Xasthur – Defective Epitaph (2007)

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To those fans who are so to speak more familiar with not only the mainstream but the real black metal it is not necessary to introduce the American band, Xasthur counting a total of one member.  Master Malefic chose a path to put his feet on back in 1995 and he still has not left it. Nothing proves this better than the same atmosphere that was created in the first years still penetrates  Defective Epithap, which is the sixth studio album besides many other demos, splits and EPs. His music is so majestic that each track could be considered as a poem without a doubt. We can also see it as the music accompanying or providing background for any form of death, therefore most tracks are closer to the ambient genre than to black metal.

Personally I believe that with Subliminal Genocide Xasthur reached a point which is very hard to beat. Although he couldn’t reach further than that record but still managed to compose something great again.  The 12-track record was difficult to digest at first and it wasn’t the sweeping speed that caught my ears but the characteristic atmosphere that was created throughout the whole album.

The first song titled Soulles Elegy, which is a relatively fast-paced one, opens the album in medias res. It can be defined as an intro with its clattering drum and piano sessions and with its less than 3-minute length it is also the shortest track on the album.  It is quite a strange piece and I also don’t think it can stand on its own so no wonder it became the opening track. Soulles Elegy also reveals something of the transcendent nature of the album.  The next one is a personal favourite, the sluggish and instrumental Purgatory Spiral. The tight five minutes of Dehumanizing Procession passes by in a similar mood but here Malefic makes his demonic voice heard. The Oration of Ruin evokes the first few seconds of the album as well as the song Warship (the war against) Yourself, the latter of which has a certain haunting sound that invites us to follow it to the total annihiliation. And we most certainly do so. The Memorial to the Waste of Life is a cathartic insanity, if I may say so. Fast and slow paced parts alternate here and this is the first song where the bass is clearly distinctive from the thick and noisy mass. We’ve been listening the album for about an hour now and by this time we are completely got carried away by the deep, depressive feeling and overwhelming loathe of ourselves and the whole mankind. The last song, Unblessed Be brings the same atmosphere as the previous songs. The only difference, though, is that this very song is more tormenting and agonising, as if we were lying in our coffins and listening to the dead march on our own funeral  for very long minutes until only the penetrating silence remains.

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All in all, the album is definitely a masterpiece but it was not meant for everyday listening. The whole look of the CD is in complete accordance with the music. The cover depicts a cemetary with tombstones with the titles of the songs engraved, which also makes up for those incomplete or defective epitaph. It is important to be tuned in to the mood of the album, although you should be daring and determined  to listen to the record again and again. And therefore taking the risk to leave that certain mythical boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead.

Hydra Head Records (HH666-130) 27/09/2007

Tracklist:

1 Soulless Elegy 2:42
2 Purgatory Spiral 4:29
3 Cemetery Of Shattered Masks 6:04
4 Malignant Prophecy 5:41
5 Oration Of Ruin 7:23
6 Legacy Of Human Irrelevance 5:36
7 Dehumanizing Procession 4:52
8 Funerals Drenched In Apathy 5:29
9 Worship (The War Against) Yourself 7:34
10 A Memorial To The Waste Of Life 8:45
11 The Only Blood That Pours Is Yours 8:16
12 Unblessed Be 8:13
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