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Nocturnal Poisoning (2002)

Nocturnal Poisoning was released in late 2002, marking the first of many disappointing full-lengths to come from Xasthur. Alongside trash like Nargaroth, this may be one of the most overrated bands to ever soil the realm of black metal.

After being introduced to this solo bedroom project with the track "May Your Void Become as Deep as My Hate" (which was fairly decent and Burzum-esque), I did a little research and decided to give a listen to the first Xasthur album. Of particular interest was that this offering featured a cover of an old Mütiilation track. It seemed as if this band might have some potential. I was quite wrong.
Nocturnal Poisoning is an incredibly tedious listen. To my understanding, this is a fairly clear example of DSBM, but the only depressive thing about this is how utterly boring and mundane it all is. From the first track, it is apparent that Malefic is incapable of doing even the most basic black metal vocals, as his voice is so drowned in digital effects that all chance for any feeling to be conveyed by the vocals has been eliminated. That is not too much of a problem, as the songwriting is amateurish and bland. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to even call this songwriting. It would be more appropriate to call this a collection of uninteresting, generic, interchangeable and forgettable riffs that stretches on for over an hour. The overuse of clean guitars in the forefront also does a lot to remove any possible edge this music could have possessed.

Malefic demonstrates that Burzum and Strid were not the only bands he wished to emulate, as "A Gate through Bloodstained Mirrors" gives off somewhat of an old Graveland vibe, particularly with the drum programming. Occasionally, a guitar passage will feel slightly gloomy, but there is nothing to compare it to other than the terribly monotonous and boring riffs that make up the bulk of this wretched album. There are no ups and downs, no journey into the darkness. The riffs have no feeling, the vocals are just a pathetic mess of sound effects and the tracks are all the worse for the fact that they just drag on and on.

The best and most offensive song on here is "Black Imperial Blood". The soft and modern production neuters it, for the most part, with the horrible fake drumming overpowering the guitars. Anyone with any respect for Mütiilation would never have released this atrocity, as it is a complete raping of the original. That said, these are clearly the most interesting riffs on the whole album. In this case, not only was it a bad idea to include the cover track because of how poorly it came out, but it also shows just how weak the rest of the compositions are by comparison.

Later songs introduce more synth into the mix, as if this filth wasn't horrible enough already. "A Walk Beyond Utter Blackness" introduces a somewhat average guitar riff, then proceeds to do nothing to capitalize on it, spoiling it further with random clean guitars and excessively loud bass lines. Finally, nearly an hour into the torture session, the first decent (original) riff appears. The title track starts out with a rather lifeless and sombre melody, but soon loses steam and turns into a terrible Opeth outtake.

Truly, Nocturnal Poisoning is a complete mess. Cover art and song titles aside, there is nothing even remotely dark about this. This guy really just picked up on the absolute weakest elements of black metal and failed in his attempt to emulate them, creating a disgusting and worthless string of albums and split releases over the years. It's a shame that so much talentless scum manages to gain notoriety and support for the complete trash they call music, while other bands go unnoticed or forgotten. You are far better off listening to the older works from Burzum, Strid and Mütiilation. Xasthur was never anything more than a failed effort at making a cheap imitation of those that came before. Avoid this.
(7 Feb. 2015)

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