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The Audial Presence of Pure Black Tedium - 10%

Frankingsteins, October 1st, 2007

Disbanded Stockholm band Abruptum played a style of free-form black metal that predated later post-metal trends, and as such clearly has no idea how to go about it. One of the smellier releases to come from the respected Deathlike Silence Productions, owned by murdered Mayhem guitarist Euronymous and responsible for launching such notable black metal acts as Enslaved in the early nineties, Abruptum’s first album caters more towards avant-garde noise enthusiasts than black metal fans, entirely lacking the ambience or artistry that would have taken it to a much higher level, or made it anything other than an insult to the eardrum and cochlea.

Contrary to popular opinion, this fifty minute mess-around, split into two tracks for no reason other than to cater for the vinyl market (because, like, this would sound so much better if you bought the authentic 12”), is actually music, performed by the usual black metal instruments of guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and snarling voice, and grounded in regular rhythms and repeated riffs. It takes several minutes of listening to raise suspicion that something is awry, as the instruments slowly form themselves into something resembling the usual introductory song of an album evoking a dark atmosphere, but it’s more a realisation that the song is simply going nowhere than a reaction against an alienating avant-garde sonic extravaganza in the style of John Zorn. ‘Obscuritatem Advoco Amplectére Me’ is a seemingly improvised lengthy recording that goes absolutely nowhere and, despite its obvious intentions, fails to evoke any kind of atmosphere other than disappointed boredom and restlessness.

There are many bands, inside and outside black metal, that concern themselves with creating dark, mournful or hateful atmospheres at the expense of technical accomplishment, and many albums that succeed tremendously. Abruptum have the excuse of forming a relatively new (though inevitable) niche in the burgeoning black metal market, but I find it hard to imagine anyone being truly engrossed in this pointless, amateurish music, or finding it truly evocative of hell, hate and despair, which was clearly the band’s intention. Burzum’s compositions from the same era were long-winded and repetitive, but truly distressing and terrifying, as well as being damn catchy. Later bands such as Black Funeral released albums entirely composed of evil incantations and endlessly cyclical inhuman noises which I find similarly unpalatable, but at least provide something to go to sleep to (especially keeping fingers crossed for a nightmare). Even the most comparably boring and tedious album-length compositions of bands such as Monolithe succeed in dragging the listener into their depressing world for at least twenty minutes or so before ears start to itch, but I got bored of this far sooner, and loaded up a game of ‘Columns’ while the remaining forty minutes or so plodded on to an unsatisfying conclusion. The only real change is that IT’s vocals become more vomit-sounding towards the end, which is just unpleasant. The moans and yells allegedly record the band members cutting and injuring each other, the f***ing idiots.

IT and Evil (real names Tony Särkkä and Morgan Steinmeyer Håkansson, not that they’d want you to know that) mess around on their instruments with no sense of direction whatsoever, resulting in something weakly experimental when compared to things like Naked City, and too distracting to create or maintain any atmosphere or mental image other than two blokes in face-paint wasting time in a studio. Assuming that over-dubbing was necessary to layer all the instruments, it means they actually listened back to this and played along, at no point thinking, “hang on, this is just complete rubbish isn’t it? What the hell are we doing?” The sound quality is very impressive for such an underground release, making this seem like even more of a waste. Nothing is drowned out in the noise, and it accurately captures the changes of intensity as the drums and guitars speed into a brief fast section before getting bored and slowing down again, knowing they’ve got thirty or so minutes more of this crap before they can get back to playing ‘Super Mario World.’ There is one single piece of studio trickery employed in the form of arbitrary fade-out and fade-in sections that serve no purpose whatsoever, other than perhaps to give the musicians an undeserved break, and although this music is particularly suited to loud volume, the risk of anyone catching you listening to it will probably act as a deterrent. Unless of course, you’re seeking to cultivate a false sense of intrigue from your flatmates, hoping that listening to tedious noise makes you seem interesting.

‘Obscuritatem Advoco Amplectére Me’ was obviously intended as a revolutionary and rebellious album from stupid young Satanists that ends up sounding more like the contractually obligated filler churned out by more famous artists, Vangelis’ worthless ‘Beaubourg’ being foremost on my mind. Evil released a remastered version on his own BloodDawn label in 1999, but you shouldn’t by that either. It is rubbish.