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Kerasphorus- Cloven Hooves at the Holocaust Dawn - 73%

Addo_of_nex, July 26th, 2010

Upon fully absorbing Cloven Hooves at the Holocaust Dawn, it becomes readily apparent to the listener that Kerasphorus had a lot to say; and their untimely demise is a doubled edged sword working both against and in favor of this EP. It seems as if this project could have been the ultimate outlet for Pete Helmkamp to completely flesh out and set the militant philosophy which fills his published works, The Conqueror Manifesto and Controlled Burn, to music.

Pete worked together with philosophical counterparts Chuck Keller and Mike Miller to conceive some of the most holistically perfect music of all time with Order from Chaos. Following that project's demise, he went on to perform in Angelcorpse and Revenge, both of which possess very particular aesthetic frameworks which work for distinguishing the respective projects they belong to; but also inhibit the possibilities for the purest possible espousal of a vast and intricate set of philosophical ideas. Indeed, it's a shame that the project had such a short lifetime, but such ambiguity makes the listening sessions much more contemplative, as one can only wonder where the band was going to go after the events described in the apocalyptic “Swarm Intelligentsia”.

Distinguishing itself from all other modern bands stricken with bestial tendencies, “The Abyssal Sanhedrin” opens with a mid-paced, ominous war march; a march signaling the onset of a panel of judges about to take on a case against the pathetic modern incarnation of humanity. Sections of relentless percussion are reinforced by the rich and bold strings which weave in and out of dissonant and brooding melodic sections that are accompanied by sparse drum fills, giving a paradoxical agonizing break from the madness. The format of this song is interesting in the perceived intent of a theatrical interpretation for each listener to make his or her own. A vivid scene in which a persecuted inferior being scourged in between sessions of bludgeoning as punishment for decadence is brought to life in the most visceral and agile of fashions. Whether they were aware of their trespasses or not is unimportant, as they're guilty all the same and must be dealt with all the same.

“From genocide to genesis, the flesh is weak...exhort abyss”

While the inaugural track deals with the notion of judgment and the sentencing of punishment, the EP's final statement carries out the action of genocide in hopes of creating a society of capable Overmen within every avenue of existence. Much like the first track, “Swarm Intelligentsia” possesses a structural form made up of components shifting so frequently that defining it in binary terms would require quite an arsenal of letters. This important similarity in form between the two polar tracks reveals a notable characteristic about the two middle tracks.

“Aesoth Paradigm” begins the journey toward answers of the previously unfathomable following the sentencing of mankind. Taking heed of the Order of Nine Angles, the recently prosecuted humanity is offered unto Earth in order to give birth to a new Aeon of iron willed beings. Meanwhile, conceptual overlap occurs between the two middle tracks as the advice of “visita interiora terrae rectificando nvenies occultum lapidem (Visit the Interior Parts of the Earth; by Rectification Thou Shalt Find the Hidden Stone)” chanted repeatedly throughout the second track yields futile results. The elite are finding themselves blind in an abyss of monolithic expectations for the ideal existence they hope sees the light of day. This manic pursuit is musically portrayed by more structurally conventional sections of undying blast beats provided by J. Read, who proves once again what a monster he is behind a drum kit. Naysayers may shudder at such a description; but worry not, jagged and spastic riffing is interjected in between long passages of rhythmic pummeling, breathing life into the unfortunate victim being trampled upon.

As previously mentioned, there seem to exist two “sets” of songs which exist as parts of a larger, more ambiguous whole in this EP's short playing time. The inversion of Christian ideals for alternative use is a motif that runs rampant throughout metal, but few are capable of going the extra step in making this mundane exercise a genuinely significant component of a band's philosophical foundation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak; and we should overcome this weakness not to serve some egalitarian God, but to elevate ourselves above the pitiful excuse of a so-called “advanced” species that humanity currently functions as. Genocide to genesis, in that order. Order will arise from chaos for the last time; and we won't make the same mistakes we did all of those other times. But where to go from there?

Cloven Hooves at the Holocaust Dawn's lack of answers in the grand scheme of things can intrigue, frustrate and mislead. Shrieks emanating from Pete Helmkamp's tortured diaphragm at the end of “Swarm Intelligentsia” coupled with the open-ended nature of the abyssal pursuit of celestial knowledge indicate that Kerasphorus, given an alternate fate that included a full length record, would have completely fleshed out what are already elaborate ideas that become intertwined with corresponding music in hopes that the two might become inseparable and indistinguishable at the end of the day.

With that being said, this is a great work of aggressive black/death metal that stands out as a wolf among an overpopulated flock. Fans of this style will enjoy extensive back-to-back listens and subsequent pondering that's bound to come with opening the booklet and trying to figure out just what's going on.