If you ate nothing but the guts of ravens, the shells of beetles, and the wax from vinyl, your shit might slide down your pants dense and black as night. Assuming shit doesn't have the connation of something bad, this soulless turd sums up Xasthur's newest full-length, Subliminal Genocide, in how it sounds, the way it makes you feel, and a severe addiction to hear it over and over.
In the vein of newer black metal bands like Leviathan, Xasthur churns out songs that mostly stay at a slow-tempo and are recorded in a way where it can be a chore to single out individual instruments. What it does is create a heavy behemoth of sound that really sounds singular in its expression. The musical theme is a perfect synthesis of darkness and beauty. If this album had major label production it would sound pretty, no doubt. Instead, the sounds seep from the cracks in the floorboards. Xasthur sounds like you're listening in the attic while it's being played in the basement.
This sharp feeling might be a result of the "band" being only one person, Malefic. Since he writes all the music, he knows exactly how to arrange the instrumentation to emulate a feeling of anguished sorrow. While this might sound cheesy, the feelings that Subliminal Genocide while I listen to it are unlike anything else. Malefic's vocals sound like the dying screams of someone whose veins are being clogged with distortion.
A change of tempo within each song helps make the eight and twelve-minute songs continue to make you fill your lungs with the razor sharp plumes of smoke. In "Trauma Will Linger" there's tons of atmosphere created in the middle of the song when the drums cut out and the guitar keeps stabbing the same mesmerizing riffs on repeat until everything comes back in and tears you off your back into a wall of knives. It just so happens that the wall of knives at 7:00 is an upbeat (if that's possible) part that makes you feel like you've been held underwater and finally allowed to breathe.
How does this compare to Xasthur's other albums? It's not particularly better or worse; the differences are subtle. For instance, compared to To Violate the Oblivious, there seems to be less ambient keyboard and more noise. Subliminal Genocide sounds like another Xasthur album. If you're anything like me, this is wonderful news. The songs all create different sub-moods within the overall theme of dense melancholy darkness.
Whether or not you like metal, Subliminal Genocide is an awesome album that will hopefully not be buried under the soil in 2006. As the year is coming to a close, I can see this being a definite sleeper hit. Don't sleep on it...forever????????!
8.9 / 10
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