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Spawned an Entire Subgenre - 95%

thejoker, July 8th, 2011

"I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some."
-1 Corinthians 9:22

Treated with more disdain and hatred than even the worst Dimmu Borgir turd or Cradle of Filth set of mallgoth anthems for kids who hate their parents, this, the infamous "Hellig Usvart" by the one-man act Horde is the album that gave birth to the much-maligned subgenre of Christian black metal. Though Vomoth with its single track "Beyond the Gates" does predate Horde (and may or may not have been the same person behind it), it is Horde and its "Hellig Usvart" that is ground zero for Christian black metal.

Back in my days within the secular black metal scene, I had heard of this disc in passing, and took a listen to it - even then, despite the fact that I thought the idea of Christian black metal was a bit comical, I had to admit the sound was pretty killer, and I'm going to go out on a limb here and say it was relatively unique as well. Much is made of this album being a Darkthrone rip-off, yet "Hellig Usvart" has a sound all its own, despite its heavy Darkthrone and Burzum influences. Yes, the hypnotic drumming a la "Hvis Lyset Tar Oss" and early Darkthrone is there, and so is the freezing cold atmosphere created by all the minimalistic chaos. But that could be said for much black metal out there. Sargeist took some major cues from Darkthrone on "Satanic Black Devotion", but no one really complained there. It was a good album despite its obvious influences, and so is this one.

So to the music - as I've said, Horde plays minimalistic, grim to the bone black metal. Raw, primitive, cold, nasty - you name it, it's on here. But what makes it so different is that while it is played in the Darkthrone and Burzum style, it also incorporates death metal elements within the sound that permeate the clashing chaos from time to time. Drumming, while mostly rhythmic and primitive, also becomes quite "flashy" for this style of black metal too, boasting some pretty amazing fills. While tracks like "An Abandoned Grave Bathes Softly in the Moonlight" and "Silence the Blasphemous Chanting" are comprised of cascading waves of white noise and pounding drums, other tracks such as "Invert the Inverted Cross" have an almost death metal-like groove to them.

Overall, the sound is very traditional in terms of production. There is the familiar hissing in the background, the crackling static of the guitars as they blend together in storms of white noise, and Anonymous' vocals shrieking and snarling in the background with tons of echo. But there is also some heavy bass presence to the sound as well, and it somehow sidesteps that thin, half-alive coldness that Darkthrone had on "Under a Funeral Moon" (which, by the way, sounds nothing like this musically). The kick drum can actually be heard on this record, and it really gives the roaring music some extra power.

Anonymous' vocals I find to be extremely adept. On certain tracks, his vocals are high-pitched shrieks and rasps, and on others, he adopts a certain low snarl that completely fits the music.

"Hellig Usvart" boasts a nice variety of song structures too - heavy and more groove-filled tracks like "Thine Hour Hast Come", almost grindcore-like blasts like "Blasphemous Abomination of the Satanic Pentagram", as well as more traditional Burzum-like fare such as "Silence the Blasphemous Chanting, which in my opinion, is the highlight of the album (check out the classical guitar reminiscent of "Dark Medieval Times"-era Satyricon for an example of pure black metal atmosphere). The atmosphere is oppressive and apocalyptic on here, bleak and yet commanding in tone - Jayson Sherlock definitely wanted to make a point on this record, and history has proven that he did. Much of black metal is steeped in Christian imagery and ideals, albeit all inverted and assaulted - is it not natural that the other side of the battle has a say as well?

The whining about this album as being somehow insulting to black metal is a little bit hilarious when one considers that music is obviously not judged by lyrical content but by its sound. Horde has the true black metal sound in spades, just as many other black metal bands, be they satanic, Christian, pagan, whatever, do as well. I say get over it, relax a little, and enjoy this seminal masterpiece for what it is. And if you're a major Christian black metal fan, and don't own this one, stop reading and go order it now.

All in all, it's a classic of Christian black metal, meant to be enjoyed at very high volume.

