Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Desaster


Desaster - Souls of Infernity
Iron Pegasus Records, 2001
Genre: Black/Thrash Metal

1. Souls of Infernity
2. Cross Me Fool (Razor Cover)
3. Sataniac  (Live)
4. Show Them How (Live)












It is with a truly heavy heart that I write this review. Big changes are coming in the Desaster camp and I can't see how any good will come of them. After a long and very prolific career as being the front man of the pre-eminent Black/Thrash band Okkulto has decided to leave the band. No explanation is given on this release it only states concerning the live tracks on side B "This was the 99th gig of Desaster and the final gig of vocalist Okkulto who left the band after they celebrated their biggest show (he says "eternal thanks to the faithful and loyal Fans and Maniacs")." Okkulto's voice is so patently unique that whoever Desaster find for a replacement will have some large shoes to fill. In same ways any change like this could be judged very harshly in the future and hopefully Desaster can figure something good out.

For now we have the final studio song produced with Okkulto called "Souls of Infernity" and it is rather in line with what we've heard on the amazing "The Tyrants of the Netherworld". He actually includes a lot of intense layering with some extremely deep vocals for him. It definitely leaves us with a different taste for his range. After the original song Desaster move onto a cover of Razor's "Cross Me Fool" with which they do an exceptional job. I was just mentioning to my girlfriend that if I went back and re-recorded a lot of the classic metal bands from the 80's with harsh Okkulto styled vocals I would probably enjoy it a lot, because the guitar work and music are spectacular. After this side B kicks in and we hear Okkulto's last vocal performance. Normally I would complain, but it seems appropriate for this... the vocals are WAY too high in the mix! I imagine this must have been a pretty incredible show to attend and the people there probably feel very lucky to have seen this final performance.

This is definitely a worthwhile collector's item to have, especially if you are a big fan of Okkulto's work and just want to have everything with his voice. There were 1,100 copies made, but in various installments, but all in 7" vinyl format. 100 copies were printed as a picture vinyl and hand-numbered, 200 were printed on red splatter, and 800 on black splatter. I have the red vinyl splatter, which wound up being a sort of fluke because I had ordered the black splatter thinking it would cost less... but I wound up with the red, which looks very awesome anyway and the one I would prefer to have. Ending the long running career on vinyl is perfect for Okkulto and I can only hope he hasn't left the music scene for good and I look forward to whatever he pursues next. As for Desaster... I'll have to wait and see what comes next.



Desaster - Tyrants of the Netherworld
Iron Pegasus Records, 2000
Genre: Black/Thrash Metal

1. Intro
2. Nekropolis Karthago
3. Victim of My Force
4. Profanation
5. Sworn to Avenge
6. Tyrants of the Netherworld
7. Call on the Beast
8. Battle Oath
9. Disciples of Darkness
10. Reign of Tyrants





A long career of playing some of the finest Black/Thrash Metal in existence has lead us to this monumental album. Some out there may disagree, but this is my all time personal favorite Desaster album. I have spoken to a few whom think "Hellfire's Dominion" is their best, but to me "Tyrants of the Netherworld" is the pinnacle of their career. Everyone is in truly rare form on this album and it is probably one of the best albums ever recorded. This is honestly my go-to album if someone asks me about Black/Thrash, there is literally nothing finer in my opinion.

As usual, I was expecting a good album from Desaster... but I really wasn't really prepared for the level of perfection Desaster was about to unleash for me. I really fell they truly outdid themselves and every song is so carefully written. I think they've really harnessed all the power they've manage to build from the prior material to really bring it into their finest form. This album starts off with the usual atmospheric keyboard intro before launching into the first track "Nekropolis Karthago" and we are off for the ride of our lives. Track after track on this album is simply one classic after another. Every riff is intoxicating and carefully written. We find Okkulto in rare form behind the microphone bringing a true voice to this album with his signature vocal style and I dare say this is one of his finest performances. I think the truly incredible thing is that there are no filler songs whatsoever at any point on this release. I do, sort of, wish there were some sections that had a bit more of a medieval theme, but the title track really fills that desire almost entirely! However, we finish the album off with the medieval instrumental "Reign of Tyrants" which is a very good song overall and a real solid closing to this album.

