Von – Satanic Blood

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Review by Jason Guest

Von Records

Infamy! Infamy! They’ve all got it infamy! If there’s one way that your band can gain notoriety, it’s if Varg Vikernes – yes, he with a fondness for matches, a not-unspoken distaste for Christianity, and one of the all-time howlers of justification for murder – wears your band’s t-shirt during his trial. Formed in 1987 and disbanding in 1992, San Francisco’s Von is one such band that has that dubious, erm, “honour”. Leaving behind them a legacy that has influenced countless bands, Von have since reformed and played the 2010 Armageddon Festival alongside the mighty Watain, a band that took their name from one of this band’s songs. And so with co-founder Goat no longer part of the band, mainman Venien has taken the helm as mouthpiece for this album of largely reworked material.

Opener ‘Jesus Stain’, a new track, sounds like it was written and recorded in the 90s, a simple yet dark melody coursing its wicked way through the entire track while Venien’s blasphemous vocals bark their savage bile. Then come three tracks from the band’s 1992 demo, ‘Devil Pig’, ‘Venien’, and the instrumental ‘VeadTuck’, all driven by a malicious melody with an incessant alarm-like drone, the intensity of the album increasing with every rhythmic repetition. The momentum ruthlessly grinds away throughout the album, each track’s menacing melody, incessant drumming, and Von’s vicious bark becoming increasingly ferocious until, slowly but oh so surely, the tracks start to resemble each other and the album soon sounds like one long, monotonous tirade. Where you’d think this would mean that interest would quickly wane, it’s the black metal minimalism that surges through the very veins of this album that grips the listener.

Lo-fi, cacophonous, relentless, and laced with all the fervent hate, ire and rancour of a Catholic priest, it’s easy to see why so many bands summon up Von as a key figure in early 90s black metal. But for those new to the music and to this band, it may not have the same kind of impact. New audiences have heard it, seen it, or read all about it and they aren’t phased by any of it any more. And only the most myopic and overzealous of religious bigots truly takes offence at this stuff anymore (and very much to the detriment of cultural and epistemological evolution). However, with record labels plunging ever deeper into the grim grottoes of metal for “hidden gems” and, presumably, an audience with a craving for all things authentic, original and kvlt, Satanic Blood’s release comes at the right time.

7 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. Jesus Stain
  2. Devil Pig
  3. Venien
  4. Release
  5. Veadtuck
  6. Vennt
  7. Evisc
  8. Goat Christ
  9. Dissection Inhuman
  10. Chalice Of Blood
  11. Blood Von
  12. Christ Fire
  13. Backsin
  14. Watain
  15. Blood Angel
  16. Lamb
  17. Satanic Blood
  18. Satan (Bonus CD Track)
  19. Litanies Of Von (Bonus CD Track)