Spiritual black metal warfare? - 90%

Kalelfromkrypton, March 31st, 2010

I recall I wrote a review for this album some years ago. I probably pissed off the moderators because it was deleted. Of course, when I think about what I wrote back then they were so right. I wrote incoherent things so this is my second chance after reviewing and re-visiting the album more than once since then. Plus, after carefully reading other reviews I think there might be some things we can yet say about this recording, despite the controversy it has raised through the years.

First and foremost, I was into black metal some years ago. I particularly found Inmortal, Emperor, Dimmu Borgir (yeah the second wave of NBM) really interesting, raw, defying and musically different. Nowadays I do not listen to it but I keep some albums that I believe are interesting enough to listen to.

Second: I must absolutely agree with the fact that the album is not original at all. I mean, this was already done by the bands mentioned over and over (Darkthrone, Inmortal, etc) but as far as we listen to it today it was never intended to be original. It was, whether a joke, parody or purposely an attack against the satanic legions of bands showing their hate to Christian-based religions. Being that Jayson was famous enough with the worldwide success of Mortification and considering he is an excellent song writer (Mortification’s best tracks were composed by him) he could create something that could have been truly unique. In its simplicity Horde is regarded as a landmark in the Christian market. We have to consider this album as a plaque for Christian metal heads. It is not for pure black metal listeners since he probably knew he would get mocked and impaled because of his direct attack at their costumes (rituals, beliefs, etc).

Digging even deeper, it was probably just a fun project by him to see what the result could be. Since he definitely is into heavy (read utterly extreme) music he was experimenting with black metal long before Horde came out. Mortification’s heaviest tracks were composed by him and as of today I am convinced that the demo song ‘Beyond the gate’ from Vomoth was performed by him. Not to mention the song from the Godspeed compilation. Thus he was into churning extreme metal music. The result, as a raw and rooted black metal album is not bad at all. As the other fellow reviewers have appointed mainly because the lyrical content this album got worldwide recognition but if it weren’t because of the lyrics you’d not even notice this was Christian.

Third: as far as I have investigated black metal in its roots was not intended to get mainstream recognition but more for personal satisfaction. When I listen to this album that is what I get: pure satisfaction. Of course the satisfaction was for the musicians, not for the listeners but even so in its purest form it was intended to be raw, unpolished, dirty, disharmonic and aesthetic so why bash this one if this is exactly what Horde is all about? I think that it represents (without the lyrical content which does not bother me at all) exactly what the genre was created for. Perhaps the mocking comes from the fact that black metal has evolved so much since the second wave by the addition of polished production, keyboards, symphonic elements, fusion with some other genres that it is hard to listen to this one not measuring it by those high standards nowadays. You have to go back to the very roots of black metal to actually enjoy it.

Maybe one of the facts that created buzz around it is the fact that it became an international hit. Considering that Marcus Staiger from the mighty Nuclear Blast was convinced to put it out and with the strong back up N.B. has for distribution it is not hard to imagine, as well, why this album is stoned too many times. Black Metal was not supposed to become such phenomena. Even harder to swallow is that a low-fi recorded album, black metal rooted and with cutting edge anti-satanic lyrics would become such a commercial success, well, one can be really angry and fired up. Nevertheless, as every single genre evolves black metal is not an exception. The genre has evolved and by 1994 it was already evolving at high speed so for Christians this was indeed a refreshing idea and album released.

Finally, as for the songs certainly some aspects have been appointed. The fact that some riffs sound recycled is very present. ‘Thine Hour hast come’ and ‘Crush the bloodied horns of the goat’ sound remarkably similar. Perhaps only a few chords were changed or are different. Same case happens with ‘Abomination of the satanic pentagram’ and ‘Silence the blasphemous chanting’. Being the buzz guitar sound it is even more difficult to deep examine the difference in the riffs but whatever the case the songs soun alike. The album, much in the same of Pure Holocaust by Inmortal is structured in a way that has rhythm songs (Thine Hour hast come’, ‘Invert the inverted cross’, ‘Drink from the chalice of blood’), really fast songs (‘Behold the rising of the scarlet moon’, ‘Release and clothe the virgin sacrifice’, ‘Silence the blasphemous chanting’), totally utter churning noise (‘Blasphemous Abomination of the satanic pentagram’, ‘The day of total Armageddon holocaust’) so as for me, it is very well distributed since I am not into relentless disordered speed without any logic.

