Neftaraka's "Raw Ist Law" is... well, raw. I'm guessing that being raw is a... law... in this Akitsa styled noise worshiping black metal band. What I found energizing about "Raw Ist Law" were the subtle nuances and textures in the black and the melody contained in the metal. Six tracks, three and a half noisy explorations and two and a half unpolished raw black metal songs to set your mind wandering and stop you dead in your tracks, lost in Neftaraka's dark corridors. Neftaraka's been around for a long time, over ten years now, and if their back catalog contains songs as strong as these, I'll be taking some long adventures across the internet to find their other releases. The grimy unpolished surface of Neftaraka's art is perfectly suited for the cassette format. I've seen this release available as a CDr but think the sterility of the disc medium would hinder my enjoyment of listening to this on the true kvlt medium that is the cassette... tapes always seemed to capture the noise better than their technologically advanced superiors. So, in the transfer, Thorn Laceration Records got it right - yes, they've done CD releases so I'm not shooting blanks here.
Opening introduction "Massive Ritual of the Black Wood" lets the noise flow in due manner. Vocalist Xxxull begins his spiritual vomiting with lengthy hidden spewings of rusty throated torment. The intro sets the stage for "Forgotten," traditional raw black metal track numero-uno. Somewhat repetitive though short enough as to not be a major listening hindrance, Xxxull, also on guitar, and Unknown-H on drums pound through two lengthy riffs. The sheer number of times played should etch this song onto the back of your cranium easily. Black metal song numero... two..., "The Knoll" is the most accessible song on the EP. It has a certain mystical melodic quality, created by the foundation of bassist Sil-blyss over which Xxxull plays some endearing, melodic movements. Slightly triumphant, slightly tragic and slightly hopeful, "The Knoll" is telling a tale for sure, and I wish I knew what that tale was about. It would make a great story.
During "Cold Blut In A Dark Serenade," the release's most longest expression, the EP takes a twist. Though the first three minutes are strong, mid-paced black metal in the vein of late 90's Taake or early Gorgoroth, the song's second half is nothing but bellowing darkness and winds of haunted noise. The song is almost perfectly representative of the demo - first half black metal, second half blackened noise. Indeed, the last two song contain mostly noise. "Salve Thy Forest" has some melodic undertones but the focus is on the tortured static. Final track "Advocator Obscurum Infernalis" is nothing but an expanse of feedback and static. This track, not included on earlier versions, is a nice addition to the EP though perhaps placing it earlier in the playing order and ending with "Forgotten" or "The Knoll" would have created more balance to the disc. "Cold Blut In A Dark Serenade" does end with more crushing blackened metal and the track is very well balanced. So many times I hear black metal tracks with two or three minutes of gurgling hellish sound just end abruptly, spoiling a great moment to take advantage of the tension that builds up in such breaks.
I would like to take the time to stress the balance of the album's styles. Though perhaps the running order could have been changed on this release to present a better EP (though I understand that in keeping with the original release order Thorn Laceration Records was upholding a value in the original product) the black metal never overtakes the demonic background and the darkness and painful moans in the distant expanse never creep over the black. They are both in place, allowing the other to do their frightening deeds. A strong EP though one more song with the depth of "The Knoll" may have made it something more than it turned out to be.