Tuesday, October 9, 2012
VON : Satanic Blood
Formed in 1987 this San Franciso band should be viewed along side the originators of Black Metal as their style bears more in common with the 2nd wave of black metal than Venom or Bathory. " Satanic Blood" is being called the official release of the album recorded in 1992 before the band broke up. Von has another album which will be their 2nd full length coming out later this month, but since this is the album I got the promo of its what i'm reviewing so there.
This came out the same year as " a blaze in the northern sky" and of course Mayhem had been at this thing for a minute, there are still as with both of those bands traces of death metal, mainly in the vocals which are more gutturally growled than harshly screamed. Heavy on the blasty mcnasty in a time when blasty mcnasty wasn't that common. In my earliest idea of black metal aside from venom, Bathory and merciful fate , I also thought of Impaled Nazerene and Acheron as black metal. Here the sonic element similar to that Darkthrone developed around this time is very present in fact the first four songs lull you into a drone, it wasn't until it slowed down into a doomed intro that I realized I had heard a third of the album.
You can't expect a band like this to be remastering anything thing, so what you hear is what you get and it's a lo fi sound that Varg and the Helvete gang would be proud of and set the standard for the cold grim sound to come. This is beyond raw and is a gaping wound of sound. the cymbals swirl in a manner than sometimes causes you to forget where they begin and the guitars ends. I normally don't like this production style aside from early Darkthrone and even though I love Burzum, i tend to really only listen to the album where it sounds like he is paying attention to what he is doing. the vocals here could have used the most love in the studio as they sound like a dog hacking up a cat. In this case that isn't a bad thing as the dog is rabid so it fits the mood.
The bass hammers on the opening track " Jesus Stain" but loses the attention of my ears a the album, carries on. Of course the separation in the drums is a mute point, the they are pounded like a machine and when the bass churns like a train off the tracks behind them it still gets the point across shitty recording be damned. The second song "devil pig" carries on at a similar speed but the fast paced tremolo picking is a more straightforward blur.
I like the chaos of a song like "release" but it only does one thing, but Von proves they are more than capable songwriters on " Veadtuck" , but the majority of the album relies on a more one dimensional rapid fire approach, the songs begin to take on a very similar feel, I get the feeling I like the one song they keep rewriting and I feel the songs require a closer examination as I feel weird when I think this came out of America in the late eighties.
The bulk of these blitzes are under two minutes. The barking takes on chant like qualities and lyrical content obscured by their delivery based on the facts that Watain holds these guys in such high regard and the church of Satan is based out of San Franciso that these guys might be legit in their attempts to bring the darkness. Though Metallica hails from their so this jump in the fire could be a farce as well, but they seem more earnest in this pursuit. The fact the blink and it's gone element to the songs add to the difficulty of differentiating some of the songs like I know their is a solo I "Vennt" but that doesn't keep "evisc" from sounding like it is an extension of that song. The riff to " Goat Christ" is such a difference it almost fall into this pattern though the vocal variation of gagging bark that sounds like its from Deicide's Amon demos, help to set it apart. " dissection inhuman starts in a similar fashion but melts into a weird ambiance almost like the intro to the song "hell awaits".
"challice of blood" starts of strong with eerie ambiance of a second guitar haunting the chapel in the background and effected vocals which sound like the voices that called to Carol Ann in "Poltergeist" and though this song doesn't stray to much forth thematic tempo it feels different enough to stand on its own. There is a solo of sorts and when I say solo in reference to this band they make Kerry King seem like Marty Freidman. The solos are only for a chaotic texture.
On the song " blood Von " the band shows more dynamics in the jarring punches and the stacatto barked section is a needed shift in delivery to offer a degree of variance. "backskin" fakes it intro like its going somewhere else for a second and en charges full speed ahead like the others. The song " Watain" is similar but lacks the higher solo like guitar that added ambiance to the previous track. It also features a vocal bark that is not as interesting as well. "lamb" does a similar rhythmic dynamic " blood Von" had a little more sonic froma production end with swirling effects accenting it. The title track bring back the motto blast now and ask questions later.
So in scoring this I'll give the album a 6 despite the fact they are a one trick pony the trick blends the albu into one drone of a song with moments where look up from what I'm doing to take notice, the production value of the time didn't due it any favors even it it did set the cvlt standard. I look forward to their new album coming out later this month an reverently plan to keep this in my iPod til it's release.