The drums are performed in typical black metal fashion and not technical at all, although Jayson is very skilled and he provides interesting patterns to keep you throughout the album. The rhythm guitars sound fussy, purposely and are not intended to provide any other thing but this cold atmosphere typical to early black metal. It is yet arguably if this can be compared to Darkthrone’s ‘T.H’ but it definitely refers to black metal roots. The songs are very methodical, almost over studied to sound mechanical, but I believe, firmly that this was the intention from the very beginning.

Probably these will not be the last things said about this iconic recording whether we like it or not (I like it very much by the way). It will continue raising controversy and Christian black metal bands will continue to blossom everywhere, more polished, more symphonic, rawer, more imagery focused, etc. But this album started it all and the points I am taking off is for the (indeed!) waste of time of the intro, the some recycled sounds among the songs and the boring ‘Crush the bloodied horns of the goat’ and ‘Weak, feeble, dying antichrist’. Nevertheless, the continual re-issuing of the album is proof that it keeps selling and it is highly regarded for Christian metal head bangers as a milestone in Christian metal whatever genre. As for me, I will keep listening to it because…chills go through my spine every time I listen to it.

Hellig Usvart - 72%

Biedrik, January 1st, 2010

Hellig Usvart is an album with Christian and anti-Satanic lyrics. And that's all I'm going to say about religion in this whole damn review, because it seems that way too many people focus on the fact that Horde is Christian, so I want to avoid that whole damn topic. I might vaguely reference to it, but I'll try my best to actually directly talk about it. Now then, on to the actual review.

So, Horde is an Australian one-man (un)black metal project. It sounds a lot like many of the Norwegian black metal bands of the early nineties. This is honestly the album's biggest weakness. It's simply not very unique. It's just another black metal band, and were it not for the controversy surrounding it, it probably would have been barely noticed. Maybe some people who were curious about finding some Australian black metal would pick up on it, but besides that there'd be little talk about Hellig Usvart.

Now, the album itself starts off with an intro track. Ugh...I get so annoyed when bands do this. The track is called A Church Bell Tolls Amidst the Frozen Nordic Winds, and that's pretty much what it is. A bell tolling while you hear wind blowing. I'm pretty sure sure it's supposed to set the mood, but honestly it just feels like a waste of a minute. Really, most of these intro tracks on albums need to piss off and go somewhere else. Preferably to the deepest pits of hell where they have entire Christmas trees shoved up their assholes to punish them for wasting so much fucking time.

After a minute of pointless whooshing and tolling, the album actually gets going with Blasphemous Abomination of the Satanic Pentagram, and well at first I really didn't like this. It felt like an incoherent mess. But, it only lasts for 47 seconds, and once it was done I went back and decided I actually kind of liked it. It's not a track that you can listen to over and over again, but it does it's thing nicely, and then promptly sods off before it gets too annoying. The rest of the album is a bit more developed than this song. The tracks are longer, more interesting, and more defined. I especially like Thine Hour Hast Come where the bass is used rather effectively to build suspense and atmosphere. Unfortunately this trick is used again in another song, making me think "Wait, didn't I just hear this 15 minutes ago?"

The bass doesn't really get heard much after that (this is black metal after all), but the other instruments are fairly enjoyable. I definitely like the drumming. Anonymous (Jayson Sherlock, whatever. I'll be nice and indulge in that silly name) certainly knows when to use blast beats, unlike some drummers who just use that through a whole song without any variety. He shows some imagination, and changes stuff up a bit. The guitars are well...decent. They're nothing really particularly interest. Yeah, they play some very nice riffs on songs such as Invert The Inverted Cross and Thine Hour Hast Come, but overall they're nothing impressive. I really think Anonymous should have gotten someone to do these for him. He's a drummer, not a guitarist.

As for the vocals. I really don't know what to think of them. They're really all over the place in quality. Sometimes Anonymous just sort of...talks. In a rough voice. It's pretty lame and uninteresting. Other times he actually goes ahead and screams, and that's pretty cool. I enjoy listening to it. Really, it gets annoying with how the quality of the vocals fluctuate. It's like the vocals took a ride on some sort of quality roller coaster, with lots of ups and downs, and a few flat areas where it just stays at one level.

