Weakling - _Dead as Dreams_
(Tumult, 2000)
by: Alvin Wee (10 out of 10)
How a genre-defining opus as mighty as this has managed to slip beneath my radar for so long shall forever remain a mystery (as well as cause for endless shame). From somewhat dubious roots (members from The Fucking Champs, Ludicra and other San Francisco obscurities) springs black metal genius of the highest order, delivering one single crushing blow -- Weakling has since disbanded -- to the posturing scene of today. Making comparisons between the atmosphere of _Kronet Til Konge_-era Dødheimsgard and that of the opening track is tempting, for such combination of precise old-school black-thrashing fury with grand hypnotism has been mastered by precious few (very early Swordmaster, for instance). Yet Weakling add to that equation a natural complexity not often found in black metal, their timely tempo shifts and chord progressions hinting at a compositional maturity exceeding the vast majority of the self-important underground. Alternating between firing blazing black/thrash riff-bullets and rolling out crushing doom-lines, the band dangles the listener in the gap between triumphant melody and disharmonic chaos, ever so often breaking into avant-garde interludes or extended passages of distorted drone without ever losing momentum. Weakling reprises all the developments of black metal in the past two decades (replete with a singer scaling Bethlehem-like heights of anguish), and yet, like Emperor with _Prometheus_, has mastered the method sufficiently to stand above all blame whilst fucking around with the conventions of the genre. Contrary to what the label (and some other reviews) claims, Weakling is by no means extraordinarily experimental or genre-transcending, but rather genre-defining. The shocking depth of emotion, sheer musical ability and keenness of ear for all things destructive displayed on this masterpiece should be the goal for all black metal bands wishing to transcend mediocrity.

Contact: http://www.tumult.net

(article published 23/3/2004)

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