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Techno Black Metal - 65%

Zodijackyl, July 15th, 2009

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.