, but definitely original in its own sense. This band has stayed far, far removed from the public eye until recently, when they released this album upon the unsuspecting public. Their uncaring, nonchalant attitude towards other societies and the public in general is quite unsettling, to say the least, but, they seem like decent enough people. Needless to say, you'd never get that feeling from this droning mass of atonal and jarring riffing. The keyboard implementation in Laudanum is excellent, as well.

What is perhaps most interesting about this band is their open-endedness. They don't want to dictate what the listener should get from the music. They want you to hear it for what it is and make your own meanings.

They even implement a completely synth dark ambient track (which is a whopping 17 and a half minutes long) which symbiotically attaches itself to the listener over the span of its existence. Fans of the aforementioned Lustmord, L.E.A.K., Coph Nia, etc. will adore this track immensely.

You're probably wondering why I chose that as a review title. I mean exactly what I say. How does something this disturbingly lifeless yet organic and seemingly living actually make its way onto a CD? How does a band that seemingly cares nothing about anything else in the black metal scene transcend so many previously unattainable boundaries in said scene? The band does many hallucinogenic drugs to alter their perception of the world and distort their sick dreams and fantasies into recordable pieces of art.

What is sad about this album is that it is most likely going to be the last one officially released. Even so, this is pure cold black metal art for the elitist black metal fan. The pure originality present here is unbelievable. Definitely one of the best releases of this year, and one of the best in black metal for a long time.