Sunday, December 23, 2012

Maniac Butcher

Maniac Butcher - Barbarians
Pussy God Records, 1995
 Genre: Black Metal

1. Barbarians
2. Catheclasm
3. Svatý Otec
4. Peklo
5. Druhé Stvoření
6. Mesiášův Konec
7. Barbarians (Open Hell, 17/09/99)

Maniac Butcher is one of the earliest Black Metal bands from the Czech Republic. They’ve since gone on to enjoy legendary status in the 21st century.  I think their releases are sought after a lot more now that a new generation of Black Metal fans has arisen where being “kvlt” is more important than producing quality material.  So a lot of bands that had fairly limited pressings of their albums from the mid-90’s are not resurfacing.  I had heard of Maniac Butcher in the 90’s, but I never purchased their albums until recently.  At that time I was still in high school and my purchasing was focused more on other areas of Black Metal, namely what Norway and Sweden were producing.  As my budget grew I was able to track down and acquire some bands that I simply missed out on during that era.  So now I have been able to acquire basically the entire Maniac Butcher discography, except for a few splits here and there.

Maniac Butcher plays a raw and harsh form of Black Metal that has very little deviation.  This is sort of the style of music Norway and Sweden were spitting out in the mid-90’s and Germany was starting to follow in that vein.  The Czech Republic being in rather close proximity to Germany makes me unsurprised to see a band like Maniac Butcher pop up at this time.  “Barbarians” is their debut full length and it’s actually a very solid Black Metal release.  I would say it definitely has Darkthrone influences in there, like most bands do.  I would say they also have some older influences like Bathory, maybe Hellhammer and bands of that nature.  I think this would later get termed as Chainsaw Black Metal because the band really is just sawing away on the guitars.  For it’s time this is very well done and a lot of bands later adopted this kind of a general style of Black Metal.  Basically this is what many people specifically think of when they hear the term “Black Metal”.

The lyrics aren’t anything exemplary, as English is clearly not this bands first language.  Some are sung in the native language and it may have proven wise to just sing the whole album in Czech.  Not that the lyrical content really takes away from the listen since Barbarud is very hard to understand even while singing.  One thing I find amusing about Maniac Butcher is the album covers.  They just look so goofy to me.  Maybe it’s the way the band presents themselves or the overly dramatic poses or picture concepts, either way it just look hilarious.  This obviously isn’t the original pressing of “Barbarians,” since I had mentioned previously that I did not get these when they were released, instead I got the newer edition and it features a slipcase.  It also contains live tracks that are actually fairly well recorded, much to my surprise.

Ultimately this band maintains legendary status and looking back to the time this was recorded I can see why they got some recognition for their performance.  They are one of the earliest Czech Black Metal bands and I can see why they are well respected by their country-men as well as the rest of the world.  “Barbarians” is a very solid debut recording for 1995 and Maniac Butcher is considered to be on top of their game.

Maniac Butcher & Dark Storm - Black Horns of Saaz
View Beyond Records, 1995
Genre: Black Metal

Maniac Butcher:
1. Barbarians
Dark Storm:
2. War
3. Victory

Side Dark Storm: here
Side Maniac Butcher:

I missed out on the split released prior to this with a multitude of other bands. In fact I missed out on this original pressing and I have the 2003 re-release picture 7". The original release was limited to 766 copies and the picture variant is limited to 100 copies. There is no hand-numbering on the newer release, I'm not sure about the original, but both are on View Beyond Records.

After two demos of mostly Death Metal, Maniac Butcher has changed styles drastically. I'm not sure what the two songs on the split I'm missing sound like, but the song on this split is ultra thinned out vicious Black Metal through and through. Frankly Maniac Butcher are far better at playing this than Death Metal, so I'm looking forward to their next release for sure! Even though they have some of the goofiest imagery, even more so than Immortal, the music is actually pretty good. This also features a newer vocalist in Barbarud Hrom and he fits with the project very well. The music is extremely primitive, but it has a certain atmosphere that just works really well for it and I think it's great. A lot of people will probably find it to be generic or samey, but something about the way these Czech guys saw away at their guitars just works for me. If the next album is in similar fashion to this, then it's going to be quite good.

Maniac Butcher - The Incapable Carrion
Pussy God Records, 1994
Genre: Death Metal

1. Ježíš Kristus
2. Úpis Bohu
3. Šíření Víry
4. Procitnutí v Smrti
5. Svatá Válka
6. Stvoření

After a lackluster first demo I wasn’t sure what to expect from Maniac Butcher’s “The Incapable Carrion”. They still haven’t switched over to Black Metal yet and this is clearly more of a Death Metal release. However, I am happy to report that the Death Metal is at least a lot more interesting this time around. I found "Immortal Death" relatively boring and it got a little too tedious over time.

