Metal Blade Records, 1999
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/10/1999
It's getting scary, but the more I find myself listening to death metal, the more I'm liking it again. I don't necessarily agree with all of the messages and themes - to say they're slightly miffed at the church is a gross understatement - but I can appreciate the energy and musical precision some of these bands demonstrate - even if I can't understand a single word they're saying.
For anyone who's even remotely interested in getting into this genre, behold - Blackend IV, a two-disc compilation of some of the most intense death metal bands out on the market today. While this isn't going to be the album you ask Grandma to buy you for your Confirmation, this is a well-done collection that will undoubtedly pique your interest in some of these bands.
First, the only complaint I have with the package itself. I had only heard of one of the 21 bands featured on this set - Emperor, whose album IX Equilibrium we reviewed here not terribly long ago. I would have appreciated a little more information on these bands other than what album you could find the featured songs on.
Be warned: the music and messages on Blackend IV are particularly brutal; this isn't the disc to bring to the Church picnic. But if you're a fan of this genre, then numerous treasures await you. From the unrelenting attacks of bands like Witchery ("Witchery," "Awaiting The Exorcist"), Peccatum ("I Breathe Without Access To Air") and Darkwoods My Bethrothed ("Inside The Circle Of Stones") to the surprisingly clear vocals of groups like Primordial ("Autumns Ablaze") and Thorns ("The Discipline Of Earth"), this set covers every possible base you could think of for death metal.
There were many groups on this set that I wouldn't mind hearing more from - groups like Ashes ("Son Of Mourning"), Opeth ("The Amen Corner," "Demon Of The Fall") and Myrkskog ("A Poignant Scenario Of Death," "A Macabre Fanfare For The Devil"). Chances are, if you're into this genre of metal, you'll find one band whose albums you'll want to search out soon.
The one thing to approaching Blackend IV is that you have to have an open mind. Being a Roman Catholic, I'm the kind of person who these groups would most likely be out to offend or attempt to awaken to their point of view. And while I might not agree with what they're saying, I'll support their right to say it - and I can still appreciate their music from an aesthetic point of view. Besides, many groups' singers deliver their vocals in blood-curling screams, so deciphering is pretty much impossible. It's hard to be offended by what you don't understand.
Blackend IV is a nice place to start experimenting with groups in the death metal genre, especially if you're in the market for some new sounds to tempt your ears. If you're easily offended, pass on this one - too bad you won't know what you're missing.