Horde - _Hellig Usvart_
(Metal Mind Productions, 2008)
by: Quentin Kalis (6 out of 10)
Horde infamously and unintentionally started the "holy unblack" movement back in 1994, with the release of this, his one and only studio release. Headed by Anonymous, whose day job at the time was in Christian metal gods (am I allowed to say that?) Mortification, _Hellig Usvart_ has been re-released by Metal Mind Productions with three obligatory bonus tracks. The booklet includes lyrics and a brief history.

This is a raw and Nordic sounding black metal album in almost all respects bar one: the lyrics are Christian orientated, damning the Antichrist rather than praising him. As such it is a parody of black metal, but deadly serious lyrically. The parody is rather basic, as Anonymous has simply inverted the more objectionable stylistic conventions of the genre, whilst retaining those that cause no umbrage to Christian sensibilities -- or at least his sensibilities, as there is no way this raucous celebration will be heard in any church, whether charismatic, Catholic or anything in between. For example, the artwork remains black and white, the logo is (fairly) illegible, whilst the song titles are suitably overwrought and adjective heavy, often sounding Satanic at first glance (see "Invert the Inverted Cross") whilst the adopted moniker is a pun on one of northern darkness' most celebrated songs.

Sadly, the music is very ordinary and it is doubtful whether it was any good in 1994, never mind 2008, where more CDs of this ilk released in a year outnumber Catholic saints. This was recorded and mixed in the space of a week, and it sounds as if this entire album, from conception to final mix, was done during that period. The production is shoddy, but it is supposed to be like that and is not horrendously over the top. The problem is that it sounds like insufficient time was spent on it. Good black metal, even the simple sort, is not something that can be done over the spring break; it takes time and effort to produce a classic album. It follows that some songs sound disjointed and that no song stands out as being particularly noteworthy. A pity, as this had the potential to be something greater than it is and is noted for being the initiator of "holy unblack" metal and the best parody of the genre -- far better than the juvenile profanities of Blackthrone.

One question remains: Anonymous has demonstrated that he is familiar with black metal conventions which he could have only acquired through listening to the genre's proponents; but how does a devout Christian like Anonymous justify listening to the devil's music?

Contact: http://www.metalmind.com.pl

(article published 9/8/2008)

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