Also, do you remember how I mention that the bass thing from Thine Hour Hast Come felt re-used? This isn't the only time that songs feel recycled. While there's no other examples that are quite as direct, by the end of the album I got the feeling that I'd heard all this before. It just had the same atmosphere, feeling, and quality of songs that happened earlier in the album. Whenever I listen to Hellig Usvart I always end up just losing interest towards the ending. It makes it hard to listen to the whole thing in one sitting. The songs towards the end aren't any better or worse than the ones that come earlier, they just happen to come afterwards, making them seem weaker. If I listen to them seperately I can enjoy them.

Overall, despite some of it's flaws, this is a fun album. It's not great, and it's certainly been given way too much attention due to it's lyrics, but it's still enjoyable. It's unimaginative, has vocals that can't decide whether or not they want to sound good, but it's just nice to listen to, which is why it gets a 72 out of me.

Whoreship. - 27%

Nightgaunt, April 16th, 2009

"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils." (Timothy 4:1)

"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction." (Peter 2:1)

Swift destruction; presumably of a rather gruesome nature. Torn cartilage; rent muscle; pulverized osseous matter; pulped organs; tattered sinew. All but as a pinprick upon a sperm whale's ass in comparison to the true Wrath. Hellfire. Damnation. Eternal torment and suffering. Most importantly, the privation of HIS Love and Warmth. "Son of the morning, Thine hour hast come. Thou will be stripped of power, and lowered into the very DEPTHS of HELL! Thy fate is worse than Death -- Eternal suffering, and DAMNATION!"

Such spiritual carnage. God is Love.

Yes, Horde is (or rather, was) enamoured of the wrath of The One and Only True God (He is! The Bible SAYS SO!), Lorde of Hosts; much like a middle child taking delight in a parent's chastising of an errant elder sibling. In the 1,994th Year of Our (Your) Lord, one man -- Outraged, spiteful, conflicted, and clearly not especially disposed towards turning the other cheek -- gave birth to this little musical curio; a dervish-borne testament to the perverse and self-contrary nature of the human creature. In venting what has always seemed to me to be a veritable deluge of frustration and confusion, Anonymous chose as his channeling medium what would likely have been one of the most "negative" vehicles he was aware of -- the Scandinavian black metal sound of the late 80s and early 90s. It must have seemed appropriate to him, somehow....having decided to go beyond the realm of the loving (and Biblically ordained) "rebuke" into an open declaration of intolerance for and war against that which is not Holy, what better tool to use than one of the true aural manifestations of disgust and ill will?

In realizing the above concept, Hellig Usvart came to sound like nothing so much as a tribute to the most well-known names in northern black metal at the time -- chiefly Immortal; Darkthrone; Mayhem; and a bit of Bathory, though one can also hear what I'd liken to a slight Bestial Summoning (primarily on the 1992 album The Dark War has Begun) flavor on some of the more energetic tracks, such as "Blasphemous Abominations of the Sacred Pentagram." Burzum was around during this period, as well, of course, but doesn't seem to have had much influence on Horde's sound (this was a bit too early for Emperor to have been much of a factor, mind you). Indeed, the single most characteristic aspect of the album's style is how derivative it sounds; this becomes all the more significant when one considers its age. It is almost literally nothing but a recombinance of elements/approaches taken from the aforementioned bands; even in the realm of production quality. It was predictable then; even moreso in the here and now. Now, in the interest of fairness, note the "almost", above. Vocally, this was a bit different, characterized more by truncated, high-pitched wailing, rather than the more gutteral or mid-ranged, rasping quality of utterance favored by the northern vanguard of the time. Additionally, if one is paying attention (and is familiar with the author, I suppose), the bent of some of the riffs and rhythms bely Anonymous' experience in doom and "life" (read: holy attempt at death) metal, as in "An Abandoned Grave Bathes Softly in the Falling Moonlight." On the whole, regardless, what we hear on this offering is basically pure and unadulterated pastiche : Immortal's pacing, Mayhem's single-minded songwriting, and Darkthrone's aural vestments. It is all duplicated with what appears to be great care and attentiveness, similar to, oh, I don't know.....a monk copying a Bible, say? As a result of the method by which it was conceived, its overall effect is rather flat. It sounds the notes, but loses the music. Less than revelatory, despite its obvious reverence. Less than extraordinary, despite its ecstacy. I am personally not one to put a great deal of emphasis on how "original" (or not) a given piece is when evaluating its overall impact; regardless, I know a blatant carbon copy when I see (hear) one. This is nothing but worship....and worship at a very, shall we say, "suspect" altar, given the bent of the one-man-mass' "faith." Taken for what it is, as opposed to what it was intended to be (which is fairly ambiguous), what we have here is a Lamb playing in the dark. Or perhaps I should say, playing at the dark. It is a nonsensical paradox; a misbegotten novelty. Message and means are not aligned, indeed being mutually exclusive. It is no more worthy of attention or respect than a self-professed vegan willfully in the employ of the Armour company would be.

