Like I said in my previous post, cover artwork can sometimes be the main selling point for me to check out an album. That was definitely the case when I first set eyes upon the artwork for Hatred For Mankind.
It's exactly what I love about a lot of metal artwork: stark, grim, black ink depictions of truly repulsive creatures, rituals, landscapes... just generally creepy shit, basically.
This particular occult etching was created by one of my favourite illustrators of recent years, Justin Bartlett, a.k.a VBERKVLT. He's created several album covers, shirts and logos for bands such as Aura Noir, Trap Them and Hot Graves. I won't get too deep into how much I dig his work here since I'd never get around to the actual record review if I did, but if you want to know more then check out his work here [ http://www.vberkvlt.com/ ] and help pay his bills here [ http://shirtsanddestroy.com/justin_bartlett ]
So it was the cover that got my attention, and it was the complete lack of ANY other information about this band that held it. A year or so ago, when I first started looking for somewhere to check this band out, I realised they didn't do interviews, there were no album streams, no promo photos of the band members, nothing.
Far from being frustrated, I love that level of mystery surrounding them. I couldn't find this album anywhere, and had to resort to checking out live performance clips on the internet.
The band perform with their back to the audience, facing their wall of amps, surrounded by skulls, while spewing out the most disgusting, decrepit blackened sludge I'd ever heard. I had to satisfy myself with these low-lighting, ear-raping clips until I could track down an actual release of the album.
News surfaced that it would receive a CD release with Prosthetic Records, one of America's better-known metal labels. CD? Really? No way would that do it justice. I hunted around various distros, sources, spoke to other fans of the band before finding out that there would eventually be a vinyl repress by Mordgrimm.
Mordgimm are an incredibly difficult to track down UK-based label who specialise in mostly Black Metal and Sludge vinyl releases. After finding a contact email for them, I bombarded them with emails regarding this release, enquiring after release dates, pressing info, and eventually, begging them to take my money in exchange for a copy. After receiving no replies to my over-enthusiastic harassment, I'd begun to lose hope of getting a copy, thinking I'd been too slow off the mark to snag one of the VERY limited represses.
Weeks later, news starts filtering through on the DFFD forum that people had begun receiving their records out of the blue. Sure enough, amidst a huge stack of LP-sized packages I begrudgingly received one Saturday from my postman (that guy fucking hates me, seriously, even though my postage payments are probably putting his kids through university), I unfolded the cardboard to find that evil-as-fuck illustration. I felt like a kid on (anti)christmas morning, snatching it out of the barely-opened package, and running upstairs to play the record. I remember my hastily typed 'review' at the time consisting solely of the phrase 'UTTER FUCKING CACOPHONY!!!'.
It's been months since that height-of-summer day. The nights are growing darker, colder, and I find my mood worsening as a result. With this mindset, this black slab of audio misanthropy is more than due another spin.
Side A opens with a short disturbing sample, before possibly the most thunderous drums I've ever heard crash in. I mean, these things are mixed LOUD! Immediately I remember why the word cacophonous sprung to mind first time around. The drums are swiftly followedby a colossal doom riff, with repeats a few times, before morphing into a different mid-tempo riff, closely followed by a short burst of Black Metal-esque fast-as-fuck picking.
I can't believe I've gotten this far without mentioning the vocals. Some people who right about music think it's really clever to spell it vokills sometimes, which always struck me as fucking stupid, but listening to this guy wretching up the acid from the pit of his stomach with the force of his screams suddenly makes me wonder if vokills isn't ENTIRELY inaccurate... fucking hell.
Switching from a guttaral howl to an agonising shriek within seconds, I wonder how the fuck any human being can sound like this. Surely that's a reaction to extreme metal vocals that only your grandmother has when she asks you what you're listening to, and you decide to actually let her hear it. Within seconds she looks at you hesitantly, with concern in her eyes that this is the so-called 'devil music' she should be warning you against.
That's what my reaction is when I hear this record. The entire thing just sounds so fucking corrupt. I love it.
This first track, Boiled Angel - Buried With Leeches, meanders through so many different tempos, alternating between low and high pitched sounds, sinewy riffs twisting the whole time, unable to be pinned down to any persistent rythm or groove, the occasional interjected sample... it is definitely not easy listening. There is no discernable structure, no sense of direction, the harshness just continues relentlessly, interminably.
And if that sounds at all like a criticism, it most definitely isn't. I've heard this album a few times now, and each time I discover new things within the music, a certain pattern, texture or riff that I can't recall from my previous listen. Even now, months after my initial experience with this record, it sounds new, and fresh.
Well, fresh in a putrid, rotting sort of way.
The other songs continue in much the same vein. So many twists and turns and stop-starts that it's nigh on impossible to tell the tracks apart.
However the final strack of this side, To Hieron, opens with a sample so bizarre that it always stands out to me. Whatever movie it's from, I need to somehow find out and track it down, because it sounds insane.
A woman announces "You're an inhumane bunch of fuckin' livin' Bastards and Bitches, and you're gonna get your asses nuked in the end!" then BOOM, straight into another pummelling, this one short, sharp, and anything but sweet. Side A definitely goes out with a bang.
The second side opens with Volcanic Birth, which seems more structured than anything I hear on the first side. For a start I can actually make out a point in the song where the... creature... hoarsely bellows the song title! Discernable vocals! No fucking way.
The riffs employed in this song verge on almost catchy, they are actually played for more than a few bars, and they even sync up with the blastbeats at points. Though if this makes it sound like some sort of traditional song structure, then prepare to be disappointed. This is merely barely-organised chaos.
There is one point towards the end of song where everything locks in to this ominously spiralling riff. This is my favourite part. It actually sounds like what so many heavy bands try and fail to capture: a genuine feeling of dread.
There are only a handful of moments in music that have given me a similar sensation.
The first, and still best, is the opening note on Black Sabbath's first record. Chills, every time.
Sometimes when I listen to records, my overactive imagination develops it's own very extended 'music video' to accompany the music, something to stimulate my mind's eye while my ears are in sensory overload.
Throughout second side B track Lashed To The Grinder And Stoned To Death, my only visual reaction is a constant barrage of those shock-tactic moments in horror movies where some grotesque villain is revealed for the first time, or a face emerges from the darkness, or hands lunge for the figure on screen. The track is eleven minutes long. It feels like it.
The rest of the album continues to inspire unease and discomfort, never settling down, never relenting.
I feel drained after playing through both full sides, and now I know why I haven't listened to this album too regularly in the months I have owned it. It's not background music, you need to sit down, and surrender close to an hour of your life to it.
Hating mankind deserves no less than full devotion.
Getting a hold of a copy of the vinyl for yourself:
You can try and track down Mordgrimm records, if you're not a total idiot and know where to look. For once, I'm not going to make it easy, fuck you, you need to go through the same hell I did to receive this little slice of it.
You can however support these misanthropic cunts by picking up a CD or shirt from their online store [ http://dis.bigcartel.com/ ]