Nazxul - _Live_
(Decius Productions, 2002)
by: James Montague (8.5 out of 10)
It's hard to believe this band, formed in 1993, avoided live performances for their first five years, but there I was in October 1998, witnessing the first ever Nazxul stage show. On that occasion they played far too loud, and seemed to lose themselves in patches. But they did have a lot of energy, a mystical fa├žade, and pig's blood for good measure. Less than a year later, I had procured the _Black Seed_ MCD from which much of the blurred live mayhem had originated. Now familiar with the superb material, I returned to watch them support Impaled Nazarene's Australian tour and demonstrate the huge strides they had taken in the live environment. With an immense sound, vastly improved technical support and a consequently tighter performance, they utterly annihilated their infamous Finnish brethren. Now, with this attractive, thick 12" picture LP, the whole world can bear witness to this antipodean phenomenon.

The performance opens with some chilling choirs and an invocation of the ancient gods of Xul (or something), and a beckoning for the dead to rise from their graves. This sets the scene for Nazxul's masterwork, "Vow of Vengeance", one of black metal's most stirring anthems. This is followed by another track from _Black Seed_, "Under the Sign of Life's Living End". After the creeping horror of the opening song, this track provides unrelenting, blasting power that would have completely immersed the audience. The riffier, death metal-influenced "Distance Begins" is the first of two performances from their debut album, followed by the title track "Totem". Finally comes the treat Nazxul fans had patiently awaited for three years (and are STILL fucking waiting for!), a pair of songs from the _Iconoclast_ LP, which we are assured will eventually surface, four years and counting since its promised release date. These tracks are epic, expansive pieces, chock full of atmospheric melodic sections and mesmerising blasts of mayhem. They bode well for a masterpiece, if and when it sees the light of day.

Now for the sticking point of so many underground live albums: the sound quality. Rest assured that this LP has crystal-clear sound, unlike the many muffled tapedeck recordings we're all used to. However, the one thing which immediately stood out about this recording is the prominence of the keyboards. Nazxul's keyboards have always been a very distant contributor in their studio recordings, barely noticeable but playing a valuable support role. Now they almost appear to drive the songs, which is misrepresentative of the Nazxul method. For this reason alone, I would recommend novices to seek out studio recordings by the band rather than leap straight to the live release. However, the masterful _Black Seed_ EP is hard to find, so maybe you'll just have to buy this record and try to mentally downsize the keyboards!


(article published 28/4/2003)

7/17/1996 S Hoeltzel 5 Nazxul - Totem
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