The United States was certainly not the country of black metal pioneers, but there were a few gems too. Judas Iscariot is a band I wouldn’t disregard when talking about the second wave of black metal during the 90s. The Cold Earth Slept Below... is the first full-lenght by Judas Iscariot of which sole member Akhenaten has always handled all the instruments and vocals by himself (with the exception of the drums on the last album).
From the first seconds of The Cold Earth Slept Below... we can notice the clear influences of Darkthrone’s Transilvanian Hunger era. Many of the riffs go exactly in that vein, including the drums’ monotonous blast beats, that are at times very sloppy played, by the way. The monotony aspect is also present in the vocal delivery. The album does include other kind of material too, from the fast war metal pieces of ”Wrath” and parts of "Reign" to the doomish atmosphere of the album ending song ”Nietzsche”. The whole style of The Cold Earth Slept Below... is something you can hear Clandestine Blaze playing during the 2000s, in case you want something to compare to.
The production is something I’m really fond of. It’s smooth, it’s analogue, it’s not polished, it’s enough raw. Musically, the clear influences don’t bother me, as I still enjoy The Cold Earth Slep Below... greatly. Highlights include ”Babylon” with its transitions from Darkthrone riffs to kick-ass power chords, and the title-track of which main riff sounds, oddly enough, almost happy. The latter half of the album is slightly not as interesting as the first half, but nonetheless, it’s a really enjoyable album that I can put on any time without hesitation, even if it’s not totally original music. It doesn’t always have to be.