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I Shalt Become > Requiem > Reviews
I Shalt Become - Requiem

Enigma. - 75%

Perplexed_Sjel, September 14th, 2008

A decade has passed since the arrival of I Shalt Become’s infamous ‘Wanderings’, which brought a certain amount of light to the darkness of the underground, one may be wondering what has changed since the early days. Well, not much. Although there have been slight modifications to the sound of the band, particularly in terms of production which is a lot cleaner than on ‘Wanderings‘, the minimalist sound is still running the show. I consider myself a fan of the debut, ‘Wanderings’ but it seems, in the eyes of the public, that ‘Requiem’ doesn’t match the standards that were set a decade prior to it’s release. The disappointing fact is that not much has changed. Over a period of ten years, one would expect a lot of alterations to have occurred, but that isn’t the case with ‘Requiem’. The idea is the same and even the methods of achieving the soundscapes are the same. Whilst I don’t harbour much ill feeling over the fact that this American band has developed much, I do wish that more evolution would have taken place.

Having said that, when one considers the content of this record, particularly in terms of atmosphere, one cannot be too disheartened by the entire affair because there are some moments of glory, however fleeting they may be. In terms of these positives, one must look immediately towards the influence that the guitars have on the atmospheric tendencies that the record displays. Yes, the textures and tones of the distortion used on the guitars is much the same as it was a decade ago, but that draws a feeling of nostalgia from the listener, provided they are familiar with ‘Wanderings’. Personally, it is in the use of the guitars and the synths that one will find the most enjoyment from. As the previous reviewer stated, it is hard to distinguish whether the band uses layered guitars to create the captivating and intoxicating soundscapes, or whether synths do come into play. However the interesting mixture of intoxicating atmospheres are brought on, one can appreciate the influence they possess on the record. Each and every song on the record contains it’s own personal soundscapes, but ultimate draws on the same negative emotions that course through the veins of ‘Requiem’. Sadness, sorrow and sombre reflective thought patterns tend to drive the direction of ‘Requiem’. While there is a distinctive driving mechanism - the guitars - the flow from song to song isn’t terrific. The sparse vocals, which have mutated since the ‘Wanderings’ effort, lack appeal and any substance to drive the cold and distant soundscapes forward. The percussion is often limited in it’s own influence to snare work, which doesn’t stand alongside the overpowering guitars too well.

Whilst, atmospherically, ‘Requiem’ can be pleasing, there is a distinct lack of memorable leads and the other sources of instrumentation can dwell on their own worth to the mixture. For example, just like on ‘Wanderings’, the bass section isn’t utilised the way it deserves to be. Due to the haze that the distortion creates around the songs, acting like fog over the misty hills, the bass doesn’t have enough room to project it’s emotional characteristics, which could have enhanced the level of sadness that flows throughout the record. Songs like ‘Cleansed‘ and ‘The Casket Letters’ provoke nostalgic feelings in the audience as we are reminded of the sounds of yesteryear. I Shalt Become maintain the influence that the dark ambient genre had on ‘Wanderings’ all those years ago. The reference to the early works of Burzum and even Xasthur, if you will, is likely and perhaps justified due to the level of distortion and funerary sound. Whilst songs like ‘The Casket Letters’ do draw out some fine atmospheres, the lack of memorable guitar leads won’t allow ‘Requiem’ to become a future classic, instead it will chain it down and hold it there forevermore. Despite the fact that ‘Requiem’ isn’t the greatest offering of dark ambient influenced black metal, it does make for a decent listen once in a while, especially if you listen for the influence of the layered guitars, with one low riff intent on bringing about the destruction of positive emotions and the sweeping higher pitched guitar, which evokes images of funerals.

Droning Trudging Atmosphere - 70%

PutridWind, September 13th, 2008

I Shalt Become return with a new album roughly a decade after their first effort was released and not counting the Birkenau bootleg that has now been re-released as I Shalt Become. The one man project of S. Holliman continues along the same road as the previous release, which will satisfy most fans of mid paced black metal a la Burzum.

The album continues the tradition of I Shalt Become in that it uses guitars largely as droning layered sound, and employs vocals extremely sparingly. The guitars are very distorted and thickly layered, there are many mid paced arpeggio sections that sound extremely full and even synth like (when without distortion) due to the heavy chorus and reverb on the guitars. The guitars higher register also sounds slightly grating and out of tune, something not so pleasant to hear, and maybe purposefully done as the album itself is not supposed to be easily digested. Guitars dominate the mix, and I can't tell if there is a sparing use of synth or if the synth-like noises and sounds are being coaxed out of the guitars, which would be a rather interesting way of using guitars on a black metal release.

The drumming is distant and generally follows basic rhythmic patterns, placing the snare on 2 and 4 and the bass on 1 and 3, and then occasionally employing half time feels to give a more trudging slow feel to some sections. Vocals are equally as distant, and are extremely spread out, it seems as though each songs lyrics consist of only a few words, and the cds booklet reinforces this idea. Disregarding the low mix vocals, which can be best described as low growls, the album generally reminds of Burzum's Filosofem, with the harsh guitar sound and the mid paced arpeggio lines.

The comparison falls short though because this album lacks the memorable tremolo riffs of the above mentioned album. It uses almost exclusively arpeggiated riffs and a few power chord riffs, but very rarely do any driving melodies appear. The tone is almost doom metal sounding, and no doubt slower sections will remind of the doom genre though the crushing atmosphere is lacking. The atmosphere is definitely there though, rather unique, though the album becomes predictable around the second half of it's playing time.

Compared to what is being churned out of the USBM scene this is a nice change, it fills the gaps of USBM nicely, sounding refreshingly different from Xasthur, Krieg, and Leviathan. Some will undoubtedly be reminded of Xasthur due to the mixing and the riffing, but the album itself is far more masterful and tasteful regarding how it combines all it's elements and doesn't come off quite as cliche as a Xasthur disc might. It also has a haunting sound to it (thanks to the copious amounts of reverb on the guitars no doubt) that makes it stand out among bands like Leviathan that offer a more aggressive sound (even though Leviathan also loves to saturate everything in shitloads of chorus). All in all, worth checking out for fans of Burzum (especially Filosofem) and Xasthur and other bands in this vein.