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My favourite Xasthur release so far. But still... - 80%

Necroticism89, April 16th, 2008

I bought this on a limb one day because it was cheap and it was Xasthur. I was not disappointed. The key to this release's success for me is that it's an EP. It's only 3 songs (Admittedly, quite long songs) but that's the best bit about it. I enjoyed Subliminal Genocide but it didn't especially make me think it was amazing. Part of the problem was that it was an album's worth of Xasthur. An hour's worth of the same really badly produced, atomospheric riffs, with the same crappy drum machine and the same hoarse, cracked vocals can tire after a while. This is reduced to 20 minutes and only 3 tracks. It's a more appetising chunk.

The songs themselves are great, but not entirely memorable. Of the songs, Bubonic Plague is the most memorable, but the Instrumental and Doomed by Howling Winds ('05) are both amazing songs on their own as well. I loved this far more than Subliminal Genocide and Defective Epitaph. However, they are all still very interchangable. The production remains the same as ever, really fucking terrible, but not without it's charm. The vocals are as hoarse and croaky as ever. The drum machine is still working away, and the guitar riffs remain exactly the same. I can't really distinguish this from any other Xasthur release at all, as I could probably just download 3 random Xasthur songs off Soulseek and it would sound exactly the same.

The Xasthur formula is a fantastic one, but an overused one. Burzum didn't just re-create the same album over and over again, and that's what Xasthur need to do. And quickly. The use of Cello and actual drums on Defective Epitaph was welcomed but we need something better than that. Malefic, you need to evolve and redefine Xasthur now or you're just going to descend into farce. The slew of Spilt EPs and Demos which have been released by Xasthur over the last few years is ridiculous and complicated and for the uneducated listener, it is a complete minefield to try and navigate his back-catalogue.

In conclusion, this release is good. It's great in fact. If I had to, I would recommend this to first-time Xasthur-ers definetely quite simply because it's an easy place to start, with their self-titled EP. However, to be honest, I'd recommend that you go and download a couple of Xasthur songs which have cool sounding titles off Soulseek. They all sound like this EP anyway. And if you had to download a song off this EP, it would be "Bubonic Plague". If a band had 1 or 2 songs, or maybe even an album of this, it would be hailed as a classic. But, when a band has 6 albums, 12 EPs and 4 demos of this stuff. It gets boring. Xasthur have shown no innovation whatsoever since thier inception bar using real drums and adding Piano and Cello to the same songs over and over again. I bet Malefic tosses off these tracks in his sleep.

Malefic should just cut everything loose, re-package all these stupidly obscure EPs onto a series of double-disc compilations, and start afresh with a new, reinvigorated and better Xasthur. But he won't, because as long as people will still buy the same songs repackaged, he'll continue to churn out this crap over and over again. It's quite ironic, and saddening, that a man so vehemently against the big record companies and their shameless flogging of the same old crap over and over again, continues to shamelessly flog the same old crap over and over again.

More of the same... - 65%

Villain, October 8th, 2007

Xasthur has been a polarizing figure in USBM for some time now. It seems that most people either love or hate his work. For the most part, I fall into the latter category. While I enjoy(ed) some of his early recordings, it seemed that everything past "The Funeral of Being" was a simple rehash of previous material and that perhaps the well of fresh ideas had run dry. So 3 years, 3 full-lengths, and a slew of splits later, Malefic presents this eponymous EP.

Does it measure up to the early material? Well, somewhat...considering that nearly half of the time on the EP is taken up by a new recording of an old song from "A Darkened Winter" (Doomed By Howling Winds), which is by far the best of the material presented here. It's all standard Xasthur fare though. The gloomy, multi-layered atmosphere is there. The crappy drum machine is still there. The vocals are still buried beneath the rest of the mix and still drowned in effects.

I was really put off by the fact that Bubonic Plague ends abruptly, as if Malefic forgot to put a new cassette into his 8-track and just said "Fuck it." and sent it to Moribund anyway. There are no lyrics and the artwork is both boring and completely irrelevant to the material, unless I'm missing something. Aside from that there's not anything that I can really complain about. It's not my cup of tea, but I can see how some people could get into this. Even so, I wouldn't call this a mandatory purchase unless you're a completist.

Put simply, if you like the rest of what Malefic has done, you'll probably like this. If you don't, steer clear. For Xasthur fans only.

Try as I might, I can't find a fault.. - 85%

caspian, January 31st, 2007

My only experience I have had of Malefic's work is his rather awesome guest spot in Black One, and it was pretty damn good. Still, I was never really interested in getting his work, but I guess that was because he was described as Suicidal Black Metal, which isn't really something I find super appealing. (What's wrong with being happy? I'd definitely buy an album described as Fairly Cheery Metal. Or Bright Yellow Metal. Would that not be awesome???) But after seeing this at a cd shop in the city, I decided to get it.

It's funny, I don't really enjoy this album a huge amount, but I can't think of anything to complain about. The production is fairly raw, but it's definitely been done deliberately as everything still comes through quite well. I would try to pinpoint some crappy riffs but there aren't anyway. I guess the best complaint I can find is the drum machine, which could've been programmed a bit better, and could have sounded a bit better too. Still, that's the only complaint. Which is a shame.

There are some good songs here though, fo' shizzle. Xasthur delivers his atmosphere extremely well, with everything washed out with bass heavy reverb. It's a very dreary vibe in this album, but it's not kill yourself kind of stuff, for me, this album comes over as a depressing-shoegaze-black metal kind of deal. There's definitely some sombre beauty to be found here, no doubt, with all the clean guitars chiming away throughout Doomed by Howling Winds and the instrumental track (titled: Instrumental) which is pretty damn good in all of it's dreary, mid paced glory. His method is deceptively simple: Get a few semi distorted guitars, fuzz em up, and add tonnes of reverb. It's so easy, but few could do it as well as he does.

Of course, there's also some harshness too. This is a Black Metal record, after all. But even these bits sound more despairing then actually hateful, probably because none of the songs get all that fast. Still, it's fairly harrowing- Malefic has got as excellent screaming voice, and it's mixed perfectly so all of the sorrow and anger smacks you in the face. It's what makes the opening of Doomed by Howling Winds just so devastating.

So, it's an extremely well executed record, we all know that. I guess it all comes down to whether or not you like this kind of stuff. And I would have to say that I don't really like it too much. It's good in very small doses, but ultra depressing music does start wearing on you after a while. If you like listening to music in the dark while cutting yourself and weeping, you'll love it, but if you're a cheery sort of dude (like me) you may want to download this first. Nonetheless, a very well done and pretty good black metal album. Enjoy!