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Satanic Blood puts to shame the drum sound of Death's "Scream Bloody Gore" and the goofy vocal-only tracks at the end of Havohej's "Dethrone the Son of God" - otherwise great albums with notoriously bad components that would be embarrassing for the legendary content of the releases. Von don't have any quality to redeem themselves from the poor sound quality of this demo. The sound quality of the demo is actually the best thing here, because the songs are boring as hell. The drums clunk away on slow blast beats for nearly the whole album, the exception being "Veadtuck", which is a reminder of how poor the guitar work is. There are no riffs, just repetitive droning of power chords shifting two or three times then repeating, and some occasional noodling that sounds like an amateur with poor phrasing trying to pick out a melody.
The worst part is the vocals. They sound unforgivably goofy, like a comedian trying to imitate David Vincent in a silly voice. There's no charm to them, like the awkwardly phrased but excellent vocals on Stillborn's "Necrospirituals" where the vocalist drones pleasantly like a drunken Transylvanian. Those sound a bit goofy in a good way, this sounds goofy in a bad way, a vocalist in the earlier days of death metal who hadn't figured out how to pull it off but tried anyway. So many amateurs have made charming, memorable, or at least entertaining vocal performances that were technically horrible but fun to hear. This one is bad and drenched in reverb that makes it sound even worse under a thin, trebly guitar tone.
The potent amateurism is unsurprising considering that it's from 1992, and there weren't many terrible black metal bands around yet at that time. Bestial Summoning matured and put out a classic that Von could strive to be - Von sounds like a Bestial Summoning cover band that couldn't play their way out of a wet paper bag nor find their way to the second part of the song by way of a transition. The complete lack of anything to make the music memorable - hooks in the guitars, vocals, and drums, is terminal for this demo. It's not atmospheric, the feel of it is quite crappy, but there's no hook that grabs you, something you'll find in every black metal band that didn't suck - it was quite a highlight of the French LLN scene, especially Vlad Tepes, and the Norwegians and Greeks blended melodic and rhythmic hooks and atmosphere quite well. Such pronounced attributes of songwriting were out of this band's grasp in 1992, and seem to be to this day.
Von did absolutely nothing well. Pitiful.
Everywhere I go in the metal world, people keep talking about how amazing Von is and how influential they were and how I needed to listen to it post-haste. I told them I had better albums to listen to, but people kept telling me that I owed it to myself to listen to Von and that I should review them and that I should love them. I eventually did listen to their supposedly groundbreaking demo, Satanic Blood, with an analytical ear, and I can safely say that Von is a textbook case of hype over quality.
Where do I even begin with this shit? Well, I guess I could start with the time I first listened to them back when I was a teenager. Like all other teenagers, I was an idiot yet I thought I knew everything. I was downloading metal albums and lurking around the Metal Storm forums when I read talk about this band named Von and how great they were. I downloaded their demo Satanic Blood and I love their first track. (Again, I was a stupid teenager, so I didn't know any better.) A few minutes later, I realized, “Wait a minute. This is just the same shit repeated over and over.” I got so bored of it that I deleted and completely forgot about it until today. After listening to it with older and more experienced ears, my opinion remains the same. It still sucks goat semen.
Since this is a demo, the production is bound to suck, but good music can overshadow bad production. Unfortunately for Von, their music is bad. Very bad. Their biggest problem is with the songwriting. The same formula is repeated across all eight songs. The drums consist of incessant blast beats that get repetitive real fast, the riffs consist of simple power chords repeated over and over, and the vocals consist of simple shouts repeated over and over. This formula is repeated across all eight songs. I've listened to droning ambient bands that exhibited more variety than this.
