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Genre check needed - 25%

edimmu, September 6th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2013, CD, American Black Metal Records

I decided to check out Ov Dust because many kept saying they were one of the only black metal bands from the Capital District region in upstate New York. The band doesn't seem to exactly claim the label of "black metal," but they do bill themselves as "black/thrash." When I think of a genre bearing this name, I think of bands like Desaster, Destroyer 666, and Aura Noir. "Crushing the American Christ" is nothing like any of these bands, and demonstrates a reason why, for all the problems with the obsessiveness of policing genre boundaries, there is some importance in care in applying these labels. This album is definitely not black metal and it's barely thrash. You could just as appropriately call it grind or death compared with thrash, and the album shares more with contemporary upstate metalcore than blackmetal. I'm talking breakdowns and all, and the growly hardcore vocals to go along. For all it's skating around genre divides and pulling from different styles, the album also fails to sound very novel. A song like "Rise of the Infidel" ends up sounding more like an average metalcore band covering a Tool song than anything that typifies good black metal, thrash or hybids of the two. In the end you get a sort of thrash-groove metal hybrid that reminds of recent output of bands like Exodus.

The recording is extremely clean, to a clinical level, which allows the instrumentation to come across clearly. The guitars, bass, drums and vocals hover separately from one another. While the relative volume of individual tracks in a given song seems appropriate for the style, the mix never really gels into a whole. The lyrics are also the stuff of generic NY metalcore, like "vermin; dregs; extirpate! beat them small as dust before the wind." The refrain of "Rise of the Infidel" -- "sons of liberty: hail, time betides now, incite the rise of the infidel" -- carries the lyrics to this vague political song with a message that is both unclear but also littered with mainstream US political tropes. I end up struggling to decide which is more irritating: the inane lyrics, the metalcore vocals, or the cheesed out guitar solos. These guys are clearly competent musicians and approach the band with a level of professionalism. What they produce is barely listenable, unless you're a fan of metalcore who wants a shred of black metal and thrash peppered around in the mix.

Crusty, Punk-Infused Black Metal - 74%

TheStormIRide, November 14th, 2013

Ov Dust is a crusty American black / thrash metal act from New York. With a full length and EP under their belt, they returned in 2013 with their sophomore release, “Crushing the American Christ”. With this album, Ov Dust seems to be treading the lines between crusty black metal, punk-infused grindcore and a little bit of thrash inspired riffing. If you came to the party expecting the riff-centric style of Aura Noir or the blistering intensity of Absu, then you may be a little disappointed, as “Crushing the American Christ” is a completely different beast altogether.

The album starts with a bevy of news clips and sound samples, expressing Ov Dust’s dissatisfaction with various aspects of US government. After the rather cliché intro, the band fires straight into the title track, which shows you exactly what you’re going to get: punk and grindcore influenced black metal. For the most part, the guitar riffs and drums are fast paced. The guitars are thin and trebly, but it works surprisingly well, given the style. There is a frenetic, maniacal sound to the instrumentation, as the drums consistently blast away and the guitars never completely lose their punk flavor. The few times that the band does slow down, they lose me, like on “Rise of the Infidel”, which showcases a sludgy and doomy vibe and on “Epsilon March” with its slow-paced plodding, as it seems to go nowhere. These slower sections do help you gather some head space after the constant bombardment of fast paced metal, but they sound absurdly out of place and really interrupt the flow. The same goes for the acoustic interlude on “A Lost”, which sounds haphazardly thrown in.

Indeed, when the band is firing on all cylinders, it’s a fun ride. “In Human Altar” shows a fast-paced drum beat alongside a fast paced, trebly thrash riff, with the chorus being especially hammering with its frenetic nods towards grindcore before building into a galloping thrash section. It’s tracks like that, the title track and “(R)evolution of Heresy” that make this album the solid slab of crusty black metal that it is. The vocals borrow heavily from the east coast hardcore scene of the mid-nineties, especially the Pittsburgh scene with its overabundance of metallic hardcore bands (bands like Creation is Crucifixion, etc). Ov Dust’s vocals have more in common with these old hardcore bands than they do with black metal, as it’s a shouted style that’s slightly spastic at times. It fits the bill nicely, but oftentimes I forget I’m listening to a band that lists black metal as one of their primary styles.

This isn’t a bad album by any means. It’s got some headbangable crusty riffing and spastic instrumentation. While the band does get lost during some doomy dirges, the overall product is deserving of your attention if you’re into crusty black metal. With a cleaner production, as the drums sound hollow and the cymbals are a little tinny, the impact could be much more potent. Ov Dust is on to something here and if they keep at it, they could bring further credence to the statement that not all US black metal is garbage. I feel there have been a lot great USBM bands in the past, but there are always naysayers. Regardless, if you like punk-infused black metal with crusty overtones, you should check these guys out.

Written for The Metal Observer: