Somewhere out there, under the dark digital eaves of the internet, or obscured deep in the porch-lit groves of the rustic countryside, there seems to exist a brotherhood of diabolic fiends whose sole purpose is to out-maneuver and out-fuzz one another in the medium of black metal music. How cryptic, callous, and disaffected can the genre get? We've got bands, or individuals out there who make records so bleak and plebeian that De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, Under the Sign of the Black Mark and A Blaze in the Northern Sky sound like Quincy Jones productions by comparison! Remarkably, though, this setback does not necessarily equate to any automatic dismissal, because such cold and uncaring aesthetics are often crucial components to the artist's emotional, or lack of emotional, discharge.
Enter Dodsferd, and the debut Desecrating the Spirit of Life, a rigid example of when and how this technique doesn't seem to function as intended. Now, I'm not going to sugarcoat, a lot of this project's material is mediocre at best. As one of the more prolific Hellenic black metal acts in the past decade, you'd expect more of their throughput to stick, but that just isn't the case. But clearly there is a procession of tweaks and progressions through the Dodsferd catalog, but you can consider Desecrating the Spirit of Life the very twisted root of that body of work, lying dried and dying beneath the soil and in desperate need of some sustenance, whether through rainfall or the blood of some unfortunate to happen by. What's really to fuck up here? You've got your corpse painted poster boy kneeling between candles, inverted cross in the background and the expected black/white newsprint aesthetic, married to a grimy and fuzzy guitar tone, suicidal and misanthropic lyrics, and a sinister rasping specter.
In other words, all the ingredients for Darkthrone. The problem is, they are assembled into the most basal and pedestrian compositions you've likely heard, with alternating, empty melodic tremolo blasts and slow and drowsy sequences of chords affixed to dingy programmed beats, never once culling the interest of the listener in 53 fucking minutes! Seriously, just by accident you'd figure that 53 minutes of guitar would produce something memorable, somewhere, but from the baleful, brooding "Kruzifixion of Human Disgust", to the noisy feedback-inflected flurry of "Doomed in Eternal Solitude", to the high paced ennui of "Fuck Humanity and Celebrate the Destruction of the Masses" with its obvious and overdrawn chorus, there is never any sense of real darkness or disturbance within the songwriting. It's basically like a couple guys plugged in instruments, turned on a tape recorder and improvised the emulation of their favorite bands, with zero quality assurance.
Song titles, packaging, subject matter, all seemingly cut and paste from various other sources and gathered under a Norse moniker. Now, I'm not trying to initiate some hate on for Wrath and Dodsferd. I like a few of the later albums. Hell, if the songs here were in the least bit compelling, I could forgive all of the derision and derivation, or any other flaw present here. but Desecrating the Spirit of Life is an effortless shadow dweller of an album, mimicking aesthetics that have come and gone, come again and gone again, like a milk truck parked outside the home of your neighborhood's hottest mom. I remember reading somewhere about how this band was all about shucking trends and conventions. But there's nothing 'anti-trend' about this, it's the very definition of trend, desecrating the spirit of one of the most intriguing genres in the musical spectrum. Perhaps that's the point of the thing, but it doesn't make for engrossing music, and it's the worst of this band's full-length recordings.
Verdict: Fail [4.25/10]