The musicianship is no better. The drummer doesn't know much beyond blasting until his arms fall off. I wouldn't mind this if it weren't for the fact that the snare sounds like he's pounding on wet cardboard. This is made more annoying by the fact that this sound is present throughout the entire album. Sure, there are fills on this album, but they're about as rare as a leprechaun in a unicorn's asshole. I know this sounds cliché, but a retard banging around in a dumpster would make better percussion than this. The guitars are just like the drums. They repeat the same three or four power chords throughout each and every song. There are a few solos on here, but they too are simple and don't push the boundaries at all. The vocals consist of some sort of pitch-shifted growl, as if he couldn't perform a real growl. He never shuts up, and his performance is so unintentionally ridiculous it borders on being outright parodic. This is especially obvious on the last song, where shortly after the halfway point, he belts out a long series of grunts that make him sound like he's humping a cow.
While we're at it, let's talk about the lyrics. They're horrible. I know that metal lyrics are nothing more than shitty poetry, but the shittiness of the lyrics on this album is inexcusable. Don't believe me? Here are the lyrics to the song “Satanic Blood”.
Pray Satan, pray Satan, pray Satan...
Need to cut
Her own skin
Son of Satan
Need to cut
Her own skin
With a razor
Spells a word
Within the chest
A single word
Carved in deep
Through the skin
Bleeds the word
How can anyone think these lyrics are good? An eight-year-old could have come up with better lyrics than this. I can't even imagine anyone writing lyrics this bad on purpose.
Also, that claim about how influential they were? Complete bullshit. This demo was released in 1992, and the second wave of black metal was well underway by then. Hell, Mayhem's Deathcrush was released five years earlier, and that album is much more worthy of praise than this stupid ass demo. Not only that, but many other bands were already doing what they were doing and they were doing a much better job at it. Just look at Rator, who released their first demo, Evil Symphony, a full two years before Satanic Blood. Sure, the production on their demo totally ate balls, but the music was far better than anything Von could come up with. Nobody gave a flying fuck about Von until Varg Vikernes brought up their name in an interview. After that, metalheads thought, “Well, if Varg likes it, I should like it too.” I know metalheads are a dimwitted, impressionable lot, but this just takes the cake. Why are you taking metal recommendations from a racist piece of shit who killed his best friend in cold blood? This blind hero worship really annoys me. Why are you treating the word of an asshole musician as if it were the word of god? You people are as sheepish as the christians you mock.
In conclusion, Von sucks and you suck for liking them. This album is a badly written, badly produced, badly played piece of shit with an annoying as fuck snare sound, guitars that have less variety than a North Korean grocery store, lyrics so bad they would make William McGonagall blush, and vocals so ridiculous they could be mistaken as satire. It's dull, boring, tedious, repetitive, mind-numbingly idiotic, and I hate it with the white hot intensity of a million Hetfields on fire!
Von was always something of a mystery. This band seemingly appeared out of nowhere, issued a limited amount of material, and then vanished into nothingness. Information was always somewhat foggy, as the 1992 self-released Satanic Blood demo was often cited as having been released in 1988, for some reason. Odd how a matter of a few years would have changed the impression of this recording, since that may have meant quite a bit more in some sense. Still, for what it is, this demo is quite worthy of some amount of praise.
My first experience with anything Von-related came when I acquired the first Dark Funeral full-length, The Secrets of the Black Arts, and heard their cover of "Satanic Blood". I'd heard the band name before but only after this had I decided to keep an eye out for their demo. Eventually, I found myself in Stockholm and discovered a copy of the demo on CD (coincidentally, through Blackmoon's record label), and picked it up. While it didn't impress me very much, it still satisfied my hunger for more material of this ilk.
While originally released as a cassette demo, the sound quality is pretty good, yet still very raw. The music is very simplistic and primitive. To say that it is minimalist would be a huge understatement, as there appears to have been very little thought regarding the songwriting. The songs just blast forth, with usually one speed, and very limited variation in riffing or vocal patterns. In some sense, Satanic Blood can be seen as the precursor to Transilvanian Hunger, using a similar riffing style and mentality as it relates to the drumming. The first four songs are all very straightforward and epitomize this sound. With the exception of one or two brief sections (the eerie riff at the beginning of "Watain", for example), it's all quite similar in feel and nearly puts the listener into a trance. The music actually comes off as somewhat ritualistic. The vocals are more like chants to some unseen darkness beyond.
