XASTHUR — Nocturnal Poisoning (review)

XASTHUR — Nocturnal Poisoning album cover Album · 2002 · Atmospheric Black Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
Starting out as a band in the not so black metal city of Alhambra in the Los Angeles region of sunny California, XASTHUR began as a band project in 1996 but due to clashes in personality and musical differences would soon become the solo project of Scott “Malefic” Conner who proved that you don’t have to emerge from the frigid northern regions of the planet to create some of the darkest and chilling sounds in musical form. The moniker came from a combination of “Hastur” and “Xenaoth” which ultimately came form a Necrononicon book and refers to a demoness who kills people in their sleep. And that pretty much is what this debut album NOCTURNAL POISONING is all about!

By the turn of the millennium the second wave of black metal had fully splintered into myriad directions with some bands taking a more symphonic approach while others going the direction of taking things even further into the darkness where lo-fi rawness was retained and subdued rage was turned inward into self-hatred and depression. Following in the footsteps of other depressive black metal bands like Bethlehem, Deinonychus and I Shalt Become, XASTHUR carried the torch of nurturing depressive themes, nihilism, hatred and self-mutilation while keeping an atmospheric otherworldly storm of gloom and doom humming along behind the distorted tremolo picking and raspy vocal angst.

NOCTURNAL POISONING emerged after a series of demos and splits and showcases a lengthy sprawling run of hideously grotesque black metal assaults that implement rhythmic marches that meander on with atmospheric mood setting keyboards that linger in the lugubrious zone. The album is a lengthy one and squeaks just over the 69 minute mark which makes this one a bit long to take in but in many ways the steady stream of depressive caustic guitars, blastbeats and atmospheric gloom and doom offer a hypnotic respite into a cathartic purging of demons from the soul. With aggressive assaults teased out into rampaging streams of consciousness, XASTHUR mastered the art of steadily injecting this sonic venom into your psyche and pushing all the dopamine buttons as it is literally addictive.

Black metal may all sound the same to the uninitiated but true believers know it’s all about the subtle differences beneath the bantering bombast and distorted din. XASTHUR is in the same field as bands like Leviathan, Stirborg, I Shalt Become and France’s Mutilation in that is remains true to the original second wave stylistic approach of early Darkthrone, Mayhem and Emperor but slows the tempos down a bit and adds keyboard delivered atmospheres for the sake of creating a frigidly horrific sonicscape that amplifies the depressive nature of this beast. Melefic is the god of this blackened universe and plays all instruments, rasps all vocals and pens all lyrics. This is a really decent black metal release if you want the darkest, bleakest examples of the genre where all hope is extinguished and the underworld is your eternal sentencing. Perhaps a bit too long for its own good as many tracks meander aimlessly but a perfect album for a cold bleak day when the right mood hits.
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