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Black Legions hero worship gets a bit tiring - 65%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, September 18th, 2016

Together with several other bands, Vetala belongs to a mysterious Portuguese network of underground black metal acts called the Black Circle who, to judge from their photos, hero-worship the French Black Legions of the 1990s. Almost nothing is known about these groups, not even whether they all share members or are just the same two or three guys who change band names depending on their mood or the time of day. Vetala happens to be one of the less prolific bands in the network, which is not really saying much since the band had managed to rack up over 15 releases between 2007 and 2016, most of which happen to be splits with other bands.

Musically Vetala straddles the more straightforward trashy-sounding raw punk black metal that makes up the bulk of "The Lord of Eternity" and the more straitjacket-inclined gabbling-demon derangement that the French Black Legions bands were sometimes partial to. The music's sound is ultra-poor and the drumming comes over as more chaotic and clumsy than it actually is - if the paper-thin sound had less echo, listeners will actually be able to hear proper beats and drum rolls. Guitars are cheap and screechy but occasionally they'll give off a gloriously watery electric tremolo sound. The real joy to be had though is in the demented howling and hollering of demons being boiled alive in vats of sulphur and magma. Respecting no musical concepts like when a song begins and when it ends, those devils rage and scream as though they've just learned (or been reminded yet again) that their punishment lasts for all eternity and they'll never enjoy any respite from the lashings or the tortures they're doomed to suffer.

Everything sounds really primitive at first though on repeated hearings you'll realise some songs come close to experimentation with tone and texture, so fried and battered is their sound. Satan sure uses the finest quality olive oil in his ever-boiling cauldrons. The screaming reaches impossibly high levels in vocal range. The two instrumental tracks definitely sound like experiments in sound, space, melody and white noise manipulation. Though there's not much atmosphere here, what space is allowed is very dark, almost a bit dank. While the music is energetic and the musicians enthusiastically pound their lives away on trashy instruments while trying to out-scream one another, the songs don't change all that much from one track to the next, the demons make no attempt to keep in time, and after a while the album starts becoming monotonous. At just over 41 minutes, the album is really too long for the music as it is and probably could have been broken up into two albums of 20 minutes each.

Those listeners who missed out on the nuttier legacy of the French Black Legions can sample something of what those bands were like here. If you're brave enough to listen to this album for the full 41+ minutes and wonder what an average day in Hell must be like, you're certainly welcome to it.