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Xasthur is one of the modern depressive black metal projects that truly embody the controversality of the style. It's both praised and panned for the very fundamental characteristics that define the style: simple musicianship, extremely lo-fi sound quality, almost trance-inducing monotony, and vocals very unique in either good or very, very bad. However, while depressive black metal quite often seems to put aside all attempts at creating music to please the listener, instead opting to depict very strong negative emotions of the human mind to the point of making the music extremely hard to listen to, Xasthur generally maintains the levels of unlistenability at much lower rates. The music is designed to create atmosphere above all, and in Xasthur's case, it's not riffs or even melodies that work towards this end. Xasthur uses unique soundscapes and overall otherworldy peculiarity to channel atmosphere, and if anything, the atmosphere can be described as interesting. Depressive it rarely is, especially not on Xasthur's 2007 album ”Defective Epitaph”, as said album appears as little other than a forced, desperate effort to release something. If it stands out from the rest of Malefic's, erm, musical achievements, it's due to the album's particularly low level of quality. Whereas albums like ”Funeral Of Being” had some genuinely depressive music, and even despite the all-about-atmosphere attitude of Xasthur's probably most praised album, there are memorable parts. ”Defective Epitaph” is not quite as succesful.
”Defective Epitaph” is difficult to analyse in depth, as it mostly lacks any atmosphere genuinely worth mentioning, and considering what Xasthur is indeed mainly praised of pulling off with success, that is excellent potrayal of depressive and desperate atmosphere, this is quite a defect, if you will. What Malefic has used to get around this musical nothingness is formulaic and imitative songwriting. The melodies that are supposed to convey angst and unease, even terror, are about as scary as a 9 year old kid's halloween costume: corny and cliché, almost as if it was aimed to appear silly. As for atmosphere, that's where this album falls short most remarkably. What made Xasthur's music truly atmospheric was the imaginative and unique sound. Simple and even accessible melodies, at least for those enthusiastic about depressive music, managed to convey strong emotion at least for some time. The sound on this album, however, is perhaps unique, but fails to convey anything but ridicule. Whereas better Xasthur material got old with repeated listening, ”Defective Epitaph” was old before it was even released. Rather than being inspired and genuine, this album sounds very over-exaggerated to the point of sounding like parody of what Malefic has released prior to this abhorrent creation. ”Defective Epitaph” is Xasthur made into a product: it's stripped of all artistic elements, and it's former core is replaced with a hollow replica aimed to demonstrate a more simplistic image of Xasthur and depressive black metal altogether. It's Xasthur light – now without content!
”Soulless Elegy”, the opener, sounds like a dishonest attempt at creating something that Malefic would possibly be expected to create. It's nearly unlistenable because of the excessive dissonance and complete lack of a focal point. Unlike the opener, ”Purgatory Spiral” manages to carry out a theme, and a decent one at that too, only to be followed by the ridiculously theatralic and just plain goofy ”Cemetery Of Shattered Masks”. Whether this six minute piece of nothing is a metaphorical depiction of Malefic's severe depression or merely the fruits of uninspired laziness, it's nothing but a wall of sound devoid of any traces of musical inspiration or artistic brilliance. Sadly, tunes like track #3 are more than an exception on ”Defective Epitaph”. There are other moderately good tracks like ”Funerals Drenched In Apathy”, but most of the material here is unbeliavably pointless. The music is chaotic, and not in a good way: rather than being adventurous, innovative or progressive, it's simply all over the place. Random dissonant guitar noodling with obnoxiously bad guitar tone, drum machine like percussion and melodramatic yet bored screaming. Such drivel does not convey emotions or create atmosphere, especially if good melodies or riffs are nowhere to be found. In other words, two or three tracks and some short sections aside, this entire lenghty album is a complete void of musical quality. Perhaps it can be seen as a work of art, but it's certainly not a good one.
”Defective Epitaph” is beyond goofy or cheesy. It's the result of songwriting without any inspiration, or even perspiration. No effort was put into piling this crystallisation of depressive black metal insipidity together. It's a watered down parody with very little actual musical merit. It does not serve as a black metal album due to being entirely slow paced and without any energy or emotion put into it, and rather than being depressive it merely makes you sad for ever wasting your time listening to it. There is nothing philosophic or profound about it: the only thing it makes the listener think about is whether Malefic even attempted to create music to meet the listeners' expectations. Is this abomination just the result of a thin, weak artistic vision, where music plays a secondary or tertiary role, and where the actual message is lost somewhere between the barren wastelands of bad execution and a sad, lonely desolation of musical nonexistence? If anything, this Xasthur album succeeds at being genuinely misantrophic. It makes fun of all those fans that bought into this piece of retardation, and it mocks the entire concept of music we know it. Malefic's overt selfhatred is also exemplified by the fact that this album is essentially a parody of Xasthur, and boy does it make good fun of Malefic's music. ”Defective Epitaph” is genuinely worthless and a waste of space and time, hopefully to be forgotten. In my book, this effectively serves as an epitaph for Xasthur altogether.