"Tyrants of the Netherworld" is one of those albums that is so good that I really can't think of the word to truly do it justice. If you know what Desaster sounds like from prior releases, then this is along the same lines, but everything is astoundingly more perfect than before. We didn't know we wanted it to be better, but Desaster delivered it anyway! This is truly the definitive Black/Thrash album by THE definitive Black/Thrash band. Bang or be banged! Buy or die!


Desaster - Ten Years of Total Desaster
Merciless Records, 1999
Genre: Black/Thrash Metal

Disc 1:
1. Intro (Decade of Desaster)
2. The Witches' Rune
3. Sataniac
4. Vengeance Knows No Bound
5. Medi-Evil Rites
6. Metalized  Blood
7. Past... Present... Forever...
8. Ride on for Revenge
9. Sacrilege

Disc 2:
1. Devil's Sword
2. The Hill of a Thousand Souls
3. Tears of an Old Wizard
4. As the Deadworld Calls
5. The Final Desaster
6. Witchcraft
7. Porter of Hellgate
8. Scream for Mercy
9. Evil Arschloch

It's hard to believe Desaster has been around for ten years already! It doesn't feel like "A Touch of Medieval Darkness" debuted very long ago... In any event Desaster celebrate their ten years by giving something special to the fans. This is a double vinyl set encompassing the years of Desaster's activity. Unfortunately, it's limited to only 2,000 copies. It comes with a beautiful booklet inside explaining where all the tracks come from, lyrics to the new songs, loads of pictures and on the very back is a historical biography of Desaster. It's really a great read for any big Desaster fan and you can see their perspective on the early days of the Metal scene in their area.

Now, this isn't just your run of the mill compilation vinyl that many bands create to produce one more release against their contract. No, Desaster have included four brand new tracks! The first side of the first disc is entirely new material for our ears! It's really great stuff with "The Witches' Rune" being the most standout track in my opinion. The fact that this celebration release has new material makes this absolutely worth getting. From the new material we delve into a smattering of tracks from Desaster over the years. There are a couple live tracks to show that Desaster is as great live as they are in the studio. This celebration brings us through all their prior releases taking a track or two from each and if you were unfortunate to miss their demo days then there are even tracks included from that era as well. One of the real gems are the last two tracks, which is demo material from 1989. This is the original incarnation of Desaster featuring the other founding member Creator Cassie, who has since left the band leaving the only founder Infernal still involved. These last two demo tracks have never before been released, so that makes this a very special release indeed.

This is probably one of the most worthwhile compilations I have ever purchased. Not only do we get over an hour of Desaster classics, we get new songs and never before released demo material! What more could a Desaster fan want to celebrate ten years? Desaster truly makes this stuff for their die-hard fans because on the back of the set it says "This black vinyl-jewel will never appear in fuckin' CD format! For vinyl-hunters only!!!" And this is one of the reasons I love Desaster, I think they truly appreciate their fanbase a lot and wanted to give them a really special release. I can't wait to hear the next full-length now!

Desaster - Hellfire's Dominion
Merciless Records, 1998
Genre: Black/Thrash Metal

1. Intro
2. In the Ban of Satan's Sorcery
3. Expect No Release
4. Teutonic Steel
5. Metalized Blood
6. Thou Shalt Be King
7. Hellfire's Dominion
8. Past... Present... Forever...
9. Castleland
10. Across the Bloodfields






After the monumental "Stormbringer" I was eager to hear a new Desaster album. The amount of material this band has been cranking out over the years is very impressive. Given the volume you would think the material quality would decrease, but that is hardly the case with Desaster. I think they just keep getting better and better.

