Week after week Aquarius Records pump out newsletters like Sears, Roebuck once did catalogs...and just as those catalogs once did for Christmas wish-lists nationwide, Aquarius now does for record geek want-lists worldwide...which is why, even though they don't seem to like anyone here but Aaron, we still gotta give 'em mad respect. You don't become a tastemaker overnight, instead, in the case of Aquarius anyway, you do it the slowly-but-surely way....year after year and review after review...make that 39 YEARS and, easily, THOUSANDS of reviews. This recent review for Xasthur is one of 'em...there are plenty more reviews where that one came from at www.aquariusrecords.org...once you start browsing you'll have a shopping cart for of shit you never heard of...seriously...
XASTHUR "All Reflections Drained" (Hydra Head) 2lp 21.00
Originally released as a super limited cassette, now available as an equally limited and even more deluxe double lp, housed in an unbelievably swank and ultra thick gatefold jacket, with printed inner sleeves and pressed on super heavy vinyl! WOW.
But packaging aside, FINALLY, a new record from Xasthur, aka Malefic, a one man doom-ed depressive black metal machine, whose last release, Defective Epitaph was a huge hit around these parts, due in no small part to the shift from drum machine to actual drums, no programmed beats, actual kit bashing rhythms courtesy of Malefic himself, and the result was pretty stellar, creating a sound even more raw and murky and lo-fi than past efforts, but no less bleak or introspective or amazing. So now comes All Reflections Drained, soon to come on double lp, and we would assume cd, but for now available only in the very old school, very metal, and very kult kassette format. And it's very much a continuation of Defective Epitaph, from moment one, the sound boomy and reverb drenched, echoey and WAY lo-fi, loping doomy guitars, stumbling midtempo drums, and then WOAH, the sound shifts, and the drums double time it under a layer of thick low end dramatic piano, creating some strange Skepticismy drift, over the relentlessly buzzing blackness below. The mix is REALLY weird, fractured and gloriously fucked up, the sounds shifting and merging into one another, the songs too, woozy and warped and seasick sounding and a bit waltzy, the drum sound super raw and distant and for the most part buried in the mix, minus some flurries of kick drum that practically explode. The guitars are washed out and melancholic, lumbering doomily through hazy clouds of muted buzz and soft focus hiss, lots of creeped out ambience, and dark soundscaping, way less of a focus on vocals, in fact several songs in, and we barely noticed any, minus some far off clean crooning and some rumbled mutterings, the usual blackened harsh rasps seemingly lost in the swirling off kilter mix.
If anything this record is a logical extension of the direction Malefic had been taking the sound of Xasthur, like a Defective Epitaph part two maybe, but somehow quite a bit doomier, and WAY weirder, more spaced out and experimental, with a serious focus on dark brooding non-metal parts, hints of slowcore and drone abound, some parts are downright orchestral, and the sound is definitely even murkier and mysterious than ever, dripping with buzz and tape hiss, blown out low end (that sounds like a tuba or something similar) and thick crumbling distortion, but fear not troo grim hordes, it's still plenty depressive and dolorous, minor key and epic, miserable and moody, gorgeously buzzy and bafflingly brilliant.