Sunday, March 17, 2013

Into the Void: Early EPs Part 3

Sabbat - Sabbat EP (June, 1985)

This is not the Sabbat you are thinking of. Those guys are a thrash band from the UK. These guys are a black metal band from...Japan! Yes, Japan. I'm not really sure what Japanese pop music sounded like in 1985, but if it was anything like it is today, this must have terrified them.  This release is not really an EP, it's a 7" single, with two songs—"Black Fire," and "Mion's Hill"—and they only pressed 300 of them. I mean, that alone is pretty black metal. Did I mention that it was released by "Evil Records"? Thankfully, the Internet has made these tracks available for our listening.

While they would later go on to become a trio, the band that recorded these songs was actually a quartet, featuring Gezol, Ozny, Elizaveat, and Valvin. What the fuck kind of names those are, I don't know. But so far so good for black metal tropes. The music itself has more of a simplistic thrash sound to my ears, and the vocals are just kind of...there. Gezol had yet to really develop a harsh vocal style, although he would by the band's full-length release in 1991. Still, I felt this pair of songs was fairly significant in being the first Japanese black metal. "Black Fire" is the catchier of the two tracks, and has the most intense vocal delivery.
Final Verdict: 3/10 - the album is a starting place, and not much else

Celtic Frost - Emperor's Return (Aug, 1985)

Tom G Warrior was on a creative kick back then, throwing down the Emperor's Return EP only a few months before Celtic Frost's first full length, To Mega Therion. The evershifting lineup of Celtic Frost was, at this time, Mr. Warrior on guitars and vocals, with Reed St. Mark on the skins and Martin E. Ain on bass. The album is, of course, bass-thick and dynamically rich—two hallmarks of Celtic Frost that don't seem to have had much of an effect on the black metal scene.

While I prefer Morbid Tales, Emperor's Return does include "Circle of the Tyrants," which is one of my favourite Frost songs, and, I think, features obvious black metal elements. The track contains high-speed drumming and tremolo guitars, as well as an aggressive vocal. The song would be re-recorded for To Mega Therion, and I think the version there doesn't have that same "black" feeling to it. "Visual Aggression" has an even more black metal sound, starting out with a frenzied tremolo riff and breaking into madcap drums and strangled vocal barks.

Final Verdict: The more that I work on this project, the more I hear Celtic Frost influence in later bands. It would be a grievous oversight to not include them in the first wave. That said, I don't want to rate them, as they are just as much doom and death metal as they are black metal, and so the rating wouldn't be a fair comparion to the other albums I'm reviewing.

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