"Hellfire's Dominion" lands a lot more strongly on the Thrash Metal side of things, but the infusion of Black Metal is certainly still there. "Metalized Blood" is basically a serious throwback song to the 80's days of Thrash Metal. It's definitely a sort of anthem song to metal... I just can't do the high pitched vocals of Toto. I've never been into those, so I'm a little biased. In some respects this song probably should have appeared as a sort of "bonus" song at the end of the album. It kind of breaks up the usual Desaster atmosphere, because sitting between "Teutonic Steel" and "Thou Shalt Be King" just feels weird! Other than that track, everything is standard form for Desaster. Intoxicating riffing that is both atmospheric and catchy all at the same time. "Teutonic Steel" and the title track are clear favorites of mine on this album.

"Hellfire's Dominion" strikes back with one of the strongest Desaster release yet and I do find it even better than "A Touch of Medieval Darkness" despite how classic the first release is. This is a clear must have if you are a fan of the Black/Thrash genre, for no one is doing it nearly as well as Desaster can!



Desaster - Ride on for Revenge
Merciless Records, 1998
Genre: Black/Thrash Metal

1. Ride on for Revenge
2. Burning Crosses














This is the beginning of a real solid year for Desaster and it all begins with these two songs! After the "Stormbringer" EP I was fiending for more Desaster and I am glad they were happy to deliver so soon. This vinyl 7" picture disc is limited to 1000 copies and the real great part about the release is the two tracks are exclusive! This makes it a must have.

So this is actually quite an interesting release. The first song we run into is "Ride on for Revenge" and this is the most Black Metal, I think, I have ever heard Desaster perform. It features intense blast beats and icy cold riffs. If Desaster ever switched over to exclusively playing Black Metal, they would actually make a fairly formidable band. There's pretty much nothing from their catchier Thrash side involved in this song. While I do miss that, they still wrote a solid song and this made me wonder what was in store for me on side B. "Burning Crosses", while having the total Black Metal title is one the Thrashiest songs Desaster has ever written. It's almost back to the old days when they were nearly only playing Thrash Metal. It's a really killer song regardless and it's one of those situations where you realize that if Desaster exclusive played Thrash they would be great at that too! So, I think we're actually quite lucky that Desaster has managed to blend the styles so perfectly on their albums.

I really love this release because it gives us an actual sense of the two paths Desaster could have taken, but instead decided to perform together. Definitely a worth while collectors item for Desaster maniacs and totally worth hearing in general.

Desaster - Stormbringer
Merciless Records, 1997
Genre: Black/Thrash Metal

1. Stormbringer
2. The Swords will Never Sink
3. Sacrilege
4. Face of Darkness
5. Tormentor (Kreator Cover)
6. Emerging Castleland








If you just couldn't wait for another touch of medieval darkness, well Desaster have returned the following year with this Ep. I remember getting this when it came out and this was actually my first experience with Desaster when I was still in high school. I've listened to this Ep over and over since then and I still love it today. I remember I used to go on road trips to Canada with my family and I would always insist on bringing the best of my CD's with me... see this was back before mp3 players existed and having a portable CD player instead of a cassette player was a pretty huge deal! Oh the days of the discman and the walkman... I went through them all! Anyway, I always made sure I had my Desaster albums with me, because travelling without Desaster is unthinkable for me, even today!

"Stormbringer" is the moment when Okkulto went after a new vocal approach and would forever turn Desaster with having a very signature vocal performance, as if their sound already wasn't unique enough. "A Touch of Medieval Darkness" had a bit more of a standard Black Metal vocal style, but on here Okkulto has a sort of strangely commanding rasp styled vocal. I think this further blends the Thrash/Black feel Desaster are very well known for. I think they were trying this out to see how successful it would be and that's why it first appears on an Ep.

Musically this is absolutely stellar material! From beginning till end every riff is intoxicating and perfect. I think there's an even heavier touch of the medieval approach on this, which gives "Stormbringer" a very special atmosphere even compared to the debut album. The only major complaint I can have about these songs is their length, they are far too short. This sort of cuts off the epic feel of the music, but I can understand if they extended the tracks then we'd basically just have another Desaster full length on our hands!

This is an absolute classic piece of metal history and I feel privileged to have heard of Desaster this early on in their career. I highly recommend checking out this Ep and Desaster show they are the absolute kings at this style of Metal. Now the hardest part... what track to sample below...


