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The Oddball Lo-Fi Metal of Zurburus, Crystal Darkness and Splatorgy

1 July 2008

MySpace is well-known for its vast library of music, whether major, indie or unsigned, but it’s a toss-up as to whether the music will be downloadable, and, depending on your Internet settings, downloading from MySpace can be difficult.

Basically, if you’re using Firefox, you have to allow pop-ups for If you’re using Internet Explorer or Netscape or any other web browser…Why? Download Firefox. Seriously. It’ll change your online life.

Anyway, with a little bit of searching and a lot of luck, I found a few bands on MySpace that not only fixed my metal jones, but also allow their songs to be downloaded. All three bands hail from Europe and they all have a distinct, unique take on the ambiguous genre of “metal,” especially with their incredibly short songs, most clocking in at under two minutes.

Their MySpace page claims the band is from Vatican City, but, for some reason, I doubt this, although I hope it’s true. The songs available for download are three blasts of black metal belligerence. “Camo Buck Knife” begins slowly, then speeds up, while the guitar remains abstract in a FLIPPER sort of way, and the vocals screech like the demons in LAMBERTO BAVA’s movie Demons. “Dog Face Brah” and “Hell By Any Other Name” are slightly more traditional, with an emphasis on slightly. There are metal riffs and even leads, but the overall outcome is so abstract and bizarre that it shares more in common with CAPTAIN BEEFHEART or JANDEK than your typical idea of metal.

Poland’s Splatorgy would probably be described as “goregrind” by purists, but I don’t understand Polish, so I’m only guessing. The four songs on their page are incredibly tight bursts of chainsaw guitars, impossibly metronomic drumming and dual gutteral/screeching vocals. If there’s a bass in the mix, I can’t tell. The only song with an English title is “Cadaver We Got,” but with the indecipherable vocals, it may as well be in Polish.

Hailing from France, Zurburus, my favorite band out of the three, is like XASTHUR for people with short attention spans. The songs drone with heavy reverb, some reaching two-and-a-half minutes! The instrumentation seems to be a drum machine and a keyboard of some sort – perhaps even a toy piano. The vocals are tortured laments buried perfectly in the mix. “Har Vey Kel Logg” and “Holy Scissor of Gaydhlig” are anguished funeral dirges, while “Oracle of Death” and “Darkness Had Come” are faster and slightly more industrial in nature, like early NON, SPK or EINSTURZENDE NEUBATEN.

“Metal” is usually defined by gratuitous guitar solos and meathead ideology. What attracts me to these bands, more than anything else, is their seeming disdain for these stereotypes. Like KARP, THE MELVINS or THE 400 BLOWS, these bands twist metal to their liking, not the other way around. It’s precisely this mindset that has attracted me so much to black metal. I ask you to lay down your preconceived notions and open yourselves to music that you would ordinarily ignore. You may not like all of it, but the ones that grab you will be worth it.


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