Wednesday, 23 December 2009

O, Majestic Winter - Defiling the Serpents Temple. 30/100.

I must not be the only person who dreads writing negative reviews. As well as being a lot easier to write positive reviews, given the fact that records one enjoys offers them motivation to do so, I often find it difficult to put into words how truly bad some bands, and some records, can be. Unfortunately, ‘Defiling The Serpent's Temple’ slots uninvitingly into the category of “what the fuck was that?”. For a long time, I had been searching for this record and, for a long time also, I couldn’t find it anywhere, but one day, luck would have it, I found it and was excited to give it a thorough listen. My supposed “luck” was unfounded as this odd record introduced me to why it is people have such a problem with Christian black metal, or “white metal” and the American scene. Though I still think of it as strong, this record does a lot to damage my belief system and my hope in the future of black metal. Of course, I’m being hyperbolic, but this truly is another level of awful. O, Majestic Winter was a band name that appealed to me. I like the connotations of the words “majestic” and the nature inspired side of “winter”, but there is nothing majestic about this record and the production alone should alert everyone to that fact.

The production is like a chronic disease that just won’t go away, always niggling at our weakened immune system, trying to break us down slowly and eventually culminating in our untimely death at a young age. The production shifts from song to song. The introduction even had my hopes up high, but they came crashing down to Earth like a tonne of bricks when ‘The Battle of Frostvale’ opinionatedly spat its Christian teachings at us like some sort of juvenile delinquent rebelling against the usual themes of black metal and trying to convert the Satanic loving musicians to the light side of life and Jesus Christ. Though this doesn’t happen, the record sure does have us using his name in vain an awful lot as the production grates on our nerves and the instrumentation draws out all the qualities we’re not looking for in a black metal record. Though the genre description obviously says this is experimental, sometimes, there is a feeling that musicians go too far in their journey towards a style that has never been heard before. Guys, some things are best left undone, as well as unsaid. Perhaps O, Majestic Winter should have kept that in mind before they decided to unleash this abomination upon the world as it portrays its themes in short, sharp bursts of seeming brilliance and overwhelming mediocrity.

Some parts of this record are well done, don’t get me wrong, but there are too many overriding elements of the record that undo any good work, which is few and far between anyway. Take the awfully entitled, ‘Christ Is Lord, There Is No Other’ for example. The keyboard passages are somewhat pleasing to listen to as they provide synths that leave an underlay of lavish proportions, but then the experimentation, or so they call it, takes a new twist when the derivative guitar work impacts upon the entrancing synths of the keyboard. No one has taught the musicians of this band how to successfully layer music. Some may call this genius, others will strike it down with the cruel hand of God and irony - I, personally, call this a stinking, steaming pile of faeces which deserves no place in anyone else’s home other than the musicians’ themselves. This is, essentially, just another disgraceful bedroom band born of an ironic angst. Though the musicians may appreciate the black metal styling, this is obviously an abomination against the laws of black metal. This dark, generally anti-Christian themed genre doesn’t have a place for God to rest his feet. He must keep moving, like Mary mother of Jesus, and find a different stable in which to bed down for the night.

His presence isn’t unwelcome in the sense that Christianity has no place in metal, it is unwelcome because God has bestowed these terrible musicians, with their atrocious song writing abilities upon us like some gift. ‘Defiling The Serpent’s Temple’ is amongst the worst records I’ve heard since listening to metal and that is no exaggeration. The chaotic mess that is the vocals, the metalcore-vibe from the angst ridden guitars and the awful handling of the production make this a miss no matter what the genre it is this is supposedly playing within. Experimentation is fine if you have the talents to pull it off, but I’m afraid this is about as useful as a car with no wheels to drive on. Despite the appealing band name, and the visually stunning artwork, this is one to avoid at all costs if you value your sense of hearing. Terrible vocals, a lack of direction and a production that screams, “Turn off the Hoover, mum!”. No majesty to be found amongst the decaying realms of white metal.

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