The atmosphere takes on an even blacker tone, with the arrival of "Veadtuck". The pace is much slower, giving the riffs a chance to breathe and to take on more of a life of their own. The feeling conveyed is dark and almost mournful, at times. It is one of the few times when the band allows the listener to experience a different aspect of their songwriting, though this novelty may also be part of the reason that it stands out.
The rest of the songs then follow the pattern established by the first half of the demo. They feature tremolo riffs accompanied by blasting drums and deep vocals that have no sense of melody. The lead solos are also tremolo-picked and are among the highlights of the entire recording. One of the primary complaints from some critics is that all of the songs sound alike, and this is not really the case. Upon first listen, it may be an understandable conclusion, but still not accurate. A few listens will easily reveal the differences between the various riffs and each song, surprisingly enough, does possess its own identity.
Satanic Blood is not a release that will really leave you in awe. However, if you are looking for raw, minimalist Black Metal to suit your candlelight rituals, this definitely belongs on the list.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com
Von’s influence on the genre of black metal is widely acknowledged, considering the year that this demo was released and the sheer number of bands that have covered this material, or have otherwise cited them as an influence. However, influential doesn’t necessarily mean that something is good. The actual significance of Von (more specifically, this demo) is highly questionable.
To break things down a bit, Von are the quintessential raw black metal band. Primitive is a very apt description here, if one word were to suffice. However, I’d prefer to use a number of words to convey how utterly stupid and generic this music is. This demo contains most of the fundamental aspects of black metal that the listener would expect to hear, and its evidential influence is more than enough to spark an interest to the aspiring fan. Unfortunately, this demo is the old school equivalent to the average bedroom black metal band, and isn’t even worth your time if you dislike such hastily constructed nonsense.
The lack of variation and substance here is profound. The consistent, seemingly endless repetition of each song is excruciating to endure. Quite simply, this music is sterile and boring beyond your imagination. The drumming generally consists of one specific tempo, a relatively slow blast beat which dominates the majority of each song. It sounds programmed. It alone is enough to make you want to pull your hair out after a few songs. The guitar tone is incredibly thin; riffs are very basic and one-dimensional, and is very typical in regard to the style of the first wave, which by that point had already ended. Furthermore, the songwriting is as basic as early Ildjarn, (if even that) and is very elementary in composition, to say the least. Each song sounds almost exactly the same as the previous one, which is probably the single most intolerable aspect of this vacuous crap. The vocals consist of low grunting more suited for death metal standards; a not-so-typical feature of raw black metal, but regardless - they’re somewhat comical in manner, and if the intention was to convey a sense of evil, Von have failed miserably.
The year of its release doesn’t seem to merit its influential stance within the genre. The second wave was well underway in 1992, and there were a number of bands who had already improved upon the very fundamental beginnings of the first wave by that point, creating more innovative and interesting music in comparison with what is presented here. But whatever. It is what it is. I think Von generally appeals to the "look, I'm so satanic" crowd who are into the image and visual aspect of this work more than anything. It's aesthetically pleasing to those who find excitement in owning old records for the sake of owning old records on vinyl and such other "look at my awesum collection" purposes. This demo is primitive, minimal, and certainly raw; however, it’s also an endurance test. I suppose it’s cool for collective purposes, but I’d assume anyone who legitimately worships this nonsense to lack an average level of intelligence.
Yeah, that's what I'm wondering. I mean I shouldn't like this, I hate Mütiilation and I really don't like Forest or similar repetitive or raw black metal bands. It's repetitive, real simplistic, straightforward, almost mindless and doesn't have the best of production values. I like Beherit though, but here, with Von, the former almost sound complex in comparison. Still I like it. As you probably know, you get to listen to a band for a first time, and you get to discover that band first. My introduction to Von happened not too long ago; I heard a lot of talk about that American second wave black metal band, and wanted to know for sure what the fuss was all about. So since Satanic Blood was Von's first demo and only release while they were active, I got to hear that 20 minutes of pure and unadulterated black metal minimalism and relentlessness first. As I wanted to get as much as possible from my first exposure, I put all my attention on absorbing every detail or frequency the music may express. And hell, that wasnt hard one bit, there isn't much information for your cortex to process at all: almost constant, relentless drums, a more varied guitar playing - let's not even talk about bass, if you can hear it, it won't change your perception of the demo at hand - and unintelligible distorted, reverbed and at times echoed harsh vocals. Firsts minutes in, I couldn't really make any sense of its interest, but it surprisingly didn't take much time for me to find some enjoyment, making Satanic Blood grow on me with time.
