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Keeping the pagan flame burning... - 85%

Jimmy Calhoun, April 22nd, 2016
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Darker than Black Records (Digipak)

From Germany, one of the more fertile countries past and present for black metal, comes the vaguely sketchy duo Massenvernichtung ("Mass Destruction" to you fellow non-German-speakers). Like countless bands of their genre, they combine anti-Christian and misanthropic themes with a distinct nationalist slant, even if MV do it a bit more subtly than some. Of course, being signed to Hendrik Mobus' former label Darker than Black gives them a certain "cachet" for better or worse, but what really matters here is the music, and it delivers the goods in a refreshingly non-formulaic manner. Their mid-paced, tremolo-heavy sound manages to stand out in a crowded field, utilizing a riffing style with no obvious antecedents, dark and chilly somewhat in the way of Demoncy - even if nothing on here is as downtuned and oppressive as 'Joined in Darkness.' The vocal approach is relatively unique as well, alternating a rather deep, grumbling rasp with stentorian chanting which greatly enhances the "pagan" feel of the music.

One unexpected (if sparingly used) component of MV's approach is a touch of humor. At one point they use a portion of the Stonecutters theme from "The Simpsons" as an interlude, demonstrating, perhaps, that they don't take this stuff completely seriously. Then again, all the other between-song breaks seem quite straight-faced in intent, with voices muttering sternly in German (and at one point in Arabic(?)) about something presumably important. Being that I don't understand a word myself, I'm pretty indifferent, although the "black mass" hidden track (That's what it is, right?) is kind of creepy when you're driving on a dark rural highway at night (don't ask). Possible gimmicks aside, "Eine Abrechnung" is an excellent piece of work, easily one of the most overlooked BM albums of 2015. Don't let the label affiliation scare you off, these guys are a legit musical force regardless of their personal views.