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Blackdeath – Also Sprach Das Chaos

blackdeath – also sprach das chaos

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With their roots as deep as 1995, Blackdeath went through several name changes and an impressive discography to develop into one of Russia’s longest running and most valuable underground acts. Over the years, the band has released their albums through various labels, among them are well-known purveyors such as Drakkar Productions and in recent years Blackdeath had found shelter with the Dutch Heidens Hart label. For this latest offering, the enigmatic trio signed to the revered End All Life Productions.

Since its inception, End All Life Productions has been a leading label working on a constant basis to present acts that push and innovate the boundaries of the Black Metal genre. The label was involved in the earliest steps of bands like Deathspell Omega, Clandestine Blaze, Grand Belial’s Key and Mütiilation. All bands that helped set the genre’s course at the early 00’s. Blackdeath’s role in this is somewhat more modest, but the Russians, with their unorthodox approach to the genre, definitely fit into this list musically, showing some elements of all those acts mentioned above.

That Blackdeath’s influence has remained very marginal may have to do with their origins. Although the country has a host of interesting bands to offer, Russian Black Metal bands, with only a few exceptions, generally remain somewhat isolated. A shame in itself, because there is so much to discover. Whether Blackdeath is necessarily waiting to be ‘discovered’ remains to be seen, by the way; the band continues stoically doing its own thing and seems to care quite little about what people think of them.

That Blackdeath does not shy away from experimentation has long been known; from their earliest albums, the band has had an emphatically different sound from most other bands in the genre. It stays far away from all the Darkthrone, Mayhem and Gorgoroth copies and always treats the listener to a sound and/or musical concept that takes some getting used to. Just listen, for instance, to their second album from 2002 ‘Fucking Fullmoon Foundation’ (ISO666 Releases), that album is quite exemplary of the band’s unorthodox sound. Fast forward to the year 2021, where this ‘Also Sprach Das Chaos’ also still fits seamlessly into the Blackdeath-tradition. The album is divided into two tracks, the first of which lasts just under 15 minutes and the last almost touches the 20-minute mark. While the music is no easy-listening in itself, the band even toughens it up further by presenting it in two such long tracks. However, it is a feast for fans of an unorthodox approach; it is bursting with dynamics, ingenious freewheeling basslines, unprecedented whirlwinds of intricate riffs and leads and even some (subtle) delirious electronics/synths. However, the whole thing is delivered with furious and raw Black Metal riffs and the trademark maniacal vocals of frontman Para Bellum, who uses his voice to enhance the fever-dream-like atmosphere by using a variety of raspy vocals, sacred chanting and spoken word passages in various languages.

Although the concept of the album has not become entirely clear to me, the title seems to hint at Friedrich Nietzsche’s 1885 philosophical novel ‘Aslo Sprach Zarathustra’. In that book, the shepherd and prophet Zarathustra plays the main character and is the first person to realise the difference between good and evil after which he starts to preach the ‘übermensch’. This somewhat complicated and also controversial concept seems to have been transformed by the Russians into its opposite. Parts of the songs’ titles hint at the halting of the earth’s rotation and the subsequent downfall of the world and the maze like madness that follows. For instance, ‘Paralysiertes Äquinoktium’ translates to ‘Paralyzed Equinox’ and ‘Мир рухнул’ to ‘The World Has Collapsed’. The aforementioned fever dream-like musical madness on ‘Also Sprach Das Chaos’ fits seamlessly with the chosen concept and seems to be a perfect soundtrack for the decline of earthly existence.

It should be clear that on ‘Also Sprach Das Chaos’, Blackdeath has once again paid no attention to trends or other (unwritten) genre rules, but continues to follow their own path. That this does not always yield easily listenable music will be of no concern to them. However, it really does pay off to invest some (extra) time to penetrate all the secrets of this latest work by these skilled Russians. Kudos, then, to Blackdeath for delivering another challenging album and perhaps their best work in many years, but also definitely to End All Life Productions who once again take on their (long-standing) role as one of the genre’s trendsetters.

Blackdeath

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