Monday, April 6, 2009

Sermon of Foulness - Sermon Of Foulness Promo 2008

What I would wager to see Sermon of Foulness recording the vocals for their 2008 promotional disc. I can't decide if the shrieks and screams and general throat ripping rawness was recorded in a bathroom or at the zoo. I'm going to go ahead and declare in favor of "zoo" because it would be simply way too difficult to get seven elephants into a bathroom, mic them up and then record them without something going awry. The vocals simply sound way to inhuman to be made by homosapiens. Maybe lone zoo-keeper Tiberius, aside from being more of an old school Command and Conquer fan than I am, knew some friends from the local petting zoo or owners of a circus troupe? A way more reasonable prediction is that Tiberius did record the vocals in his bathroom... or closet... or kitchen cabinet lined with tin foil... and then drenched them with reverb over and over again. While this style of vocals is most easily distinguished in opening track "Three Commands to the Offal," all three of these rather short tracks are layered with these horrifying attempts at vocalizations. During closing track, "Blaspheme the Tetragrammaton," - a track whose title irks me being a fan of those late 1968 and early 1970's singles from the label of the same name - a pop filter or windscreen could have been used to remove some of the "blowing" sounds muffling his vocals.

Oddly, this ungodly oral style fits the d-beat nature of the mostly primitive music. "Three Commands to the Offal" has roughly two riffs. "Choking Phantasm," which, without any lyric sheet, I will sadistically imagine is about having intensively rough sex with Casper the ghost, is also simplistic in its format with two riffs. While not as simple as Von or Hell Rot with their two note riffs, the general blackened style of Sermon of Foulness doesn't seem to match the abrasiveness of the vocals. Closing track, "Blaspheme the Tetragrammaton" breaks the two riff mold incorporating upwards of four(!) riffs. The majority of this song is based around a reoccurring riff of an almost rock and roll vibe... with screaming rhinoceros vocals of course. While the d-beat gives all three tracks a rockin' and rollin' personality, this last track also combines the most atmospheric section leading me to believe that Tiberius has more up his sleeve than simple rhythms and atrocious vocals.

When the guitars aren't caked in projectile vomit animal calls, they carry a melancholy brooding tone as if saddened to be involved in the band. Thick with a fuzzy rawness, the lumbering style of the guitar rhythms fall inline with the d-beat drum work on "Choking Phantasm" and "Three Commands..." while closing track "Blaspheme the Tetragrammaton" manages to distort the guitars even more, leaving them in more fuzz, almost relying on the lively bass playing to carry the song's dance-like main parts. The subtle, raw tone does help the atmospheric section of the song carry and it would work even better if it transitioned better into and out of its preceding and succeeding parts. The moodiness would also work better if Tiberius' drumming was more forceful and less laid back during this momentary jostle with what some would call a more orthodox black metal tradition. If the idea to use a laid back, subterfuged drum style there was purposeful, then it works well. I, however, tend to like the duality of more forceful drumming during moody moments. The speak of what could be communicated as weak drumming sadly applies throughout most of the promo and isn't a prisoner to this one section.

"Choking Phantasm" has the strongest drum presence of the cd and is also the release's most worthwhile track. Its strength is in it's simplicity and emotive instrumentation. The song's opening is also the strongest, most urgent on the three rituals enacted. Vocally, this song has the least imposing, least overwhelmingly retarded vocalizations of the three songs. Across the disc, Tiberius habitually covers up what may be, in his opinion, substandard with his vocals which, in my opinion, are the weakest part of the promo. "Choking Phantasm's" quick fire attack on the senses builds and crests at the end of the song and leaves the listener feeling like they actually heard something that might not have wasted their time. Still, if I could listen to this song three times or Dunkelheit (Burzum) once, I would choose the latter. The song is good compared to the rest of the CD's material but compared to any other black metal classic, it falls helplessly aside, left to wish it was big and strong too.

Sermon of Foulness has, in all probability, unintentionally created a mixture of punkish d-beat fun with simplistic black metal aesthetic and a bit of comedic relief. Sermon of Foulness's promo is like Von meets Missbrukarna meets an African stampede through the halls of the lizard exhibit at your city zoo. While the music is interesting to listen through two or three times, don't feel as if you missed anything unless "humans that sound like elephants humping gorillas" is a genre of music you just can't get enough of. As only a CDr with little artwork of any sort, completists will be happy, however, with the tiny amount of space that this takes up on the shelf. The price to pay, though, is that you'll have to make your own spine label. I used an index card and some tape. It won't protect me from the disc's Jumanji-eqsue rumblings (or Robin William's incredibly hairy body)... ...but at least I'll be able to find the damn thing on my shelf when friends come over and the conversation turns to discussing "absolutely ridiculous vocalists" or "once when I was at the zoo..."

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