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Really good but also unconventional music. - 82%

oneyoudontknow, April 16th, 2009

First of all: this release is not for everyone ... got it? So, kiddy, if you praise the so-called suicidal black metal, think Alcest are the greatest band in the world or see in the post-black metal niche the only true form of said genre, then Woods of Belial is a band you should definitely avoid; put it on your pink wall of hate if you like. So, fuck off and weep to some faggoty depressive black metal and pretend the world to be an endless festering cesspool of misery; you most certainly do not have to continue reading.

To all sick minds, as well as other black metal and funeral doom fans I would like to whole-heartily recommend this piece of black art as an example for the potential and unconventionality that lies barren so often. Bands seem to have some amount of reluctance to explore the barriers of the genre and tend to stick too much too the safe shores. Anyway, the term black metal has to be stretched when it comes to this release, not always due to characteristic elements, riffs and motives in the music, but rather how it presents itself to the listener; what kind of atmosphere this person has to go through. Black, doom and industrial all have their place in this piece of art, but combined in an uncommonly fashion.

I:The unholy pentagram

A difference to the second demo is way the music had been composed for the first one. It offers a stronger emphasis on the music and its melodies, an aspect whose balance would change on Baxabaxaxaxaxabaxaxaxaxa! 666 Yndstr Draconis. The path towards some extreme form of music is already set on The unholy pentagram, but it is not convincing, yet. Those three compositions are simply too short and are also too fast -- there are some blast part in the black metal -- to create the same kind of impression the three preceding tracks -- the track list on the Woods of Belial compilation is not chronological -- from the later release would be able to. Black metal with weird vocals can be found here, with occasionally fast bursts and solo parts are an adequate description of the performance of Woods of Belial on their early piece. The vocals and their resemblance to insanity are already there, but their passages are longer and have to find their role in the music, yet.

II:Baxabaxaxaxaxabaxaxaxaxa! 666 Yndstr Draconis

Was the first demo already disturbing, and then the second one is even a step further. It sounds more coherent, offers the facets in a sounder framework and balancing. This is sinister, music from a horror-movie, from a scene in which the feeble victims are tortured over excess and the listener is joining the proceedings with a keen interest and subliminal lust; always waiting for the torturer to punish the mutilated bodies more and more. One more moan, one more scream, one more ejaculation of pain... until the final breath is released, which puts the souls and the pile of flesh to rest.

Is the music important? It creates the basis, keeps it all going, orchestrates the process of torturing and makes it palatable. The slow, monotonous progression of the rhythms emphasises the screams, puts them into their right place, and support Woods of Belial in their attempt to create the impression of music that has been taken out of a chamber in hell in which some demons enjoy themselves in mutilating the souls and by trying to break their sanity. It reminds on this:
[O]utside the ordered universe [is] that amorphous blight of nethermost confusion which blasphemes and bubbles at the center of all infinity-the boundless daemon sultan Azathoth, whose name no lips dare speak aloud, and who gnaws hungrily in inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond time and space amidst the muffled, maddening beating of vile drums and the thin monotonous whine of accursed flutes. (H. P. Lovecraft, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, in At The Mountains of Madness, p. 308.; taken from Wikipedia)

Inside there are the screaming victims, while they are surrounded by a pandemonium of instruments. Death is a relief, whose mercy seem to have abandoned this place.

Final bits and bytes
So, fans of the so-called torture doom genre should give this release a try. Woods of Belial proceed with a different approach than bands like Black Bile (Cyp), Senthil or Bosque for instance, but they did a pretty good job on their two demos -- which appear together on this release entitled after the band's name --, nonetheless. The neat aspect of this release is the possibility to follow the band in some respect on their progression towards some sick form of music. Baxabaxaxaxaxabaxaxaxaxa! 666 Yndstr Draconis is evil, sinister and there is no salvation or hope offered, just torment... and this makes those three tracks so enjoyable. Loaded with an atmosphere depressive black metal bands generally fail to create, due to their reluctance of balancing the facets in a sound way. Woods of Belial have done so on their first two releases and especially the second one shows what level can be reached once the band spend some time in the process of creating music and do not spread their stuff once it has been recorded; maybe even after one take. Even though only half of the compilation is 'convincing', a score can still be justified: both early demos appear on this tape and the second one would be really good. Certainly, it is not appropriate to listen to music of such a kind on a daily basis, but now and then it is a welcome distraction what is generally offered.