Review by Jason Guest
Until recently, Von had all but become a spectral figure in the black metal pantheon whose post-mortem influence had become the stuff of legend. Since their split in 1992, numerous releases have surfaced (the number of releases being tantamount to the “taking the piss” mark) that proved to be inadequate enough for mainstay Venien to reform the band in 2010 and promptly re-record and re-issue the early material in October 2013 with a couple of new tracks in tow (Ed: Jason’s review of Satanic Blood is here). And so with co-conspirator Goat now long gone, Venien has moved Von on and delivered the first in his Dark Gods trilogy, Seven Billion Slaves.
With its lo-fi production, the trebly guitars have a rusted edge and the drums are more of a tinny suggestion than an outright statement, and so the dark, ominous, and bemired sound relies upon Von’s bass for the low end dirt. An album that may well rate high on the “kvlt” meter, Dark Gods: Seven Billion Slaves doesn’t break any new ground simply because it doesn’t seek to. But with the repetitive nature of each track and one track blurring into the next, the album becomes an endurance test at times. Combined with the lo-fi production and the grating sound of the guitars, the experience of the record is something that even the most kvlt of black metal devotees would find a chore.
Like the early material, the tracks here are largely minimalist in approach, the incessant repetition of a sinister riff or darkly melodic theme dominating each of the nine menacing compositions. While opener ‘They Have Come’ is a dark and brooding piece, its bulk looming like a black cloud consuming the earth from the horizon to the eye, the slow doom of the ten-minute ‘Ancient Flesh Of The Dark Gods’ drags the album deeper into the darkness with its majestic melody before the floodgates open and the savagery of ice cold, wrenching riffs gallop forth. With ‘Hands of Black Death’, Von tread further into the bleak, the desperate, and the primitive and by the time the title track comes around, it’s apparent that this the same Von of 1992’s Satanic Blood. From ‘MONSTER!’ onwards, this breaks little new ground. This is Von down to its blackened core. While it may feel dated, the sound of the album augments the hostile, caustic, and corrosive character of each track and the album is all the more minacious for it. Discomforting, challenging, and uncompromising, with this, the first part in the Dark Gods trilogy, this legion of the black light truly begin to carve their own giant.
7 out of 10
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- They Have Come
- Ancient Flesh Of The Dark Gods
- Hands Of Black Death
- Dark Gods
- Black Eyes