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Tol Cormpt Norz Norz Norz (1992)
 

Finland is a country that has spawned some rather unique bands, over the years. In the early-to-mid '90s, there was a certain gloom that permeated most of the underground releases from this land. From the chaotic and evil Black Metal of Beherit and Archgoat to the epic and sombre Death Metal of Amorphis and Sentenced, on to the agonizing Funeral Doom of Thergothon and Skepticism, Finland was a breeding ground for dark music of all kinds. The debut record from Impaled Nazarene was no different. Following up on a handful of demos and an E.P. of terribly short length, these Finns came along in November 1992 to unleash something quite hellish and chaotic of their own.

Tol Cormpt Norz Norz Norz is a rather peculiar album. It features no less than seventeen tracks, giving it a very cluttered feel. Many of the ideas come off as unfinished and scattered, with only six songs of proper length. Several of the shorter tracks could have been incorporated into other songs, or merely left out entirely. Due to the weird composition of the album, this is definitely something that needs to be listened to all the way through to get the best impression. For example, listening to "Goat Perversion" without the following track, "The Forest (The Darkness)" will give a sense of incompleteness. Musically, this is a very intense record. Similarities can be drawn between this and the early works of Blasphemy and Beherit, with somewhat of a Death Metal influence present, at times. Of course, this part of their sound has greatly decreased since the earlier demos. Rather than showing too much influence from their Norwegian counterparts, this Finnish band injects a strong Punk Rock feeling in their songwriting, at times, particularly noticeable with the more upbeat drumming patterns. It is quite obvious that these guys have deep roots in the old school underground scene and this music does well to keep up the dark and brutal spirit of those that came before. Though a lot of people may get kind of lost with the various interludes and intros, as well as the sometimes monotonous song structures, it is clear that the guitar riffs are designed to create a dark and menacing atmosphere and Impaled Nazarene definitely succeeds in this department. While a lot of the guitar melodies may pass by you like a whirlwind, there are plenty of others that stand out and will remain in your head for a long time, luring you back for repeated listens.

For a Black Metal album from 1992, this has rather good sound. In effect, it possesses more of a typical Death Metal production, with thick guitars and powerful drums. The guitar tone is warm rather than cold, but it suits the hellish and claustrophobic vibe of the music. The drumming is at just the right level in the mix to retain its power and to help drive the songs forward with all of the intended aggression, yet not overpowering the rest as is the case with many other records. The vocals are high enough to be heard, despite the rather unclear and raspy style employed. Chances are, as this was fairly early on in the Second Wave movement, the idea of achieving a lo-fi and necro sound was not ingrained in the mind of the various bands yet. What you will hear in this case is a very clear sound, though still maintain a genuine feel and not straying into plastic territory.

Tol Cormpt Norz Norz Norz is a great album and belongs in the collection of anyone into early '90s Black Metal. This may not quite be on the level of A Blaze in the Northern Sky, but it comes very close and beats the hell out of a large percentage of the albums that were being released at the time. I feel somewhat robbed having been introduced to the band through albums like Suomi Finland Perkele, as the previous material is vastly superior and is actually rather impressive. Impaled Nazarene managed to take some influences and work them into a maniacal sound all their own, creating something blasphemous and dark that still holds up two decades later. This album may be a little difficult to wrap your head around, due to the structure and the inclusion of so many song fragments, but it is well worth the time and effort.
 
(6 Oct. 2012)

 
 

Ugra-Karma, the sophomore effort from Impaled Nazarene, was released in December 1993 through Osmose Productions. Unlike other bands from the Finnish Black Metal scene, such as Beherit and Archgoat, Impaled Nazarene shared many similarities with the bands from Norway, at least on the surface. This L.P. represented yet another step in that direction, while also improving upon many of the flaws of the debut. Though far from perfect, Ugra-Karma represents the pinnacle of the band's career.

One of the most noticeable aspects of this record has to be the production. The pummeling of the drums, often, take the focus off of the guitar riffs. Throughout the entire album, the percussion is far too high in the mix and is rather distracting, at times. There are occasions where the bass is too loud, as well, but this is much more rare. The vocals, of course, are never buried in the mix and are always featured well enough to be heard clearly. The guitar tone is rather odd, sounding like a rusty saw blade, for the most part. While not really that negative, the riffs may have been better suited by a colder sound.

Aside from the nitpicking, the actual musical content of Ugra-Karma is quite enjoyable. Gone are the inconsistent songwriting and occasional Death Metal leanings of Tol Cormpt Norz Norz Norz..., replaced by more developed arrangements and an overall cohesiveness that was previously lacking. Rather than filling space with countless tracks that go nowhere and clock in at or under the one minute mark, Impaled Nazarene put more time and thought into their second offering and put forth a solid collection of tunes. The one exception to this would have to be "Gott ist Tot", which is an utterly worthless techno track that seems very much out-of-place. The majority of the songs center around blast beats and tremolo melodies, though the guitars hardly ever have an opportunity to create a dark atmosphere. However, that is as much a result of the poor production as it is the punk / Motörhead influence that is detected in the execution of the material, most evident in songs like "Soul Rape" and "Kali-Yuga". Though this record possesses many of the same ingredients as albums like Pure Holocaust and Under A Funeral Moon, the prevailing mentality behind it is much more in line with the first Blasphemy album. The end result is an album that fails to imbue the listener with a dreadful sense of darkness, opting instead for a straightforward barbaric onslaught.

