Album the fifth kicks the ass but confuses the head while doing so. It starts with a typically Norwegian sound, as you'd expect, but then slows down and begins to sound like Celtic Frost without Tom G. I love me some early CF, don’t misunderstand, but the repeating change from one to the other makes for a choppy listening experience, especially if you've been bathing in the 'Unholy Trinity' just prior to Panzerfaust. To put it plainly, there's some excellent tracks but very little coherence; it feels more like a compilation.
One half of the original Carter USM line up (the other half can be found HERE), Jim Bob sticks close to what he knows, which, happily, is also what he does best. It has the same kind of pissed-off Pop melodies that characterised a lot of Carter songs, and the same kind of winding-down feelings that speak to the common man.
If it had been released under the Carter name, I don't think many people would've known the difference.
I was pretty obsessed with this album because of a certain someone. How does it fare a decade removed from that time? Not as bad as I imagined. Kris Roe deals in (what he desires to be) philosophically minded emo-rock. Sometimes he succeeds, sometimes he doesn’t. Thankfully, the missteps here aren’t nearly as damning as they are on the ridiculously pretentious follow-up. It isn’t an eye-roll free experience but there’s some nice sentiments expressed, especially when you have the context for the more schlocky-seeming among them. Between now and then I’ve heard far worse and far better.
Paul Leonard-Morgan's score is evocative of the gritty, dirty underbelly of Dredd's violent world. In that respect, it's a roaring success; but a repetitive, noisy and abrasive electronic punch in the face that flirts with dark ambient and industrial soundscapes will alienate many casual listeners.
There's an occasional frail, textured wave of hope attempting to break through the overabundant distortion, but the thick bass keeps it cruelly subdued. The timing seems a little haphazard in places, almost as if it was made by a bedroom musician dabbling in Cubase. I'm going to assume that was intentional.
Wrapped in what's surely a strong contender for cover art of the Century, this early, brutal release from the "most blasphemous band in the world" is a hell of a lot better than I'd anticipated it would be. It's an interesting blend of down-tuned Black and Death metal with a cluster of unexpected tempo changes that keep things fresh. There's even some creeping Doom influences in there.
It was originally released on cassette in '91, but the version you're likely to find if you go shopping will be the '95 Osmose reissue. It included an additional three tracks, two of which are Bathory covers, because everyone loves Bathory!