"But Nightgaunt! How can you be so unfair!? Belittling this great album and downplaying its worth just because of its lyrics is silly and illogical!" (Open-Mindedness (TM) 6:12)

My response is that a failure to do so is far more silly, and infinitely more illogical. The notion that manifestation may be cleanly separated from message is ridiculous. Since we are dealing with mutton metal, let us use the Bible as an instructive case. Ask yourself: "What is the Bible?" There are several reasonable answers to the question. It is a book (The Book, if you prefer). It is a collection of anecdotes illustrating a set of principles by which one may ("should"/"must", as it is presented) live. It is a group of pieces (or "books"), said pieces being comprised of sentences/statements, said sentences being comprised of words, said words being comprised of characters (said characters being symbols representing vocal sounds; said sounds representing......), all arranged in a non-arbitrary fashion. To what end? To spread/manifest the Word; to carry and articulate a message. The Saved among you, the Believers, have presumably found that something about the Bible resonates deeply within yourselves; something makes the experience meaningful to you, yes? What, pray tell, is that something? Is it the gross psychomechanical process of seeing a sequence of characters and semiconsciously arranging them into a pattern; assigning basic coherency based on vocabularly and prefabricated grammatical constructs; neurodynamic masturbation? Of course it isn't. It is the message. The ideas that are both manifested by and the motivating force behind the writing. The Word. The Gospels have a basic format/approach (that of the parable) as well as a voice, a tone, a preferred vocabulary, and countless other compositional considerations--in a word, an aesthetic. They clearly have a message (excuse me, Message), as well. These things are not unrelated or irrelevant to each other. The message informs the aesthetic. The One Truth of His Love is a particular kind of message; Christ's way of speaking (words used, order in which propositions are presented, etc.) is determined by what he wished to say, and in turn the flavor of the message is reflected within the aesthetic itself, even as it strives to articulate the message. The two aspects serve and are served by one another; they are interdependent. Such is the nature of these things. Would the Bible -- the manifestation of the Word -- have been the same if the Book were more openly adversarial? If it had been highly apologetic in tone? Would the Book have been the same if the Word were a decree of debauchery for chaos' sake?

Of course not.