After additional listens, I've come to a conclusion as to why Von is good; its success rests on a fragile, balanced formula of minimal, ritualistic black metal. You're not being bored to death by too much repetition; the same relentless tempo, drum beat and minimalist riffing through the whole length as don't play too much slower parts almost more minimalist due to their more apparent simplicity, and don’t go in overtly catchy territory either. The formula is not perfect, you got to realize how much uneasy the balance is. Sometimes it's a little too repetitive, but when you listen to their follow up demo, Blood Angel, you see them changing it a bit making the songs and the release itself lacking consistency and not being as hypnotic, ritualistic.
The core, what you'll hear for the majority of the 20 minutes, is like what I talked of earlier; constant bass drum, snare and cymbal hits and tremolo riffing, consistent in pace, the drumming barely more varied than say, Marduk. Most songs follow that formula, but with those and slower songs, the song structures are different than the norm. It can barely be two riffs being alternated, several riffs be played without being repeated, having an intro or having actual choruses. All of this, with of course keeping a rigorous sense of minimalism, simplicity and straightforwardness. I'd call these three elements; The 3 Golden Rules of Von, elements that define the band. It's those golden elements that allow other characteristics of their sound to be formed, though those are the primordial ones, elements that don't cease to exist in the evolution of the recording's experienced frequencies. But back to those relentless songs; that characteristic, along with the coupling of their "Golden Rules", forge a certain edge to their song which has a certain particularity of being hypnotic. While it doesn't necessarily equal quality like some individuals seem to think, here, with the help of several rather good riffs - there are also those which makes you feel indifferent - make that element worthwhile. The overall sound, production and riffs also make the recording belong to ritualism's brand of hypnotic, in a way comparable - although rather different in nature - to Beherit's Drawing Down the Moon.
About the minority of playtime, what prevents the album from falling into the abyss of mediocrity; the slower, less relentless moments. The songwriting seem to be a lot better there, some of their more "typical" songs were good, others were mostly just there to fit, to create consistency. So those moments come in different variations, may it be an entire song, just a small part - as small as it may be - or just a spoken intro. They come in small doses, but enough to actually change something about Satanic Blood's quality. When some song may be draggin', the next one - "Watain" - may just be a brilliantly evil minimal guitar riffing and hits on the drumkit. While the question of such a part being more minimal than the more relentless ones is debatable, the lack of as much decibels gives the perception of increased minimalism. Then comes "Lamb" with its classic spoken intro:
"Upon chapel cross
Stab the lamb
Spinning in reverse
Kaleidoscope... artistic blood"
It's not that what Goat is saying is particularly interesting, but that the words' phonetic, along with an almost unhealthy dose of effects applied on his vocals and how he pronounces these words, create a certain... sense of catchiness on the mind of the listener, having as a consequence that part being stuck in your head and knowing it by heart. Who could have guessed such minimalist, not much accessible black metal band managed to incorporate such catchy elements? I’ll re-attend that catchiness question later. So going back where I was, the following track, "Veadtuck", starts in the exact same fashion as "Lamb" while not being any less catchy, but differs from the former by being an instrumental venturing in slow paced playing while showcasing more of that genuinely evil riffing.
That's mostly everything about Von varying their songwriting in Satanic Blood really, but let's go back at that shortly left behind talk about them showing glimpses of catchiness. So I had talked about "Lamb"s catchiness, and left other points unattended. While the song is mostly similar in design to the first two tracks, the beginning features a short exchange of their relentless and slower playing, all done - the transition from one state to the other - in a matter seconds being counted on less than a complete hand of fingers, giving it a kind of catchy edge, like it makes you want to "air guitar" or "air drum". Adding to that, it's their most interesting song of the type, the riffing is more interesting as the vocal delivery being catchy unlike pretty much everything else. "Veadtuck"s simplicity, evilness and songwriting also help adding it to that category as "Christ Fire"s similar beginning to "Lamb" with its transition to consistent pace keeping basically the same riffing. Small things, but important.
