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Xasthur

Defective Epitaph

(Hydra Head; US: 25 Sep 2007; UK: 1 Oct 2007)

Every once in a rare while, having a crappy drummer can—in some unforeseen, extremely odd way—pay off. Venom’s slipshod 1982 masterpiece Black Metal is a good example; drummer Abaddon is woefully incapable of maintaining a consistent groove on “Countess Bathory”, but incongruously, his constant speeding up and slowing down makes it all the more likeable. Venom were buffoons, but we loved them for it. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the new Xasthur disc. Californian multi-instrumentalist Scott “Malefic” Conner has made a name for himself in underground US black metal over the past six years—his dense, ultra-lo-fi recordings cranking the depressive, bleakest elements of the genre to an insane degree—with all his previous work, right up until 2006’s brilliantly twisted opus Subliminal Genocide, making use of drum machine. In an attempt to shake things up a bit, Xasthur’s newest has Malefic handing the drumming himself, and not only is the change instantly noticeable, but it’s nearly disastrous, as his pedestrian beats are often incapable of anchoring the towering, epic compositions that the prolific dude consistently comes up with. The more mid-paced tracks hold up well, the monolithic “Oration of Ruin” especially, but listening to him struggle to keep up with his own arrangements for over an hour quickly becomes tiresome.

Rating:

Adrien Begrand has been writing for PopMatters since 2002, and has been writing his monthly metal column Blood & Thunder since 2005. His writing has also appeared in Metal Edge, Sick Sounds, Metallian, graphic novelist Joel Orff's Strum and Drang: Great Moments in Rock 'n' Roll, Knoxville Voice, The Kerouac Quarterly, JackMagazine.com, StylusMagazine.com, and StaticMultimedia.com. A contributing writer for Decibel, Terrorizer, and Dominion magazines and senior writer for Hellbound, he resides, blogs, and does the Twitter thing in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.


Tagged as: xasthur
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16 Jun 2010
Two lengthy, untitled tracks offer glimpses of the brilliance of Xasthur's Subliminal Genocide, but as a stand alone release Xasthur: 2005 Demo is rather slight.
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