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Noisy and chaotic demented black metal - 75%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, March 8th, 2007

One-man suicidal black metal bands are probably a dime a dozen these days but there are probably few that sound so desolate, deranged and melodramatic in such a strange and unearthly way as this San Francisco act does. Draugar's style is a weird, head-spinning mixture of spaced-out keyboards which seem heavenly and demented all at once, as if the entire angelic host got infected with mass psychosis, combined with noisy blizzard guitar riffing out of which electric and acoustic guitar melodies may arise, fairly ordinary though machine-gun fast percussion and Draugar man Hildolf's horrific death-rattle cries which are probably the most distinctive thing about this recording: the singing is harsh and guttural to the point where you'd probably rather hear fingernails scraping down an old blackboard. I dread to think how many industrial-strength cigars, cigarettes, bongs and fire-crrackers you'd have to smoke each day to get a voice like that. Then there are the keyboards and strings which compete for the status of most out-there / out-of-kilter instrument on this album, to say nothing of the head-cleaning and mind-erasing effect everything will have on the listener.

An early highlight is "Dust Chains Idiots" which like most other tracks is insanely fast and repetitive but features some memorable darkling melodies played on both guitars and synths that establish a deep trancey state while Hildolf wails away in that horrible sickly scarecrow voice. The rhythms change from fast to mid-paced martial though sometimes it's hard to make out the drumming because the bass is very deep, distorted and monstrous in sound; it's easy to think that there is far more happening here than there actually is.

"The Stab of Sunrise" features deep bassy choral voices in the background which often merge with the rest of the music and there are slow instrumental passages with short lead guitar bits. Hildolf does not sing quite so much here. For lightning-fast, almost out-of-control tremolo guitar-picking, you're directed to "Honor is Ash" but if synth-generated tones of a sorrowing celestial choir gone mad from plummeting into the deepest pits of Hell from the vaults of Heaven are to your liking, "Uncontrollable Despair" should be your first stop.

Probably the most memorable riffs are on the mid-paced "Lonely Corners of Existence" which is a less anarchic track than the rest, with synths very sickly and nauseous in tone. The whole album though can leave you feeling unsteady and ready to throw up.

I do have to say that when you first hear this album it can sound monotonous and repetitive and the pace is relentless but if you are interested in noisy and chaotic black metal that sounds like someone in a mental asylum made it, this recording would really suit you. The keyboards are very disorienting and give the music a psychotic edge. The guitars can be really deep and fuzzy especially on "Dust Chains Idiot" where they sound like a thundering downpour of noise in the background. Repeated listenings (if you can stand them!) will reveal more of the record's "charms" over time especially in the very last track which showcases Hildolf's singing in all its deathly glory.

A really pitiless scourging experience sure to wreck your ear-drums with its gravelly texture, this is not for the faint-hearted. The production is muddy which adds to the pain and despair. Pictures on the CD sleeve which include two death masks and a disembowelled cadaver can be pretty horrible - but nowhere near as horrible as the singing, I can assure you! The only weak spot I can find with this album is the drumming which is quite low in the mix and not nearly as aggressive as it should be with this kind of music.

Needs improvement - 70%

Jaxel, August 9th, 2006

Draugar is an american one man "depressive" black metal project/band. And this debut full length, which clocks at around 55 minutes is truly a demonstration of the real potential american black metal bands do have in that sub-genre, which seems to be exploding nowadays.

This album "From Which Hatred Grows" has its ups and downs. Considering the fact that mostly this type of BM is consumed as a whole, and that track by track is sort of useless, i will review it as a whole...

Let me start by saying that the guitar work is a bit over mediocre. Hildolf's experience as a guitarist oozes throughout the album, not only putting some decent and sometimes amazingly memorable riffs, but doing so in the solo department as well, which is something im quite sure is very scarce in this type of BM. Good examples of this can be seen on songs like: "Dust Chain Idiots", "Lonely Corners Of Existance" and "The Slow Spiral". The production well, it is raw black, nothing to spectacular i generally compare it to Xasthur's later works ("The Funeral Of Being", "To Violate The Oblivious"). The vocals sound exactly like Wrest from USBM Leviathan's fame. The bass is almost inaudible except in some brief calm parts. The drumming is pretty decent, as we get sometimes primitive blasting all over the mix, and on some other time more filled patterns of drum rolls and change of tempos. The keyboards are overly used, and that is a double edged sword, mainly because in some parts it seems so forced, as if the guy simply wanted keys everywhere, some songs like the aforementioned "Dust Chain Idiots" contain beautiful keyboard layered parts, but tracks like the opener "Uncontrollable Despair", really messed around the mood of the song.

Another complaint i have about the album is the fact that songs seem to drag on and on and on...and that, well i guess its kind of an acquire taste and that some people will find it utterly entrancing. I do believe that it works well when the riffs are memorable, but in songs like "Honor Is Ash" it bores the fuck out of me, because it comes to a point where it seems that he just went for a 5 minute mark per song, which he manages, but at what cost. And lastly i consider the songwriting structure to be predictable, and that is in my opinion the worst thing about the album. You will notice that after listening to the first 4 tracks you can actually foresee the rest of the album's breaks, calm parts and blastbeats sections. This really brings down the whole experience, but since its a debut, i guess progress will soon follow.

In conclusion i am optimistic that Draugar will kick ass on the next full length, as i am still looking for it, because i know its out. I would simply recommend this album to fans of the subgenre, as i can't see any other casual fan really enjoying this as much as other juggernauts from the scene.

Standout Tracks: Dust Chain Idiots, The Slow Spiral and Lonely Corners Of Existence.