Black metal, too, is an inextricably intertwined combination of aesthetic and message. Attempt to artificially excise one from the other, and whatever one ends up with will no longer be true to the spirit of black metal. A certain lack of or incompatibility between modes of Christian perception/worldview is a characteristic of all metal to at least some degree, however small in any given case; and in none moreso than in death and black metal. Addicted Lambs (and religious apologists and the rabidly open-minded) tend to persist in framing the issue in terms of gross categorizations; the theology of Satanism or Luciferianism, as well as the prefix "anti-", as opposed to "un." The distinction is key. The "un" is omnipresent within the relevant realm; "anti-" is a matter of degree. If Christian doom metal is like trying to fit a cylindrical wooden peg with diameter of 10.5 centimeters into a circular hole 10 centimeters in diameter, then this "UnBlack metal" business is like trying to fit a live, incontinent walrus through a star-shaped aperture 5 centimeters in diameter. Simpleminded aural echolalia cannot compensate for the gaping disconnect between the explicit message of the text and the (more central, more enduring, etc.) implicit message of the notes and arrangements....and Horde's work reflects this, even seems half-aware of it at times. Nowhere is this more apparent than in "An Abandoned Grave Bathes Softly In The Falling Moonlight", a song whose musical component is almost 100% opposed to its lyrical content. It is a solidly-composed song (probably my choice for the standout of the album), bleak and subtly melancholy, yet with lyrics concerning what one would think to be a topic of extreme joy and euphoria for True Believers. Not as obvious, but more interesting, is "Crush the Bloodied Horns of the Goat." The song, with its raging tempo and decidedly graphic lyrics ("Tear out the eyes, leaving bloody holes! Total obliteration! Includes decapitation! Ritualistic goat killing! Skinned head used in ceremony!") seems to become so deeply engrossed in the furor of its own pastiche of black metal's compositional and "literary" techniques -- almost fetishistically so -- that it begins to lose itself; the stronger and more deeply-rooted of the two messages beginning to assert itself, perhaps? Let it be a lesson, oh ye Faithful--which will it be? Heaven, or some blastbeats?

"Gasp! But Nightgaunt! Who are YOU to tell people what they can and cannot listen to!? That's so ELITIST!" (Open-Mindedness (TM) 23:3)

I don't think your youth pastor would approve of you using such words. "Speak ye of the Devyl, and he shalt verily appeare", and whatnot. Regardless, I'm clearly not in a position of that kind of authority, nor do I fancy otherwise. I for one don't give a jar of pickled penguin gizzards; truth be told, I've heard metal records that are worse than this one, and some of them were even by less ideologically confused/misbegotten (and less compositionally talented, of course) bands. You want to, as Anonymous puts it, "Lay in pieces in the dust, awaiting fires of Hell" over some tremolo picking and necrotic caterwauling, that's your business, and I'll see you in Hell. In the meantime, just don't kid yourself that Jesus and his old man are "down" with you little Lambs frolicking in the Goats' pasture (Why would you even wish to? It's so much greener on your side, isn't it?); a lyrical rainslicker isn't going to save your soul from the eventual rain of brimstone anymore than an umbrella would save your skin if the Sears Tower fell over on top of you. The epigraph doesn't treat with nonbelievers, you treats with heretics. For the rest of you, take Hellig Usvart for what it is: a poorly-conceived and rather nondescript (if technically competent) performance that its own author came to regret afterwards; an illustrative instance of only half-intentional parody. Indeed, even those select few Who Shall Not Eternally Burn in Ye Hereafter might glean something useful from it:

"For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you." (Corinthians 11:19)

Standouts: An Abandoned Grave Bathes Softly in the Falling Moonlight, Crush the Bloodied Horns of the Goat, Release and Clothe the Virgin Sacrifice (for sheer zany lyrical madcap).

Square Peg + Round Hole = FAIL!! - 35%

caspian, August 20th, 2007

Black Metal has always been a disappointing/frustrating thing to me. There's so many good things about it- the blistering, primal energy, the super heavy riffs and speed of it, and the integrity that comes from playing such an underground, inaccessible style of music (ignoring the more mainstream bands like Dimmu Borgir and Satyricon), not to mention the fact that this genre has a lot of variety, from the melodic, epic strains of Ulver's Bergtatt, to the perplexing music of Blut Aus Nord, to the minimalist primitivism in much of Darkthrone's albums. From a musical viewpoint, Black Metal has a fair bit of win.

So why do I find it disappoint/frustrating? Because it's against what I stand for, simply put. I'm a Church-goer, these guys are/were Church Burners. I'm a Christian, these guys are Satanists, etc etc. People may scoff at this, but I think it's valid. I can't imagine avid republicans listening to Anti-Flag. I can't imagine black people listening to Fullmoon, or Gestapo 666, or other NSBM bands. Listening to songs which spend their time insulting you/your viewpoint/way of life isn't a whole lot of fun. So instead of being able to fully dive into the black metal scene, I just listen to bands that aren't quite as 'offensive' to my tastes, ones that are more 'un-Christian' then 'Anti-Christian'.

