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Bang your head and slay the lamb! - 90%

chaossphere, February 9th, 2004

For all intents and purposes, the old Norwegian black metal scene of yesterday has degenerated into a cesspool of ill-advised experimentation, incredibly fruity image-driven posturing and gimmicks. Finding a band from Norway that hasn't abandoned their original creative drive in favour of lilting
"atmospheric" synth-crap, psuedo-electronica faggotry or overproduced oblivion would best be described with the old adage of finding a needle in a haystack. Therefore, it's quite refreshing indeed to find a band like Faustcoven, just to prove that not all Norwegians wish they could win
the Eurovision song contest while retaining a raspy vocal approach.

Built on a rock-solid foundation of old-school doom metal and both first-wave and second-wave black metal, Faustcoven has forged these two seemingly incompatible elements into a seething blackened whole. Crushing riffs that wouldn't seem out of place on one of Black Sabbath's 70's classics mingle in a cauldron with the kind of slashing blackthrash that brings to mind a mixture of classic Bathory and Darkthrone.

In other words, three pivotal branches of metal's evilution (spelling intentional, thank you very much) are fused here with ample success. Kicking off with "Under The Pagan Hammer", a self-described deathmarch for the fall of christianity, the songs here will simply embed theselves in your skull and refuse to budge. Then "Annointed In Flames" speeds up slightly, but not into the blastfest you might be expecting. This is pure oldschool, so you won't find any grindcore elements. Just a brain-squashing weight created by sludge, morbid atmosphere and grime.

Moving through the disc, "Black Riders" shows massive improvement from the demo version, "Baptized In Goat Blood" spews blasphemy in the finest Quorthonite fashion, and "Oldschool War" is pure Venom/Motorhead worship -"Obey the priest of Hell's command, bang your head and slay the lamb" indeed.

Then there's the two-part knockout combo of "Castle Of The Tyrant" and "Return To The Castle", the latter of which especially is an insane statement of intent. Following that, the instrumental title track wraps proceedings up on a quieter note, trailing off into the darkness...
and forcing you to hit the Repeat button while scraping your jaw off the ground. Faustcoven is certainly a unique entity among the hordes of derivative bands active today (not that there's anything wrong with being derivative...), with just enough obvious influences to make it familiar enough to enjoy immediately. Anyone disappointed with where the Norwegian black metal scene has been going over the past few years owes it to themselves to check this one out.