This is highly recommended for fans of the Second Wave of Black Metal. and is the one essential Impaled Nazarene release, providing stronger songwriting than its predecessor and yet more integrity than its successor. Though it shares very little in common with albums such as Drawing Down the Moon or Tales of Desecration, Ugra-Karma is one of the cornerstones of the early Finnish scene.
 
(15 Feb. 2012)

 
Suomi Finland Perkele (1994)
 

Suomi Finland Perkele is the third L.P. from Impaled Nazarene. It was recorded in the misty depths of Finland, during the summer of 1994, and released that October. As one who prefers a certain level of seriousness with music, I found it difficult to get into this band, for years. I had heard the opening to "Total War" and was put off, more or less. However, I came to realize that what Impaled Nazarene embodied was a more traditional Metal attitude, similar to Venom, Motorhead and so on. At least, that was the impression that I had gotten. Once I finally gave this album a chance, I discovered that this was only one aspect of the greater whole. This album seemed to hold more than a few surprises.

The intro is rather brief, yet does well to build up a bit of tension. This is the sound of a horde of barbarians preparing for war. "Vitutuksen Multihuipennus" begins with fast tremolo riffs and blasting drums, not sounding too distant from their Norwegian counterparts, despite the supposed hatred that they had for them. The song maintains a fast pace throughout, though managing to incorporate a couple memorable riffs. The lyrics are in Finnish, and the vocals are slightly reminiscent of Master's Hammer. The only complaint about this song is that it is over too soon.

"Blood Is Thicker Than Water" is more mid-paced than the opener. The bass is very audible on this album, which suits it just fine. The main riff of this song is very similar to a riff found on Samael's Ceremony of Opposites album. Regardless of which one came first, Impaled Nazarene probably manage to make better use of it. The melodies in this song create kind of a depressive feeling. The lyrics follow suit, though one has to wonder if this is serious or not.

The pace picks up, once more, with "Steelvagina". Odd song titles, such as this, probably influenced my opinion of this band, long before I bothered to really give them a chance. The cold and epic tremolo riffs and venomous vocals are proof enough that I made an error in judging this band. For a group that professed some sort of negative opinion toward the Norwegian Black Metal scene, they certainly have a bit more in common with them as opposed to fellow Finnish bands, such as Beherit or Archgoat.

"Total War - Winter War" begins with a cheesy part that features a lot of shouting and cursing. This is where the less-than-serious Venom influence seems to come through. As the song really gets going, it maintains the fast pace that was heard on the previous song. The tremolo riffs are mixed with a lot of open chords, carried forward by the steady, blasting drums. This song, in particular, possesses a lot of the 80s metal spirit, especially toward the end.

The next song is "Quasb / The Burning", which begins with slight keyboard use that accompanies the slow, doom riffs. At 4:07, this is actually the longest song on the album. It maintains the feeling of a slow and painful death by suffocation, throughout. Some double bass comes into play, near the end of the song, though the pace never really goes beyond a funeral march.

This feeling is completely destroyed with the blasting fury of "Kuolema Kaikille (Paitsi Meille)" which is one of the fastest (and shortest) songs on the album. At :50, it is more of a chaotic interlude than an actual song. It serves its purpose well enough, breaking up the bleak atmosphere created by the previous song and setting the stage for what is to come.

"Let's Fucking Die!" returns to the oldschool 80s approach of Venom. This is the kind of song that one headbangs to, while driving at high speeds down dark stretches of highway. It even features a pretty wicked guitar solo, near the end. Strangely enough, this is really the only song that lives up to the preconceived notions that I had about this band.

The build-up to "Genocide" is fairly reminiscent of several old thrash albums from the 80s, feeling eerily similar to Slayer's "Hell Awaits". The song then blasts forward at full speed, complete with memorable tremolo riffs and sinister vocals. As with all of the songs on this record, it is over pretty quickly, never having the opportunity to overstay its welcome.

The next song is the one that got me interested in really checking out this album. "Ghettoblaster" features brilliant harmonies that remain embedded in your brain for years. The cold, tremolo melodies, the snarling and hateful vocals and the blasting drums all come together to create probably the best song on this album, as well as some great lyrics:

"Kill! Fucking kill!
No mercy for scum!"

It doesn't get much more straight-forward than that. The song is kind of short, though that may add to its appeal as it leaves the listener wanting more.

Suomi Finland Perkele concludes with "The Oath of the Goat". This mid-paced effort is the second-longest song on the album. All in all, it has kind of a bizarre feeling to it. It seems as if it is building toward something that never really comes. For brief moments, it appears that it will, yet it is almost as if they are holding back. The album ends with a very strange, choppy version of the war cry that begins the album, which only adds to the strange feeling this song possesses.

This album is very enjoyable, as Impaled Nazarene does well to blend their old school roots with the sounds of the Second Wave Black Metal bands. This is actually the only L.P. of theirs that I am familiar with, but I recommend it for anyone that doesn't already own it. The songs display a wide variety of tempos and each maintains its own identity. Even the 50 second song serves a purpose in the overall structure of the album. This is quality Finnish Black Metal. Buy this or kill yourself. Better yet, just go ahead and kill yourself.
 
(3 Mar. 2009)

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