Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Unholy Archangel - The Demos (2003)

Though they've never been the most heavily active band amidst the Greek underground, Unholy Archangel are by far one of the most crude and menacing outfits in that scene, forming in the mid 90s to create some of the most godawful racket possible. The novelty here is that, despite their primitive compositions redolent of N. American beasts like Conqueror and Blasphemy, they are one of the most thorough when exploring their own country's historic and mythic elements. Strangely enough, I have gotten the impression that they have devolved in an 'inverse' chronological fashion. Little of their material is heavily structured, but their demos and EP sound quite a bit better than their 2010 full-length Obsessed by War, which came after quite a gulf in their career.

As for the demos, both the original Unholy Archangel (1997) and Archgoat Incantation (1998) tapes are collected here with the material they contributed to the 3-Way Spit of Violence (2000) with the French Kult and Canadian Lust, both of which are nearly as grimy as Unholy Archangel themselves. The Demos is 38 minutes and 18 tracks of archaic filth likely to drive just about any audiophile insane, which is probably a compliment in this case. Despite the utter repulsion of their black metal material, they also write up some decent ambient/ritual pieces to dress up the festivities, which creates this enormous contrast in fidelity. However, the band are not bad at experimenting, like they do with the depressing, bluesy guitars that inaugurate "Warfare Mania" or the synth outro "The Majestic Dawn of a New Golden Age". When it comes to the metallic content, though, the Greeks are admittedly sloppy, crashing along with abandon, likely keeping some of their rougher takes of the material.

Every now and then they'll implement a whip-like lead guitar sequence, but most of this is straight forward charging black metal which will hold appeal to only the most masochistic genre listener. The s/t demo uses a drum machine, but the remainder doesn't. Several tracks, "Talos", "Possessed by Hecate" and so forth are woven with a few clinical guitar patterns that hint at something more interesting, but these pan out into only messy chord sequences that seem to lose momentum. I wouldn't say that the musicians lack proficiency, but they do not seem intent on complexity or performing flawless riff passages. As a result, The Demos manages to escape the utter suck-pile on its charisma alone, a mirror into the roots of devoted Hellenic barbarians who seek no more than to revel in their primacy, and a near complete collection of their formative material.

Verdict: Indifference [5.25/10]

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