For a band whose name would become legend in Black Metal, they wrote some pretty good old Death Metal. This makes me think of the fledgling Swedish scene whenever I hear this demo, which is a far cry from "Immortal Death". I don’t think Maniac Butcher is bringing us anything new to that style, since the Swedes did this to “death”, but it was nice to see Maniac Butcher can write descent music. Even on “Sireny Viry” I am reminded a little bit of what Morgoth would write and this was pretty great to hear! It’s a very epic track too clocking in at over seven minutes. A lot of their tracks are like this and there is only one song that I thought was pretty boring, “Procitnuti v Smrti.” I just felt like that song plodded along too slowly and didn’t really go anywhere. Luckily the following two tracks salvaged the rest of the demo for me.
The production this time around is very good. The guitars are very thick and heavy, which is perfect for this style. Everything seems to be mixed quite well and we can hear everything that needs to be heard. The first demo wasn’t very poorly produced either, so I was sort of expecting the production on this to be fairly decent overall.

They really went all out with the booklet for this demo. It has a lot of panels and is double sided. Inside we find the lyrics and they’ve also gone through the effort of printing English translations, probably so everyone can read and understand their blasphemous message against Christ. One thing I found interesting was the band photo features the band with face paint, but I don’t think they’re drawing this from Black Metal yet. Instead this is probably from the earlier Thrash bands that used face paint sometimes. However, Vald also has a spiked bracer, which is every bit a Black Metal thing, so I’m not entirely sure what image Maniac Butcher was trying to put forth. There is a piece of the booklet that folds over the tape and on the inside of this is one of the most baffling things I believe I’ve ever seen. Behold this sort of “comic” about Jesus and Mary:

This is, honestly, one of the most baffling things I’ve ever seen. I get the impression it was written by a bunch of sixteen year old boys trying to be super evil and offensive.  The dialog is absolutely hilarious though.  “I will be soon” is just priceless!

Ultimately this was actually a fairly good demo.  Since it was originally recorded in 1991, it was probably a fairly relevant release for its time. However, I don’t think it really went anywhere beyond the Czech Republic much. Had Maniac Butcher gone on to be a force in Death Metal, they probably would have been highly recognized for this demo, but since they switched to Black Metal, I think “The Incapable Carrion” became a sort of lost curiosity in the bands history.

Maniac Butcher - Immortal Death
Pussy God Records, 1993
Genre: Death Metal

1.Dva Tisíce Let
2.Nesmrtelná Smrt
3.Boj Církve S Vírou
4.Církevní Vraždy I
5.Církevní Vraždy II
7.Víra V Boha
8.Jedenáctý Klíč

Maniac Butcher would eventually grow into a fairly well known band, but for now we look at their origins.  This is the first demo from this band and like a lot of Black Metal bands Maniac Butcher got started in the realms of Death Metal.  For a demo this old the production actually isn't that bad, so that was a nice surprise when I put this on.

This isn't blisteringly fast or particularly brutal Death Metal, it is actually fairly slow and plodding Death Metal. The songwriting is fairly simplistic, but not so basic that the demo is rendered terrible.  I would actually compare this to what Grave was doing around this time.  However, I think Grave managed to do it a little better.  The song "Desatero" is probably one of the best on the demo, because it starts off with the bass guitar kicking off a good groove.  It is difficult to look back on this and say "clearly Maniac Butcher would trend towards Black Metal", because I don't get the impression that would be true after hearing this.  I imagine that whenever Maniac Butcher transitioned to Black Metal it was a shock to everyone who had heard this release.

Rüd Borglund, who would later change his named to Barbarud Hrom, did a vocal performance that fit the music well.  The problem here is that the music is fairly typical and thus the vocal performance is standard form for Death Metal.  I suppose this type of material is impressive to hear out of the Czech Republic this far back, but I am unfortunately biased after hearing so much music by 2013.  Trying to think back, this is probably quite good by 1993 standards.

I was lucky enough to snag a copy of this, but the production being this good, I am not sure I got a knock off.  The booklet seems legitimate enough though.  I think this demo proves that Maniac Butcher had the ability to put together some solid music.  At the end of the day this is still a very solid demo and pretty impressive for the year it was released.  I love hearing a bands origins even if I do not like their early material.  While Maniac Butcher was much better as a Black Metal band, they still put out some fairly decent Death Metal.

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