Xasthur - _Subliminal Genocide_
(Hydrahead, 2006)
by: T. DePalma (3 out of 10)
Following his protracted leave from Moribund Records over ethical (flowing from financial) arguments, the perpetually joyless Malefic unveils the fifth Xasthur album on Los Angeles based Hydrahead Records.

As the most non-essential release of this year, _Subliminal Genocide_ empties a swamp of Malefic's feigned distress over a redundant set that, much like the types of "depressives" one meets in real life, adds up to a complete and self-interested bore. Out of twelve tracks, only three are worth the time involved. Out of those three, one ("The Prison of Mirrors") is a fair reiteration of the music's cloak and grief: distortion rises over contrasts of guitar chords in a kind of macabre waltz limned by keyboard haze; the second ("Arcane and Misanthropic Projection "), a more dynamic track with a rift between Chasm-esque interlude and re-entrance into out and out Xasthur-metal; and the third (title track), which has much in common with the first. Running over 70 minutes, nothing justifies such ridiculous length (the longest since the original release of_A Gate Through Bloodstained Mirrors_).

Barely a single element survives the monotony, and unlike friends in Sunn O))), nothing is left to chance. Here are contours, moments to adjust. We become familiar and learn to see again; and see through it as well. These repetitions gain no depth or mystery in the process. Where it once appeared as though the music was being extended into more adventurous territory, it now falls back on formula. It is the sound of nothing; futile and unthinking. At last black metal has a near-perfect work of nihilism, though not as it might have intended. The irony is that by essentially going nowhere musically, Xasthur has become the password into underground metal among trendy young journos, lending fresh verbiage to those so used to effusing the rote sentimentality of the upper catalog. (Accordingly, recent praise has described this album as being too intelligent for black metal.)

With his embarrassingly juvenile persona, Malefic has become a muse for mediocrity -- a sad clown filled with all the secret vanity that accompanies such false and vapid expression. Finally the costume has fallen apart. Let the next time we hear of Xasthur be in that periodic merging of art into reality, which in the case of Scott Conner clashes a sound of self-extermination, once and for all.

Contact: http://www.hydrahead.com

(article published 14/10/2006)

1/30/2004 M Noll 6.5 Xasthur - The Funeral of Being
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