Friday, August 5, 2011

Stutthof - An Ode to Thee Ancient Great Goddess EP (2002)

With a band name culled from a concentration camp, one would not go into Stutthof's legacy expecting rainbows and congeniality, but the stuff of sheer malice and contempt. Curiously enough, then, that is not quite what manifests through the music, and their lyrics and atmosphere create a strange dichotomy with the chosen moniker, as they seem to celebrate the same mythological and occult sources as many of their Hellenic peers. Fast, grimy traditional black metal is the core of the songwriting focus, and yet they're not above the inclusion of synthesizers or soaring, clean vocals to add just a fraction of another dimension to the volatile, predictable momentum of their largely one-track process of composition.

That is not to say that there is much depth here, because amidst the snarling and growling furor, one will find it difficult to distinguish this from much of the other ripping black emissions out of Europe. Early Burzum, Mayhem and Emperor are all reference points, and the cover of the album definitely recalls the Darkthrone aesthetic (with a touch of Transilvanian Hunger in the actual music). The two tracks don't show much affection for the slower bombastic of their Greek peers, and thus Stuffhof approaches their genre from a succinct Scandinavian vector. Of the pair, "And Cosmos from Ashes to Dust" is marginally more striking in the guitar rhythms, though it too becomes rather monotonous after a brief few minutes of indignant wrath. The blasting drums are functional but wearisome, the vocals indistinct from hundreds of other front-fiends, and the atmosphere is largely confined to the six-strings.

Of course, this is one of those limited edition 7" releases, destined more for collective record collector circle jerks than enduring adulation, and there's only about 10 minutes of content. Add to that the fact that the title track will be released the same year on the band's debut full-length, and the other rekindled as the title for the sophomore, so this is not really the place to start in Stutthof's catalog, and ultimately another piece of fiendish flotsam adrift in the swollen flood of newsprint toned European sadism that persists to this very day. The rough and hissing mix of the material is unlikely to turn away devotees of the genre, but the redundancy of content and mediocrity in the writing leave much to be desired, though they were really just warming up.

Verdict: Fail [4/10]

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