..So, it was with some surprise/intrigue that I discovered this album. I'd always presumed that there would be some sort of 'unblack' or 'white' metal floating around, but this one seems relatively well known and a few people seem to actually like it. I ordered this, and while I was somewhat apprehensive, I was still quite eager to hear it.

And needless to say, disappointment resulted. It's not the actual music that disappointed- it's quite cliched but not that bad- and the lyrics aren't all that terrible either, although they are a bit cheesy. The simple fact is that this record is terribly contrived and just totally ill fitting, in every conceivable way.

The best example for this is 'An Abandoned Grave Bathes Softly in the Falling Moonlight'. This song is talking about the rapture (which is terrible theology, by the way). People who believe in the rapture generally think of it as a very joyous moment- after all, you're whisked out of your bodies, you go straight to heaven, and you don't have to endure seven years of tribulation. So it's quite strange that the music behind these lyrics is really depressing and melancholic. You can have black metal that’s triumphant- Drudkh's Sunwheel and Ulver's Wolf and Passion both good examples- but instead, we get triumphant lyrics and super depressing music. It does not work.

There’s plenty of other places were everything is rather awkward. ‘Crush the Bloodied Horns of the Goat’ is a somewhat strange song. As the previous reviewer stated, the song ‘seems to become so deeply engrossed in the furor of its own pastiche of black metal's compositional and "literary" techniques -- almost fetishistically so -- that it begins to lose itself’. A song with lyrics like ‘tear out the eyes/ leaving bloody holes/ total obliteration/ includes decapitation /ritualistic goat killing’ aren’t particularly Christian, indeed, replace the word ‘goat’ with ‘lamb’ and you’ve got a typical black metal song lyric. Another awkward moment is the song ‘Drink from the Chalice of Blood’ which has some really nice lyrics- “come brethren /partake /consume the blood /cast the mind back to that day /
when thunder shook the earth / and the veil was rent /come brother partake /in the sacred remembrance”, but in typical Horde fashion, this nice bit of lyricism is buried under some more kvlt-as-hell black metal.

Still, despite all of these kraazy lyrical shenanigans, the album isn’t all that bad. Sure, the only claim to originality is the lyrics, but most of it’s pretty competent, and not all of the lyrics clash quite as horribly. ‘The day of Total Armageddon Holocaust’ has lyrics that biblically are quite accurate, and they fit the music quite well. Perhaps it’s my general ignorance of black metal as a whole, but I didn’t find the music that bad at all- Thine Hour hast Come is slow and really deadly while Blasphemous Abomination… has a terrible song title, but it’s pretty damn fierce, with plenty of blastbeats and chaos. The production is suitably raw but still quite audible. Basically, the music is super clichéd black metal- a bit of Mayhem and Immortal, perhaps some Bathory, and without paying attention to the lyrics it’s just your everyday black metal album.

But therein lays the problem. Sure, I’ve mentioned that in a few songs the lyrics and music align (or at least they sound a bit less awkward then usual) but the majority definitely don’t, and as a whole the album is terribly ill-fitting. To state the extremely obvious- raw black metal and Christian lyrics don’t work. The main issue I have with this, however, is the extremely contrived nature of this album as a whole. It seems like this: Musician gets annoyed about black metallers constantly bagging his religion (which is valid)- so he then proceeds to write an entire album to get back at them (which is not valid.) This is a simple problem with this band, and with most Christian Music in general- there’s no originality, just an attempt to refute/catch up to the latest innovation in music.

So I’m pretty disappointed with this album. The music isn’t terrible, but the lyrics are terribly ill fitting, and the album as a whole is a very contrived exercise. I would’ve hoped that this record would’ve told people “Hey, UnBlack Metal totally doesn’t work” but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Give it a listen if you’re curious, but otherwise don’t bother. And finally, a heartfelt plea to my Christian brethren- please, don’t write black metal with Christian lyrics. Let’s just concentrate on doom metal, as we seem to do that a lot better.

