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Deathstench > Massed in Black Shadow > Reviews > NausikaDalazBlindaz
Deathstench - Massed in Black Shadow

Intense slowburn of BM ambient industrial noise - 75%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, August 7th, 2017

Can't figure out how my little snout missed sniffing out these guys' cadaverous smell over the years but at long last I found Deathstench's first album "Massed In Black Shadow". Combining noise / power electronics, ambient, industrial, the use of field recordings and raw black metal, this recording is quite a sinister soundtrack to an extended slow-burning horror movie revolving around a theme of death worship, misanthropy and Satanism. For a work of its type, the album is surprisingly steady and gradual in the way it creates and sustains an atmosphere of decay and the utmost evil to almost unbearable levels.

The album gets off to a good start with layers of grit, white noise, cavernous drone and demonic voices but it's only really with the second track "Corpse Upon a Throne of Wyrms" (sic) that the band demonstrates its flair for deep, sustained horror that (no matter how repetitive individual musical elements might become) keeps this listener's attention fixated, as much with horrified anticipation of what more terror might come, as with the mood and atmosphere. The layers of bristling texture beneath the doomy guitar riffs, suggesting plagues of insects crawling over dead bodies left in the open, create an impression of busyness and evil as a cold-blooded yet active predator. It's amazing how Deathstench can keep the music continuously low-key with the gritty textures churning, smouldering or buzzing away, and still keep me hooked. Obviously one way in which the duo maintain attention is by varying the looping riffs and rhythms they rely on, and building up the layers of churning noise by adding actual music elements, even if those are very simple and sometimes amount to no more than drones that ebb back and forth over the rumble. Distant screaming or chanting voices add a ritualistic element to the music.

"Circle of Black Blood" is the first truly black metal track with actual slashing guitar attack, a death-rattle phantom vocal and the dark gloomy cavern atmosphere to match. There may be no percussion but the repetition of the guitar riffs, the deep subterranean rumble and the unrelenting dry vocal provide the structure and turn the track into a steady, growing mass of dark evil. "Shrine of Viscera" is another very withering BM track although its production stifles the song's full potential for dramatic horror and the whole piece sounds as if it's taking place in another dimension that normal human faculties find difficult to comprehend. This could easily have been the album's best track for its power and screechy tones if the production had been clear.

Parts of the album could have been edited for length - the longer tracks especially would have benefited as much of the music in those tracks is repetitive - and the way in which the whole work was produced tends to act against the music's potential to be more powerful than it is, though I do admit the style of production gives the music grit and a malevolent force. The noise textures can be intriguing to follow but there's not a lot new under the sun that other bands of Deathstench's genre haven't done before.