Sunday, July 14, 2013
It's always fun to make arbitrary guesses on what a collaboration between numerous giants would sound like if they'd ever put out a disc, though the rarity of such collaborations usually kills the inspiration to come with different combinations. What would, for instance, a concoction of Van Drunnen, Chris Reifert, Steve DiGorgio and Bob Rusay of Cannibal Corpse sound like if they ever jammed in a garage? Well, I'd kill to hear a few pieces from that combo, but what we have here is unfortunately (and fortunately) not a collaboration between these four but another quartet coming from the deep, somber woods of Norwegian black metal. Zyklon-B is probably one of the heavy metal projects with the shortest lifespan to date, with their main material centered around this 10 minute mini-disc that reeks of nothing but delirious, haunting and spectral black metal of the rawest sort, straight out of Norway when the genre was at its pinnacle, and what's more is that this isn't merely a handful of songs recorded by a group of angry teens that decided to pay a homage to their co-existing countrymen by putting on a load of corpse paint and by picking up a few battered guitars; what's utterly stimulating about the brief ''Blood Must be Shed'' EP is that it was written, and performed by some of Norway's leading tyrants of profanity: Ihsahn, Samoth, Frost, Draug Aldrahn.
The quartet, or better known collectively as Zyklon-B, are nothing short of frenetic here, with their musical profundity for pure, Scandinavian black metal displayed with stark vigor and fervor, and the sheer straightforwardness of this EP makes it not only one of the most dissolute, uncontaminated specimens the genre has in store for us, to this day. Don't get me wrong, this was actually nothing too special, even for 1995 standards, when all the giants of the scene were releasing their magnum opuses and newer, more emergent acts were just throwing in new sounds and perspectives to the genre's freshly carved out trajectory, and the four titans of this EP were nothing if not opposed to being eccentric, but ''Blood Must Be Shed'' is simply caustic, nullifying fun. There actually few black metal bands at the time that were this to-the-point with their riffing patterns and progressions, because even the bluntest of bands had something fairly different buried withing their music, so this may be one of the few releases that had a major impact of the late coming Canadian extremists Revenge and Conqueror. So bloodied are the guitars are production qualities that Zyklon-B would probably sound like your run-off-the-mill Revenge duplicate if it wasn't for the atmospheric qualities of traditional Norwegian black metal.
That's right, even though ''Blood Must Be Shed'' sounds like a cheap interpretation of war metal, it is in fact not. There's plenty of atmosphere and aura that adheres throughout the barely sufficient 10 minutes that we are presented with, and what I love about this is that most of the atmospheric tenets are enlivened by Ihsahn's unsurpassed dominion of synthesizes. He sounds just as prominent as in Emperor's flawless debut offering, though perhaps with less frequent implementation. Samoth, who roams the guitar riffs, is masterful in conveying the Norwegian sounds, having played in Gorgoroth, Emperor and Satyricon among others, Frost's drumming is also tasty; perhaps nothing out of the ordinary but will vicious, fast, and convincingly sharp, and Aldrahn of Dodheimsgard has a the inflection of a punk-induced madman screaming his lungs out as if he were upfront of Mayhem's ''Deathcrush''. The riffs are, as told, intense, like a virile bombard of razors just as deadly as the rest of the music; which is utterly relentless, unbridled. The depictions of warfare and atomic annihilation are a somewhat novel theme in black metal (at least in 1995), and I did enjoy the small helping of sound tracks, like in ''Mental Orgasm''; a brief nuclear explosion concluding the track and then rushing onto the next, and then to the rampart finale, ''Warfare'', which ends likewise as ''Mental Orgasm''.
The crappy addendum of ''Blood Must Be Shed'', ''Total Warfare'', which stretches the original length of the recording by nearly 6 minutes is utterly repelling, a completely useless remix of ''Warfare'' with additional sound effects and samples that I still find irrelevant. Nevertheless, if you get the original copy and not the 2004 reissue, the you'll succeed in refraining from it. Thanks to this rather random collaboration, we get a taste of what some sparsely scattered Norwegian black metal musicians can conjure if they ever left their bedpost. ''Blood Must Be Shed'' explores nothing, except perhaps the most destructive, ravenous facets of black metal, imbued with the raggedly interesting theme of nuclear warfare, and in its carnivorous fit of rage, listeners are likely to feel just as enraged as the band members while they were recording. In all, even when the entirety of its components are taken into consideration, ''Blood Must Be Shed'' is not willing to be more than an acidic mini black metal album, hardly deviating from the norm, but, if truth be told, I don't think any of the band members were aiming for something with spectacular grandeur. It's absolute belligerent fun that doesn't hide its true colors.