Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Review: Thee Kvlt ov (((Ouroboros - Demo 2007 - Rehearsalis Megatherion

There's sort of a perpetual conversation that goes on in music criticism, and especially in the metal scene, where the concept of ensconced "classics" is so constant: is it possible for the meta-aspects of a musical release (its historical importance, its influence on others, its progression of a genre, etc.) to be as or more important than the music itself? Certainly, I can lean towards that in some cases; I personally can't stand Cynic's "Focus" but still see it as an extremely relevant, important, and by all means "great" album. Then again, I'm quick to castigate others who do similar things, so perhaps I shouldn't be so judgmental.

At least that concept is somewhat accepted, though. Now what if I was to tell you that Thee Kvlt of (((Ouroboros' "Demo 2007 - Rehearsalis Megatherion" is a relevant and phenomenal release not because of its music? Though that's a very solid and cool part of it, it's not as important as other features. Considering what it is (a CDr demo by a Florida black/doom band,) it's definitely not a matter of historical importance or anything. But let's draw our eyes to an underappreciated part of the title: "Rehearsalis." Yes, this is a rehearsal- a full-length one- filled with half-improvised tracks, raw production, and a total lack of real, album-minded coherency. There's in-jokes between members as tracks end and begin, random samples dot the disc, and several of the tracks are just impromptu jam sessions. So why is this so awesome?

I've become more and more drawn to the concept of released rehearsals- coming in the space between a true demo and an actual live representation, they seem to show many bands at their most "natural"- not hamming it up for an audience nor trying to be perfect for a recording. These warts-and-all tapes and CDrs are very appealing to me, and Thee Kvlt of (((Ouroboros cooks up a phenomenal one here. Some backstory: this band was, for a while, sort of a weird secret of the Florida metal scene. Hailing from the (then) rather non-metal city of Gainesville, Thee Kvlt ov (((Ouroboros would sort of randomly show up on inappropriate shows in Gainesville, Jacksonville, or Orlando, never really acquiring a "following" as such, but never ceasing to distress and surprise the audience with their odd, off-kilter, jarring sort of music.

Thee Kvlt ov (((Ouroboros (somewhat similar to the later project Hot Graves) owes a lot to old Celtic Frost and Hellhammer. In fact, if you can imagine a stoner/sludge/doom take on Hellhammer's nastiest, slowest tracks, you have a good idea of what this sounds like. Employing two basses in lieu of six-string guitars, the sound of this music is predictably blown-out, noisy, and heavy, with brackish distortion from the strings murderously clipping whatever recording engine was used and distant, chiming, dry drums and vocals bouncing off each other in the background. Obviously, being able to pick out musical movements from the morass of noise can be tricky, especially when tracks like "Black Cancer" offer a Goatsblood sense of songwriting where bridges just lead to more bridges and the band staunchly refuses to settle down into a coherent pattern. Occasionally you'll get a faster, more overtly black metal track, but for the most part this is unceasingly droning and cruel. It's unfriendly music and it's wonderful for it.

As I said though, it's not so much about the music as the atmosphere. Oddly ritualistic as well as light-hearted (goofy jokes get shouted between songs, the instrumental performances are far from precise,) the sense that I get from this disc is that it's music made by people who truly love metal and embrace every part of it. It's easy for these guys to do hideous, mangled black/doom and end it with a random joke about how one of the members has to go to work in an hour, because they understand that these things aren't incongruous with each other. The obvious practice space production, nasty, nonexistent mixing, and incredibly intense vocal and drum performances all come together to make a release that really sounds like fucking around with your bandmates, playing songs you've done a thousand times before- and if you like metal and haven't had that experience, you should resolve that right now.

Buy this album on Amazon

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