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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 similarities with the bands from Norway, at least on the surface. This L.P. represented yet another step in that direction and, though not a very good release, is probably the high point 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 away from 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. In fact, the vocals probably would have been less annoying if not so prominent. 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.

As for the actual musical content of Ugra-Karma, it is rather dull and meaningless. Gone are the inconsistent songwriting and occasional death metal leanings of Tol Cormpt Norz Norz Norz..., replaced by an overall cohesiveness that was previously lacking. That said, the songwriting is still rather poor and forgettable. "Sadhu Satana", "Hate" and "Soul Rape" are the most tolerable tracks on here. The rest are just background noise, really. Yes, the drums are blasting and the guitars are playing fast but there is no feeling, at all. It's not that the songs are horrible, just unnecessary. Well, except for "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 some 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, lifeless approach.

This truly is a useless album. Ugra-Karma clocks in at almost forty minutes, and yet contains very few memorable riffs. One would expect fast-paced songs to have a bit of intensity, but there is none. Most of this is just noise for the sake of noise. It's neither dark nor aggressive. It just exists. Unfortunately, this might be Impaled Nazarene's most solid recording and it amounts to nothing. Avoid this.
 
(15 Feb. 2012)

 
Suomi Finland Perkele (1994)
 

Suomi Finland Perkele is the third L.P. from Impaled Nazarene. Released in October 1994, this album is rather weird and inconsistent, as if the band was having some kind of identity crisis. The songwriting is all over the place, really, and it was this sort of thing that always kept me from getting into the band. In general, the unserious attitude and the ridiculous song titles are very off-putting, though there are a few worthy bits to be found here. 

Songs like "Vitutuksen Multihuipennus", "Genocide" and "Ghettoblaster" are rather straightforward and feature the sort of tremolo riffs that had come to define the second wave black metal sound. They contain the most memorable melodies on the whole album and are among the only ones that I care to listen to, personally. The production of the album is fairly good, too, with a decent guitar tone and a mix that suits these tracks, at least. "Let's Fucking Die" is decent enough, though takes a totally different approach, much more reminiscent of Venom. It is nothing special, but at least it isn't bad. That said, even the very best parts of this album are mediocre when compared to other releases from this era. With the likes of De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, Transilvanian Hunger, Hvis lyset tar oss, Pentagram and even In the Nightside Eclipse all seeing the light of day the same year, Suomi Finland Perkele absolutely fails to measure up. 

The rest of the album ranges from boring to just awful. "Blood Is Thicker Than Water" is a mid-paced song that rips off a Samael riff, from Ceremony of Opposites. It's difficult to tell what they were attempting with this track, but if the black metal rasp was exchanged for clean vocals, it wouldn't seem out of place on some soft 'rock' album. "Quasb/The Burning" is another slower song that never manages to accomplish anything. It feels like they were trying to make something atmospheric, but they failed. Then there are goofy tracks like  "Steelvagina" and "Total War - Winter War". Pointless riffs, bad songwriting, stupid shouted vocal bits and excessive cursing... Maybe this appeals to immature teenagers, or the usual drunken metalhead stereotype, but this sure isn't what I look for in black metal.

This album is garbage, all in all. A few decent songs stand out from the rest, but are not worth the price of a CD, on their own. Impaled Nazarene was never particularly impressive, even among Finnish bands. Absolutely nothing they ever released could stand up to something like Beherit's Drawing Down the Moon, or the output of later bands like Horna and Clandestine Blaze. Suomi Finland Perkele is an incoherent mixture of styles that just couldn't be pulled off by the musicians involved. There's really nothing special about this band, but if you must give them a listen, go for the first two albums and avoid this. 

(3 Mar. 2009)

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