As for the production, well, (un)surprisingly enough, it sucks. The mix is wrongly done too, giving more upfront presence to the drum and vocals than guitars as well as obviously seeing bass as some kind of obligatory hindering paperwork to its completion. Hell, the bass drum is even as loud as the snare. But somehow, it works. Be it because of some kind of superior, supernatural or whatnot deity's interference or just pure luck, fact - well a fact in my opinion, obviously - remains, along with the shitty production that almost sounds good due to the notes played and mixing, it works. I tend to believe it to be pure luck as say most early death metal bands as most of those guys probably lacked any kind of professionalism to make every element deliberate. And a small thing I noticed that gives some interesting effect of preserved relentlessness, tempo, hypnotic and consistency, is not shitting around between songs and keeping anything different to a minimum. Another point I ignored to talk of until now - that you may have noticed on your own - is that the demo consists of eight tracks, all of which are under 3 minutes, totalling a length of 20 minutes. It is important to put that in perspective to make any sense of what babbling I bothered to write about relentlessness, repetitiveness, catchiness or rare pace changes.
All in all, whether Satanic Blood is a minutely calculated exercise of balancing a fragile formula, was unintentional, pure luck, a result of youthful spontaneity or enthusiasm, or any combination of the above is only subject to the listener's interpretation of it or what he wants it to be. Still, it is obvious that not only Von is a love or hate thing, but also that it is a hit or miss. While not hitting the bullseye, they managed to at least score a multiplier, it also makes you think of how boring the band could have end up - probably got the lesser multipliers - that it could have ended up as some kind of failed Hellhammer; uneventful and unremarkable. So, I recommend this to anyone who's interested in early second wave black metal - even more considering it is an American band and that some people even put them in the same boat as Venom, Bathory or Hellhammer - or any minimalist metal.
Personally, I'm a huge fan old of old school black metal, living in Norway I've had a huge opportunity to really get into the genre of black metal as a whole, explore some of its roots, and really experience the genre first hand. If you were to ask me who the most influential bands in the genre are, well, the answer is not too difficult. Bathory, Mayhem and other old school classics come to mind, after all they started the lo-fi harsh vocal fronted music that has come to be known as black metal. Ask many metalheads about influential black metal bands, and your bound to hear the name VON be brought up.
For me, VON have never stood out in any way whatsoever. First of all, their influence seems to be overblown completely, albums like the Bathory self titled and Deathcrush were out way before this demo, which despite many opinions, I believe holds no originality or special qualities. VON's music like a lot of black metal, is very simple, very. Now, normally simplicity is never an issue in black metal, take Transilvanian Hunger for example, each song does not have many riffs or changing sections, yet, the music is still very good and holds tons of atmosphere which makes it enjoyable, and that is really where VON fails, they don't suceed at making any kind of atmosphere with their music.
All of the songs found on Satanic Blood sound EXACTLY the same, they are near impossible to tell apart. Like I said, using only a few riffs per song is not normally an issue, but when every single riff on the whole demo sounds the same, then you have a problem. All of the songs drone on with no more than 1 or 2 identical sounding riff, this makes the songs amazingly boring and unmemorable. The whole album suceeds at being unmemorable or boring in just about every fashion really, the drumming patterns don't change at all, which also is not normally an issue but when you have one droning riff with one droning drum pattern in the background, the 2 don't exactly help each other out at making the song more interesting.
Bass is nowhere to be found, but it is black metal so the issue does not really matter. Vocally this album isn't very strong either, Goat's vocals are a very low growl, and although they may fit the droning music they are wholly uninteresting as well, only making the album stand out even less than it already can.
