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annoying - 10%

Cheeses_Priced, March 17th, 2005

Antestor play Christian “black metal” (or “unblack” metal”), which is reason enough for most of their probably-intended audience to summarily reject them, possibly while falling out of their chairs laughing. The notion of a group of Christians embracing a musical aesthetic whose entire evolution has been motivated by a hatred for Christianity seems… peculiar… at best. But if I’m going to bother to review this EP at all, I might as well take the music at face value. If the concept of a Christian black metal band is too self-contradictory to hold water, the proof will be in the pudding, so to speak.

So what does the music actually sound like?

Pretty much like a “secular” band. That’s what I was anticipating, but the full reality of it didn’t sink in until I actually listened to the music. The first track, which is the best of the bunch, is mostly straight-up Norwegian black metal, sounding a little like Immortal circa Battles in the North to me. The production is very good – very clean but suitable for this form of music – and the band is technically adept. Session drumming is provided by no less than Hellhammer (hilariously enough), so obviously there’s no problem there. There’s some brief clean singing and some clean guitars, but overall, there’s really no way to overemphasize just how much like ordinary black metal this song sounds. It’s not fantastic or original by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s certainly very… competent. It’s utterly adequate. It's totally acceptable. It will, without a doubt, meet your absolute minimum expectations. I guess if the band's worst crime is aping a form of music they have no real grasp of, they're in the same boat as countless other "real" black metal bands, but nevertheless, this song is far from noteworthy.

The second track takes a severe turn for the worse. I think the best way to give the reader the gist of it would be to simply reproduce the lyrics in their entirety here:

Sometimes I cry in grief
Not for the dead that once surrounded me
Or for the sadness that comes to me
When I am lonely

But I cry
For those who have chosen a life without Christ

There are twelve months
Three hundred and sixty-five days a year
But it takes just one second to answer Him
And recieve eternal peace

Did you actually read all of that garbage or did you just quit out of boredom and disgust and skip ahead to this part of the review? If you can’t even stand to read those lyrics, imagine how horrible it would be to hear them read in a Norwegian accent in the most “melancholy” goth voice the singer can manage over a cheesy backdrop of synths and pianos right off of a new age relaxation tape. I’m convinced that making good music focused around a spoken word part is virtually untenable by definition, given how pretentious it inevitably sounds; doubly so for metal bands, given the fact that most metalheads have verbal skills roughly on par with a gorilla that’s been taught sign language; triply so when the lyrics rather unsubtly urge the listener to accept Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The incredible thing is that this song is actually even worse than I’m capable of describing in print. The band couldn’t possibly have done any worse if they’d deliberately set out to record something as aggravating as possible. Maybe Antestor were trying to give the unbeliever a taste of what Hell would be like, but if anything they went too far. Listening to this song will make an atheist of you: what kind of a God would allow this sort of abomination to exist?

Track three is in a similar vein, but at least there are no lyrics this time around. Skipping ahead, the fifth and final track is again all synth and pianos, this time with spoken word in Norwegian, which at least spares those of us who don’t speak the language the misery of listening to the vocalist mope about his omnipotent imaginary friend. If you haven’t been keeping track, this means that three out of the five tracks on this EP are neither metal nor the slightest bit good by the most creative stretch of the imagination.

Antestor did take the time to write one other metal song for this recording... well, sort of. The fourth song starts off mostly along the lines of the first, and then goes off the deep end into some unwelcome prog self-indulgence which has no apparent point in context. And in case you were worried there wouldn’t be enough maudlin synthesized piano parts on this album, there’s another one at the end of this song. Thank God!

I guess I would recommend this EP to two groups of people: 1) those who thought that the overwrought keyboard instrumentals on Dimmu Borgir’s Stormblåst were utterly brilliant and 2) those poor folks who are attracted to black metal’s extremity but wish the bands would write God-inspired lyrics and communicate (inculcate?) a more uplifting, Christ-based message. Now that I think about it, there’s probably a lot of overlap between those two groups. Well, you kids have fun, and God bless. If you’re not worried about the lyrics of the bands you listen to offending the all-powerful Creator of the universe whose existence must be accepted purely on faith, then you will probably not be interested in hearing this, as the quality varies between completely mediocre at best to embarrassingly stupid at worst.

But you probably could have figured that out for yourself, am I right?