Friday, June 25, 2010

Zyklon - World ov Worms (2001)

Why'd they drop the 'B', and when did Marilyn Manson's destitute cousin begin bathing in maggots, anyway? These were my thoughts after purchasing the debut of Zyklon, one of Norway's first super black metal super groups to truly depart on their own, stirring up a wealth of international buzz. With a core of Samoth (Emperor), Trym (Emperor, Enslaved, Tartaros) and Destructhor (1349, Myrkskog), and Daemon Vidar of Limbonic Art on vocals, it was not difficult to envision the sounds that might erupt from this debut: harsh, fast-paced black metal ala Myrkskog or Emperor with Samoth's sweeping and probably some modern or progressive edge to the writing.

World ov Worms in fact all of these things, and more, as it settles nicely between the genres of extreme, melodic black and death metal, putting a cold, industrial sheen on the proceedings that has little to do with pulsing beats of machinery, but everything to do with the destructive, post-apocalyptic aesthetics captured through the relentless sound. There is no real relation to Samoth's former side project Zyklon-B except in name alone, if anything this is a precision mesh of Morbid Angel and Myrkskog, bringing the bear much of the same, cataclysmic payload as the latter's Deathmachine, with a few segues of spoken, male/female vocals courtesy of Trickster G of Ulver and Persephone.

The opening track, wonderfully titled "Hammer Revelation" serves as a connect-the-dots lesson in everything Zyklon will be using to crush your ears. Blasting, warlike drums courtesy of one of the most machine-like human beings in the extreme metal camp, Morbid Angel style guitars that crash into the eerie minor chord streams typical of Norse black metal, mostly black metal vocals, and some solid sweeping patterns, leads and a little more melody than one might have expected. "Deduced to Overkill" is about half as long, blasting chaos with a better mix of the black and death growls. 'The death ritual begins...' is the sample which anoints the bludgeoning flattery of "Chaos Deathcult", one of the better songs on this album, and by this point you are convinced that, similar to Destructhor's other entity Myrkskog, this is not a band all that interested in giving the listener a chance to breathe.

"Storm Detonation" splatters across the scene with a very mechanical, industrial thrash metal feel to it, and this is yet again another one of the album's finest, with a monolithic architecture created through the rampant melodic evils that stretch between the molten fires of creation. "Zycloned" includes a pure, industrial metal breakdown which took me quite by surprise, in fact I found myself wishing they had included more parts like this on the album overall. But with "Terrordrome", the band is back in the fast lane, thankfully with some superior riffing to several of the other tracks, and this is perhaps one of the band's more iconic career songs. "Worm World" is rather forgettable, apart from the "Chapel of Ghouls"-like breakdown in the bridge with some creepy keyboards, and the closer "Transcendental War: Battle Between Gods" is notable for some strong riffing patterns, and Trickster G joining the band with some soaring, guest cleans.

The mix of the album is pretty much perfect to convey its sinister diaries of Armageddon, though I felt like the bass took a backseat much of the time, which strangely does not affect the balance of aggressive speed and impressive guitar work. The use of samples is tasty, and the band is clever enough to sprinkle the compositions with enough colliding, shifting dynamics that one is held in furor throughout much of the 41 minute length, without the ballistic overkill that a record might suffer if it were simply about speed and execution, with no lyrical bent or ability to consume the listener in a conflagration of inspiration. Half of the tracks are excellent: "Storm Detonation", "Chaos Deathcult", "Terrordrome" and "Transcendental War", and the rest are good enough to fill in the blanks.

I imagine there were individuals who felt this band would leave both Emperor and Myrkskog in the dust, but it's really just a fusion of the infernal energies that drove both acts, and one can surmise that it offered just enough 'out of reach' of the members' main bands that it had to occur to curtail some measure of ambition. Considering the popularity of the more unforgiving, technical ends of death or black metal, especially here in the States, this sort of project was surely in demand, so Samoth and crew were positioned to explode.

Verdict: Win [7.75/10]
(still no reason to inhale the dirt)

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