Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Gottlos - Infernal Pandemonio (2004)

The thing that immediately drew me to this one-off black metal rarity was the presence of Czech snarler Barbarud Hrom (Maniac Butcher), who offers his vocals above the one man instrumental section of Synn (Skylepthis), a Greek musician who has played in Dodsferd, Darkthule and a number of other acts wedged even deeper into the underground. Sad to say then that this is a rather average stab at the style, with Hrom's painful, decrepit drawl slathered over mundane and unmemorable blast beats and typical, streaming tremolo guitar patterns that become pretty hard to distinguish in short order. The overall production is reminiscent of perhaps Transilvanian Hunger, or Ulver's buzzing masterwork Nattens Madrigal (though not as crude or difficult), monotonous and primal patterns that simply fall short of conjuring up a worthwhile experience.

That said, the intro here really threw me off. It's basically a trip hop beat with these glorious, operatic choir samples that contrast heavily against the streaming, barbaric vulgarity of the ensuing track "Mystis". The riffing varies very little, with only 2-3 sequences throughout, and it does little to inspire confidence for the rest of the record. There's nothing inherently 'wrong' with the writing, only that it aspires to nothing other than swelling the ranks of samey sounding cult black metal we've all heard a hundred times before, but probably with better composition that doesn't sound as if it could be thrown together in a half hour total. "A Nocturnal Monologue". "Kytheria (Astral in the Midnight)". "The Witches of Symposium". The titles reek of haunting, obscure evil, for certain, but the actual delivery is uninspired unless you're 100% dead set on expanding your collection of prosaic extremity. The slower "Wrath of Katachtonium" rocks out in some segments, but predictably so.

Curiously, the last track here is a Maniac Butcher cover... "Mesiasuv konec" from the 1995 Barbarians album (the cover was also included on a tribute to the Czechs). This creates a bit of a paradox...as we have Barbarud Hrom covering his own band. Does that even count as a cover? At any rate, Synn's treatment of the material doesn't supercede the charisma of the original, but the riffs and vocals here are admittedly superior to any of the Gottlos originals, and that makes me pretty sad. The production is appropriately tinny throughout, sure to sate those who like their underdeveloped authenticity in black metal, but the quality of writing just isn't here, and the duo themselves apparently concurred, as they never sought to give us a sequel. So unless you're looking for standard necrotic black metal album #thousandth-something to sit proudly upon your CD rack, I can't say there is much here worth seeking out.

Verdict: Indifference [5.25/10]

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