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After hearing countless derogatory remarks towards Zarach 'Baal' Tharagh on the internet and looking at his extensive discography, I decided to give him a listen to see what all the fuss was about. His releases are generally in very limited quantity, but he offers a lot of releases for free downloads, so I picked one and gave it a listen.
The album starts out with a bit of a guitar fade in and the drum machine playing a simple beat with a nice swing to it, reminiscent of Motorhead. The drum machine has a choppy sound, very reminiscent of techno. The drum machine, other than the choppy synthetic sound, is not invasive throughout the album, not providing any fills or anything unexpected, and it stays in 4/4 throughout the album. It does provide an almost groovy swagger with the techno beats, the beats alone could fit into a dance club, but they also fit into the raw black metal of this release.
The vocals fit the music for the most part, they are mostly unintelligible, raw, and harsh. They sound either mildly processed or incredibly distorted from the production, either way they add to the overall sound. There are some awful screams and shrieks that sound like gargling, but they are minor enough that they don't disrupt the music as a whole. The vocals take the lead of the song sometimes, but they mostly stay balanced with the guitar or a bit behind in the mix, and often the drum machine provides some cool noises that take prominence. There is a comfortable balance between the vocals, guitar, and drums being in spotlight, which helps avoid the monotony they could easily fall into.
The guitar riffing is simple but somewhat memorable and a bit catchy. The guitar tone is crunchy and a bit fuzzy, coming through the production as dreary, which adds to the overall aesthetic of the music. The riffing is diverse, but they don't necessarily fit together, at times changes in the music seem directionless or erratic in an unrefined way. "Suck Your Bone" is over seven minutes long, broken up by a slow section in the middle, but it could easily be two or three separate songs. The longer songs don't really drag on, they just lack any sort of continuity between some sections, with sections of songs being the more prominent structure of the album rather than the songs themselves, which seem almost arbitrarily assembled.
The prevalent flaw in the music is that the arrangement and sequencing aspects of the songwriting. There is no flow of a song from beginning to end, nor a flow throughout the album, rather than six songs arranged into an album, there are a few dozen sections of songs played back to back with little consideration to what goes where. The songs and album both lack a coherent structure, which largely demonstrates the lack of a producer or songwriting capability. Despite this, it demonstrates that Luc Mertz can put together drumming, guitar riffs, and vocals in a functional manner, and that he has some good ideas for all of them.
Overall, there is nothing spectacular, but nothing abhorrent. There is enough content on the release that I have listened to it more than once, and it represents the artist in a positive manner. Metal Bastard doesn't sound like a finished product, but as a demo it sounds like it could be revisited and reworked into a pretty good album.
I've heard a lot about Zarach Baal Tharagh. Out of all those people only one said something positive. So, I decided I had to listen it myself in order to form my own opinion about them. After listening to Metal Bastard I'm still a little confused.
Three main points have to be made for Zarach Baal Tharagh's music:
1) The drum machine reminds of a techno beat. Its sound is weak as hell. And that's not good when we talk about a metal band. Hell, even Siva Six , an EBM band that incorporates actual beats, manages to sound heavier than this.
2) Luc Mertz is not an awful player (some mistakes can be heard of course). He is not a bad guitarist and he actually manages to write a variety of good and diverse riffs. The problem in his music lies in the fact that he is a completely talentless songwrite. He does not know how to put the riffs together and fails in every he can in this department. And considering the musical value of some of his riffs (like the last riff of Suck Your Bone and the intro riff of From Beyond) this is a real shame.
3) Luc is not a consistent vocalist. His vocals most of the time fail miserably. They do not provoke any emotion. They do not follow any pattern. However, there are some parts (like the beggining of Deadly Pale Face) where he uses a very high-pitched way of singing. He pretty much delivers when he does that.
Now, what I wrote above cover the main impression I got from Zarach Baal Tharagh.
Analyzing further this demo I have to bring to your attention that in my surprise bass is actually used in this recorded and can be heard in one or two songs. The use of bass in a one-man BM band is not usual at all, let alone a band like Zarach Baal Tharagh which is supposed to have worst production even from LLN bands.
I, also, have to mention that Zarach Baal Tharagh uses keyboards too. They do not use them in a symphonic or an ambient way though. They use them just to create some weird noises and effects.
Productionwise, this album sucks as it was meant to be. The production ruins the drum machine but nothing more. It is far from fitting the album but I've heard worse (like Hydra's Tantalus Reincarnated).
The songs on this album are mid-paced. Surprisingly enough some of the riffs are technica (as in the end of Deadly Pale Face)l and they range from doom riffs, hard rock riffs, some death metal riffs and straight-up tremolo picking. It has some variety but in the end the songs go nowhere.
Overal, this album does not suck. Luc can write some good stuff but he has to work hard on putting his songs together. If he works on that, adopts that high-pitched screaming that is used in Deadly Pale Face and fix the production of the drum machine I am sure he'll eventually write something that is good enough to buy.