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Unholy Music Personified - 97%

Son_of_the_Firmament, July 7th, 2005

I think there’s only one word I can use to describe this album, and that word is “unholy.” As you all know, that is a phrase thrown around way to often in the black metal genre, or so it seems at times. Though, if there could only be one band that could be considered “unholy,” it’s Havohej. The production itself is like nothing I’ve ever heard. In theory it’s like any other unrefined, “lo-fi” black metal production, but the guitar tone, and essentially what it does to the rest of the sound is one of the big standouts on the album. I have no idea what Paul Ledney had to do to get this. The only idea I can come up with is that he fucked with the pickups and made them all but inaudible, then destroyed the amp, tuned it down, and put it under heavy distortion. The final product is a guitar that sounds like a flame, and thus puts the guitar lower than either the drums or vocals by a huge amount.
Though that doesn’t come out until the second track, figuring that this starts out with a keyboard only intro. This whole song sounds as though someone put a keyboard on the “Ooh” setting, places one hand as a sort of bass chord, and the other played seemingly random notes in seemingly random order as long as they’re in the same key. While in practice and as a single song this seems almost silly, for lack of a better word. But with what follows this the song does what an intro should, establish the mood and style of the band. The sound, in the end, seems almost heavenly with the high pitched, near angelic oohing sound. But, maybe on accident, it all sounds so mechanical that it becomes eerie. As though this is nothing but a ruse, and becomes evil in a strange, unsettling way. At the same time this tends to bring up the very chaotic nature of the band’s music, through the random but calculated notes being played.
The title track comes and the true nature of the music sets in. The drums are nothing short of ritualistic, with vary few variants and no frills. The vocals are harsh and sound almost possessed. With the guitar, this creates a sort of sound where it becomes almost inconsequential what is being played. The drums and vocals take over, with the guitar as a sort of background. The effect becomes almost perverse in sound. To use a stupid metaphor, the ritual drums and vocals come together in a way which sounds almost like Paul Ledney is attempting to conjure Lucifer himself, with the guitar playing as the fires of hell in the back. At 51 seconds, the drums go away and the guitar playing it’s droning chord. This fades out and gets replaced with someone saying “this is the end of Jesus Christ,” and the song starts over again. After this the song ends with the guitar fading out.
The next song is the Havohej rendition of “Leave Me in Hell,” originally by Venom. This cover is almost unrecognizable from the original version of the song. While the guitar becomes much more prominent in this song as opposed to Man and Jinn, little changes in the sound of the recording itself. The playing is no frills compared to the original, and the general sound becomes much darker than Venom’s version. To use the word again, this song captures an unholy feeling that Venom’s did not (though, I doubt they were trying to anyway). I almost hate to compare Havohej’s version to the original, because in truth, due to tone, production, and playing style, this becomes it’s own song in so many ways. Though, this version is neither better nor worse, for those curious, just very different.
The last song is a cover of Impaled Nazarene’s “Goat Perversion.” I haven’t heard the original version of this song, so I can only talk about this version of this song. As with Man and Jinn, drums and vocals are the only sounds that stand out, with the riff of the guitar becoming nothing but background. The drum work is slightly fancier than either of the previous songs, and thus completely stamps out the guitar at times. Yet this doesn’t seem to impede the song, and only helps to ensure the chaotic nature of this release.
The bad sides to this album also make up it’s good. While I generally wouldn’t endorse an EP with so little original music, the covers come out with a style that makes them not only fitting, but also necessary to this release. Also, I cannot think of many people who would either understand, appreciate, or even tolerate the sound of this recording (guitar tone, level, et al). But for those looking for something that are looking for music that’s chaotic, dark, or even just different, I highly recommend this release.