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Azaghal : Mustamaa : Metal albums reviews

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Azaghal : Mustamaa, brief review

Azaghal :  Mustamaa

Band name: Azaghal

I would like to begin this review, by saying that Azaghal makes the music that stands closest to my heart. The essence of evil and coldness that enwraps this album is jaw dropping. Rarely have I stumbled on such a wicked piece of labour. Satan must be pleased.
Azaghal undoubtedly suffers from a case of Darkthrone worship, and this is proudly shown throughout the record… Actually, that is not such a bad thing; things that make you want to put on one of your old Darkthrone albums should be praised. Still, a little creativity wouldn’t go amiss.
As for the musicianship and vocals, Azaghal plays misanthropic and monotonous tunes and the waves of despair are in the own way “charming” and to some degree quite catchy. The vocals shift between the usual “lost forgotten sad spirit”-style and a, at some times quite cool, deep resonant demonic howling.
With that said, one problem should be addressed. The songs are not very varied and even though I listened to the album a lot, before writing this, I found myself unable to find out which song was which. Only “Juudas” is clearly different and is in my opinion, easily the best track on this release. Rarely have I heard such a beguiling tune in a black metal tune. I’m actually so fond of this song that I’ve decided to raise the total score by 5.
Azaghal are well above mediocrity that is unquestionable, but they still have some minor problems that need tweaking. Still, all in all, this is a fairly good piece of raw old school black metal that shows how Azaghal has many good years in front of them (this album was released in 1999).

Mustamaa was the first album I bought from Azaghal and I still love it. The aggressive, frozen sound and the misanthropic approach were a trademark for this band in the glory days because now, even with good albums, they lost something in grimness and rawness; two very important elements of this kind of black metal.

Here we have a sum of what black metal is about. We can meet obviously Darkthrone influences along with early Hellhammer drums parts and a sort of punk attitude. A track like “Yhta Yon Kanssa” carries inside the completeness of black metal: arpeggios, raw vocals with some clearer as chorus and fast tempo parts with minimal guitars/drums sound. The main important thing for them is grimness made through simplicity and catchy parts.

The main riff on the title track is pure sadness and here we can really see the ability in changing the musical offer in the different songs, passing through depressive metal, to raw black with some folk elements. Each songs has its form with its main, catchy riff and a very simple structure. “Portinvartija” is total Hellhammer worship with punk up tempo sections and distorted bass. Awesome.

The vocals here are one of the rawest things heard in black metal…fantastic. The lead guitar line on “Juudas” is fantastic while “Kosto” shows again old school influences with a touch of primordial thrash/black in the guitars and the tempo. With the final “Viimeinen Taistelu” we can meet some more epic melodies, always a bit suffocated by the black atmosphere and sound.

All in all, an album to admire for sincerity and passion. Even if they were yet a bit bound to Darkthrone they were able to show their skills in this genre and, most of all, their pure madness. Crazy Finnish guys playing raw black metal!

I was I could openly claim to like something as openly Satanic as this. Sadly, the overall feeling is a bit flat compared to many other black metal releases in this vein. The Darkthrone-with-choirs theme might have seemed a bit stronger had the production been given a solid kick and the vocals not sounded so weak. They are obviously sincere in their belief systems, but the music is average at best and while not offensive - it falls to the status of being completely "average" and sometimes dullard compared to the stronger releases presented in the black metal community.

This is not to say that the CD has NO moments of glory...but those moments come few and far between. The clean vocals on "Mustamaa Morder" create a nice atmosphere and the thumping riffcraft of "Kuolema Kristsekke" works as well. The riff-heavy "Juudas", and "Viimeinen Taistelu" also show a few strong moments within the chaos. None of this is going to redefine black metal though, and the before-mentioned production still presents some problems in the songs delivering a dark atmosphere.

Azaghal may be "kvlt" as "kvlt" can be but they really don't seem to get beyond a singular concept that works well once or twice. When the band does get it's shit together they work out a good riff structure and vocal melody here and there but they should have developed this if they wished to stand out against the faceless mass of bands doing the EXACT same thing.

I give this a hesitant thumbs up as it represents an "ok" release that many in the black metal community will enjoy...but I find it a bit flat overall.

Album: Mustamaa, review

The bands country origin: Finland

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