I’m sure for a lot of untested people metal can sound scary and uninviting. The devil’s work, right? And for the most part, those people are wrong and just don’t understand a genre on which they pass blind judgment. Yet, depending on what they’re hearing emanating from wherever, they’re not always wrong on both it being scary and the work of Satan.
Yesterday I mentioned that we were going to take a two-day look at modern black metal and two bands in particular with wildly different approaches to the craft. Today brings us A.M.S.G., which stands for Ad Majorem Satanae Gloriam, or translated, “for the greater glory of Satan.” So, you know where this bands stands from the start, right? No questions from anyone? Good. Let’s move on. Now, unlike yesterday’s Loss of Self story, we’re going back to the basements and dungeons, to a sound that’s primitive, primordial, and yes, pretty fucking evil. No doubt if the progenitors of the second wave of black metal heard “Anti-Cosmic Tyranny,” the debut from this furious act, they would feel they’re in the presence of brothers. This music is out and out devoted to Satan and spits black vomit at anything remotely Christian or representative of that religion’s (or any other’s, for that matter) God. This is blackness through and through, sounding like it was hand delivered from hell.
Yet, as menacing as this sounds–and this is the type of stuff that, if you heard someone listening to this somewhere, you would try to avoid eye contact with the person out of fear of what’s assaulting your ears and that person’s devotion to the cause–there are hidden layers of creativity that branch just as bit beyond black metal’s rigid borders. You have some WOLD-like static nightmare soundscapes and saxophone passages that might make you think of Ihsahn’s progged-out solo work, so while this is intentionally raw and abrasive, it also has a mind that is free to wander elsewhere if need be. Those elements are what help “Anti-Cosmic Tyranny” rise from black muck into something that’s far more fascinating and baffling, in the best possible way. But even with all that, you just can’t avoid how evil, ill-intentioned, and scorching all of this madness truly is.
A.M.S.G., in case you are not aware, is the brainchild of Angelfukk Witchhammer, who played in other bands in the past such as Ouroboros and Rites of Thy Degringolade, and has gone to prison for several years on a number of charges including weapon possession and drug trafficking, all the further his cause as a Satanic warrior and black metal soldier. In fact, this album was written behind prison walls. It’s not exactly stabbing a guy in the head and leaving him for dead, but crime is crime, he went away, did his time, and now is back to terrorize us anew. His sensibilities and chops are definitely from the old school of black metal, and his creaky vocals can have a Gollum-like effect, but he has something the kids just do not, that being a true calling to his fire, an innate understanding of the music he is making, and a hunger for horrors that isn’t designed to sell colorful shirts but scare the living holy fuck out of you because he means the shit. Remember that when you’re perusing this thing.
These six tracks get off to a sick, deranged start with “Rites of the Black Shadow,” a track that opens with a storm of noise and chaos, vocals that sound like a lost, dead soul screaming to get out, and raw, mangled melodies that crawl beneath the surface. We get some of the aforementioned saxophone, which provides a real head-tilting moment, but one that makes it feel like a message floating through space. “Reincarnation of the Sun” sounds ceremonial at times, as if it’s setting the stage for a grandiose ritual, but the punk-fueled guitar work blasts out, the vocals continue to blister, and an eerie clean section that seems to hint at calm instead leads to an agitated hiss that brings to song to a violent end. “Sacrificial Chants of Cosmic Separation” has weird, bubbling science lab noises lurking, monstrous shrieks, more clean guitar intended to lead you down the wrong path (and possibly leave you disoriented), alien effects, and monstrous howls declaring God an abomination and nothingness.
“Gnosis Granted From the Bloodline of Fire” opens with pastoral-style chants and death bells, something that’s been done before but not this startlingly, and that leads into more punk chaos and strange transmissions that could make your organs turn cold. The sax returns, again letting these thoughts simmer, and the song closes out in a manner that’s damn near jazzy. Imagine that. “Heretics and Ashes” has distorted samples layered into the cacophony, but it’s not long before it blows up in your face, with goblin-like vocals, a fast, clubbing pace, and frightening declarations such as, “Into the fire I must go.” Closer “Blood, Bone and Blackthorn” has a slow, droning opening, making you feel every ounce of its disgust and fury, and its tempo stays at a deliberate, muddy pace through most of the song. But then another bomb blasts rips the side of your face off, the thrashing begins anew, and song crumbles along with you into a pit of tentacled madness, never intending to let you free of its grasp.
A.M.S.G.’s debut was supposed to make you feel the hideous intent of its music, the burning path of its mission, and the pure violence it intends to use to make it so. It’s not good time music. It might not even be bad time music. It’s a declaration of war, if anything, one of the most warped, perverse statements black metal has made in a long time, and no matter how you feel about Angelfukk Witchhammer, his past, and his philosophies, there’s no doubting his will and his razor-sharp intensity, designed to slash his enemies’ throats clean through.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/AMSG-Ad-Majorem-Satanae-Gloriam/110719362296013
To buy the album, go here: http://www.profoundlorerecords.com/products-page/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.profoundlorerecords.com/