ZARACH'BAAL'THARAGH / THE DEAD MUSICIAN  split  LP   (213 Records)   14.98

You've heard it here before a hundred times over: When it comes to black metal, nobody does it like the French. Just flip through the Crucial Blast webstore - you'll find a shitload of my infatuated rambling over the sleek, dissonant avant-garde black metal of bands like Deathspell Omega and the warped industrial weirdness of Blut Aus Nord and Spektr. So many of these French black metal bands have becoming pretty well known outside of their homeland over the past couple of years too, but there's another, lesser known corner of the French black metal underground, a slimy underside that you only find if you turn the rock over, a small cadre of bands rooted in a down and dirty bedroom-grade recording aesthetic, a punky primitive DIY rawness and some truly bizarre self-created mythologies that these weirdos tend to follow straight into a state of dementia. Nuit Noire for instance, the fairy-obsessed werirdos who refer to themselves as "Faerical blasting blackened punk" and sound like a grim, blastbeat ridden version of Rudimentary Peni. And then there is Zarach'Baal'Tharagh, a one-man black metal project who plays some of the most fucked-up, damaged low-fi black metal I've ever heard, who I first discovered on that CD of demo tracks that At war With False Noise put out a while back. This tongue-knotting band has produced a ridiculous number of demo cassettes for more than a decade, obsessively documenting his brand of incredibly noxious, nihilistic black metal slop that goes way beyond brain-damage...if yer into the whole ultra-zonked, fucked up and damaged black metal aesthetic that we champion around here, bands like Tjolgtjar, Furze, Striborg, Alkerdeel, Bone Awl, Ancestors, etc., etc., then you really need to hear this shit. I couldnt wait to get this LP with Zarach'Baal'Tharagh in when 213 Productions told me about it, but that's just half of it - the mighty ZBT shares this slab with another French band called The Dead Musician, who I've never heard of previously and to be honest wasn't expecting much from the goofy band name, but this band turns out to be just as crazed as ZBT, another blast of French whatthefuck blackness that is right at home alongside ZBT's crude blackened mayhem!

The ZBT side opens this up with a single massive track that rolls out for more than 22 minutes, a sprawling psychedelic mess that first takes form as a furious blizzard of sloppy, relentless blastbeats beneath a swirling miasma of fx-drenched hissing, reverb, out of tune riffing, sickly hammered notes, and thick smears of black fuzz. Everything falls apart soon enough, the drums collapsing into a midpaced dirge, dissonant guitar shred flying everywhere, tons of NOISE, those atonal riffs falling apart and coming back together, sometimes forming into skronky punk riffs that sound like Greg Ginn jamming over Abruptum, the drumming veering wildly between a steady throbbing pulse and free-for-all clatter, often just disappearing completely. There are guitar leads everywhere, noodling in and around the doomy splatter and nauseous noisy fug, surrounded by high pitched keening, low-fi murk, retarded stop-start riffing, twisted rhythmic logic, and melting amplifiers. If you think Furze is trippy, get a load of this. Seriously wasted, psychedelic black metal weirdness. This track is titled "Demo 42: The Final Chapter", and first appeared on cassette a couple of years ago. Seriously, Greg Ginn + Abruptum + Quaaludes = total mindfuck.

Like ZBT, The Dead Musician is a French one man band playing extremely low-fi homemade black metal, but instead of an evil demonic figure crouched in a lightless corner of his bedroom crafting bizarre, shapeless black metal epics and occultic psych-noise rituals, The Dead Musician is just a guy named Jeff who plays guitar, uses drum machines and handles all of the vocals to create what he calls "anarcho black punk metal". And this stuff is definitely pretty punk, definitely raw and primitive, and filtered through a twisted song structure logic. The three tracks on his side of the record combine pounding industrial drums and tinny hyperfast blastbeats, discordant guitar shred and doomy riffs, thrashy blackpunk parts and weird fretboard runs that synch up with clusterbomb drum machine blasts. It's kind of like a gnarlier, industrial-tinged Furze maybe, damaged and chaotic, with some killer rocking riffs but totally fucked up atonal solos, Sabbath riffs twisted into angular shapes, and harsh croaking vocals. The last song is a cover of Mayhem's "Freezing Moon", filtered through the cracked prism of The Dead Musician's deranged outsider black metal and splattered with some seriously wonky lead guitar action. Total freakout.

This is limited to 333 copies - the covers all have slightly bent corners, as thats how they arrived here when they were shipped over from France, but the jackets are otherwise fine.