Horde Review –Unblack History - 90%

Boringmetalhead, August 26th, 2006

Hellig Usvart (Holy Unblack) was released in 1994 and still stands out as one of the greatest Unblack (Christian ”blackmetal”) albums. If you are into extreme Christian metal you must know about this one and you will have to get it. Unlike much other Christian metal, this truly rules in every aspect. It’s truly grim and extreme, not a weak watered down resemblance and substitute of some secular band. Even the vocals stands out. It has been re-released by Rowe Productions a couple of times. I wouldn’t worry about getting the original or support those that try to make big bucks in a shameful manner (apparently this album has been sold on eBay for as much as USD 100!).

Horde plays brutal grim blackmetal in the vein of the fast old school stuff from Bathory’s "The Return..." and "Under The Sign Of The Black Mark”, Darkthrone’s “Under A Funeral Moon”, Immortal’s “Pure Holocaust” and other grim stuff. The main address must be early Bathory standing out to me as a band with unusually offensive satanic lyrics; the back cover says it was “engineered and recorded by Unblack Mark”, Bathory’s back said Black Mark, “Release And Clothe The Virgin Sacrifice” address the Bathory albums much talk about virgin sacrifices and black masses, the inverted Bathory songs about Armageddon are inverted back to their Christian endtimes context and the Satan bashing songs such as “Crush The Bloodied Horns Of The Goat” invert Bathory’s offensive blasphemies directed at God as far as you go without using offensive words. This almost sums up the lyrical themes. Nothing about human emotions and personal struggles as Unblack generally do. One set of lyrics stand out; the poetical “An Abandoned Grave Bathes Softly In The Falling Moonlight” speaking of the bodily resurrection of believers.

The lyrics are very well written. You could wish for other issues of more emotional nature to be addressed and for the theologian there might be things to take an issue with but this is what we got and the emotional issues are covered by Antestor and others. I think it was a great mistake not to make a follow-up. I have heard rumors over the years about how the people behind this did not really believe in the Unblack concept and even worked against the establishment of a Unblack scene. But all I know is rumors. In any case, it has taken way too many years for Christian scene to come up with worthy fellow contesters and this album is still among the greatest Unblack albums, if not the greatest.

Fav. tracks: “Release And Clothe The Virgin Sacrifice”, “Drink From The Chalice Of Blood”, “An Abandoned Grave Bathes Softly In The Falling Moonlight”.

Wouldn't think this was Christian by its sound - 80%

Spawnhorde, May 21st, 2004

Alright, I really think this guy should have released more stuff, but this EP is actually good Christian BM. I know that such a thing is basically unheard of, but trust me, if you didn't have the lyrics or song titles, you would think this was just another crazy Satanic BM band from the early to mid-90s. Some of the riffs are very chunky, some are mechanical sounding, some sound like they were made on Fruity Loops, some rule a lot of ass, etc. The drumming is simplistic and repetitive, and there are some nice rhythm sextions and blastbeats that could take out an army, but overall the drumming is about average. The vocals are chillingly evil sounding, by BM nature, and they're very shrieky and have a lot of that cold raw grim feeling that all tr00 BM fans enjoy. The production is horrendously thin, and it couldn't be better.

The album starts with a short "instrumental" that signifies the beginning of this trip through the mind of a Christian playing real black metal. There is a church bell for a while which leads directly into a very awesome grindy song called "Blasphemous Abomination of the Satanic Pentagram". Now we have to take a short intermission to talk about lyrical content. The lyrics are almost all "anti-Satanic" in that they are against the sigil of Baphomet, virgin sacrifices, and the like. There is not much preaching to be heard here; no goofy "Jesus loves you" passages, so don't worry about that if you're skeptical. As I mentioned before, if you didn't have the lyrics in front of you (i.e., if this site didn't exist), you'd have no idea that this was Christian because the vocals are basically unintelligible shrieks.

I recommend this album, not only because it is an interesting landmark in the genre that is known as Christian metal, but also because it completely owns all of these horrible Christian bands that are out today (namely the generic Chrstianity-based "metalcore" that seethes from out of absolutely nowhere in a constant flow). Oh, and the songwriting, grindy headbanging parts, sick vocals and riffs, etc. make this album a good listen.