CARPATHIAN FOREST  Bloodlust And Perversion  2 x LP   (Nuclear War Now! Productions)   27.99

Back in print, sans the backpatch that came with the previous edition.

Carpathian Forest have long been one of my favorite of all of the Norwegian black metal outfits, a gang of frost-encrusted perverts and provocateurs whose music has often straddled the most barbaric sounds of raw second wave black metal and an demented disposition towards experimentation that would litter their demos and albums with everything from icy kosmische electronic soundscapes to the appearance of crazed darkjazz saxophones to covers of classic early 80s post-punk. From their early, more primitive efforts that were heavily influenced by the sludgy blackened heaviness of Hellhammer and Celtic Frost to their more recent, offbeat black metal hallucinations, the music of Carpathian Forest has been consistently hateful, savage, and adventurous, an instant recipe for adulation here at C-Blast. Several of the band's older titles have recently been reissued on vinyl by their current label Peaceville, which led me to track down both those and a number of assorted other Carpathian Forest releases for inclusion in the C-Blast shop; this is all vicious stuff, a sludgy and hateful black metal assault laced with a unique strain of Nordic weirdness, presented to you for further investigation...

Bloodlust And Perversion is an older collection of the first three Carpathian Forest demos that originally came out as a bootleg CD over a decade ago; this document of the Norwegian black metal crew's earliest recordings has finally been given its first official vinyl release via Nuclear War Now!, presented in a double LP edition.

The first side of the double album features the Forest's seminal 1992 demo Bloodlust And Perversion. Opening with the cinematic death-march of "Though The Black Veil Of The Burgo Pass", the band unfurls horn-like synths across mysterious field recordings and the powerful pounding war-drums, their thoroughly evil atmosphere immediately taking shape. When the title track suddenly kicks in, it's a raw, gnarled blast of mid-tempo filth that bears a striking resemblance to old American hardcore punk, the sludgy riffs crawling over simple, powerful drumming, the vocals a putrid rasp smeared across the primitive blackened stomp. I love the gluey, sludgy tone of this early Carpathian Forest stuff, it's got a dank, dungeon-spawned sludgepunk vibe that really doesn't sound like any of the other

Norwegian black metal bands from this era. The rest of these tracks all have that sludgy, deformed grooviness, "Return Of The Freezing Winds" and "The Woods Of Wallachia " almost resembling something from Upsidedown Cross with their weird wailing feedback and sub-Sabbathian splooge. But when the band closes the tape, it's with the haunting funereal folk of "Wings Over The Mountain Of Sighisoara", their delicate acoustic strum shimmering over ghostly choral synths and strange woodland noises.

Next is Carpathian Forest's 1993 demo Journey Through the Cold Moors of Svartjern; this was a more experimental release that featured three lengthy songs in a similar slow, sludgy vein as their debut demo, but infused with an even heavier synth presce4nce and more frenzied, frantic vocals. This stuff is raw and grimy, but the added murkiness only adds to the desolate, dreamy feel of the material, keyboards drifting slowly through the background, layers of horn-like texture and filthy electronic rumble and strange dissonant kosmische melodies melting into the mix. They also blend more of those acoustic guitars and distorted riffs over the death-march drums of the title track, which gives the song a strange industrial feel, equal parts sludgy black metal dirge and horror movie soundtrack creep and Swans-esque pummel; it's still one of my favorite Carpathian Forest tracks. The rest of this promo tape includes the unusual "The Eclipse / The Raven", which features spooky whispered vocals and pipe organs over shimmering electric guitar and more of that folky strum, the melody almost like something from a Riz Ortolani score, followed by more of that eerie kosmische soundtrack-style drift on "The Last Sigh Of Nostalgia", the funereal electronics, plaintive piano keys and ominous guitars winding around the echoing snarled vocals as they slowly transform into a breathtaking graveyard lament. Listening to some of this stuff, you gotta wonder how much Popul Vuh these guys might have been listening to back when they recorded this tape.

The 1992 Studio Rehearsals are the murkiest and most low-fi of all of the recordings included in this set, but this stuff still rips with a raw hardcore-style urgency. There's a rendition of "Return Of The Freezing Winds" off of the first demo and a new version of "Carpathian Forest", as well as a cover of Bathory's "Call From The Grave", all of 'em draped in black sludge and brain-damaged guitar solos and tape hiss, a pounding mid-tempo assault of Frostian heaviness and screeching frostbitten horror. The last side only has two tracks, one untitled, the other a cover of the Venom classic "Warhead"; the former is another one of Carpathian Forest's signature sludgy dirges, more of that wicked deformed tarpit punk ugliness, while the Venom cover is a somewhat bizarre take on the thrash classic, all super washed out and murked and weirdly languid, the vocals a smear of reptilian hiss.