So what are we left with? A terribly boring, repetitive, and wholly uninteresting album that proves to be nothing but a time waster for those listening to it. VON in my opinion even fails at being original or even that influencial, unless you count the idiotic worship bands that have spawned as a result. Really, I don't even see the old school appeal to this, as Satanic Blood was released in 1992, black metal had already gotten a fine start before this atrocity came around. If you want to get this album, I suggest turning your attention to Beherit's Drawing Down the Moon instead, as it is a much, much, much, better album with some similar features.
When it comes to first wave black metal, Von seems to be brought up from time to time. An obscure band that hails from the US and all the way back to 1989 had been playing black metal and considered one of the forefathers of the genre itself sometimes in comparison with the likes of Bathory, Celtic Frost, Hellhammer, Mayhem, and Venom. As for if they compare to those bands, that can be debatable, however as a whole this demo is actually one of the better cult classics.
The demo itself is exactly what you'd expect. Raw, minimalistic black metal with terrible production. The production is definitely something to get used to for some listeners and will be downright intolerable for others. The music itself is also nothing to really look at and think of as something amazing. Many time the same one or two 3 note riffs being played over and over again for the span of the song. The minimalism however is delivered and executed very well for an early black metal release. The vocals are well delivered and executed in a way that is tolerable, mixed low with the rest of music, though the noticeable delay that shows up on certain tracks can take away from them at times things only get better and better.
Von is definitely a cult classic among black metal and one of the better received bands from the first wave of black metal. So if I like this recording why the low score? The potential was there to be an even better recording when it comes to many factors, i wouldn't rate this demo highly along the likes of some professional albums, though you could definitely see if von had the chance to record a full length or rerecord this material officially it could've been one of the best early black metal records, so where it lacks it could've potentially be a much stronger release than it really was, but don't let that take away your opportunities to listen to this demo, it's more than worth it to play at least once if you're a fan of black metal. Hail Von!
"Satanic Blood" is the audial equivalent of a new born being sacrificed during a black rite. It's visceral, hard to bare witness to, and simply evil. Whether the members of Von took its existence seriously or not, clearly they functioned as a collective medium for something otherworldly. Indeed, while other records exist that are akin to this, there's something about "Satanic Blood" that makes the listener (if they're giving it their whole-hearted attention) feel uneasy.
For some, the near constant snare/kick blasting gets to be monotonous (apart from the slow and gloriously atmospheric "Veadtuck"), but for the more open minded, the relentless pounding has a hypnotic effect, adding to its black magical quality.
Another point of interest here is that other bands of this ilk, I think, tend to be more chaotic. While Von, as a band, are actually pretty tight, further enhancing the feeling of a collective unit that is subjecting you to something intense and unholy.
And speaking of unholy, the lyrics are about as cryptically phrased and violent as it gets. Truly dark stuff.
This is one of those records that people either worship or loathe. I, for one, worship at the blood soaked altar of Von.
I don't remember exactly how I came across this band and this work of theirs. I downloaded it out of word of mouth and curiousity. Once this got hold on my mp3 player it's been played to death since. I'm a nut for basic raw black metal, early Bathory, Mayhem, Burzum, Darkthrone, LLN, etc... The drums are practically played one way the whole time with blastbeats and the guitars are your basic droning, shrill, repetitive sound. The vocals are deep but with echo-effect. The production is really low, done on 4 track most likely. It's all done economically, stripped down black metal and probably not much to produce either. Still this album influenced a legion of people and bands. 'Transylvanian Hunger' must've been done the same way and Watain even named themselves after the song. The most surprising thing is that this is from San Francisco and not Scandinavia or France. It would be difficult to follow this up since it's so limited, musically speaking. In a way, it was a one off project that couldn't last very long. I'm aware that unreleased songs came out on the Satanic Blood Angel album but after hearing that I realize that they were not able to expand upon that sound very much, thus probably ending the band effectively. Whether this was all done intentionally, by accident or as a joke is not the point, the impact and influence of this demo was taken seriously, very seriously. This is not by any means epic or grandiose, it's just simple black metal 101. For those of us who still appreciate this music done this way, you'll enjoy this to no end.