Desaster - A Touch of Medieval Darkness
Merciless Records, 1996
Genre: Black/Thrash Metal

1. Skyline in Flames (Intro)
2. In a Winter Battle
3. A Touch of Medieval Darkness
4. Fields of Triumph
5. Devil's Sword
6. Into a Magical Night
7. Crypt of Dracul
8. Visions in the Autumn Shades
9. Porter of Hellgate
10. Home for the Brave (Outro)





Here it is, finally Desaster's first full length and it does not disappoint! "A Touch of Medieval Darkness" is essentially everything I've been waiting for.  It's really interesting to note that Desaster was one of the first bands signed to the Merciless Records label and they would essentially grow with this label as both gained more renown in the scene.

The album title basically sums up the nature of this album perfectly.  Although I do find it curious that the band decided to open with a re-recorded demo song "In a Winter Battle", which was originally featured on the "Lost in Ages" demo. It is certainly a solid song, but it does sound a little basic given how overwhelming good the new material is.  The title track alone is essentially the signature sound Desaster would get really well known for. For some reason amidst their Black and Thrash Metal blend they really manage to evoke very clear images of a medieval era. Even Black Metal bands would struggle to get this image across to it's listeners, but Desaster seem to pull this off so effortlessly and they seem to have a wealth of this kind of material flowing from them. This is one of the aspects that really launched Desaster's career as well known and consistently solid Metal band. I honestly feel bad if someone claims to be a metal fan and has never heard of this incredible band.  They are literally my go to Black/Thrash band by which I judge all others.

In the end this is an extremely successful debut album from Desaster and it would swiftly become a legendary classic in the world of Metal today. They truly managed to create a timeless sound and that is why Desaster is my favorite of this brand of Metal. I enjoy bands like Aura Noir, certainly, but none of them have the prowess and intoxicating riffing that Desaster manage to bring album after album! Simply an incredible group.


Desaster & Ungod Split
Merciless Records, 1995
Genre: Black/Thrash Metal

Desaster:
1. The Hill of a Thousand Souls
Ungod:
2. Aeon of Sunless Dominion
3. Outro











Side Ungod: ...coming eventually...
Side Desaster:

After such a compelling demo, I am not surprised Desaster found themselves finally releasing material through a record label.  For their first foray in this venture, they've put one track towards a new split with Ungod. Unforutnately, I missed out on this split and buying a copy today is rather pricey, so I've had to resort to listening to mp3's found online.  Someday I may be able to buy my own copy, which I realize is probably strange given the fact I own both demos.

I'm not sure the mp3 rip is very good, because Desaster's music came out sounding very thin.  This is the first time I've ever heard Desaster sound this way and it doesn't even sound like that on the demo material.  Usually the band has quite a bit of punch to their sound.  That being said, the song is really well done. They've built on the song structuring they first developed in "Lost in Ages" and started writing even more intoxicating riffs.  The blend between the Thrash and Black Metal is much more fluid and they are really on their way to writing some truly classic albums in the future. There are sections of the songs that are downright haunting and I simply can't wait for a full-length from this project!


Desaster - Lost in Ages
Self-Released, 1994
Genre: Black/Thrash Metal

1. Hymn to Forgotten Lands
2. In a Winter Battle
3. Tears of an Old Wizard
4. Lost in the Ages
5. As the Deadworld Calls
6. Leaving the Hall of Kings










Here it is, the moment I've been waiting for in Desaster's career.  This is where the notion of Black/Thrash really started to rear it's ugly head upon the world.  There were only a few bands toying with this genre around this time, one of the more notable being Aura Noir, whom would go on to release such great albums as "Black Thrash Attack" and "Deep Tracts of Hell".  For me, though, Desaster is the band that would hold an even more special place in my heart.  Where Aura Noir focused on the fast paced grit of Thrash Metal, Desaster infused a lot more of the atmospheric and epic elements of Black Metal into their style.  Then to top off this incredible fusion, they blended in some beautiful medieval styled guitar passages that brought a whole new dimension to their sound.

Beginning with a haunting intro "Hymn to Forgotten Lands" sets the stage for the type of atmosphere we are expected to encounter.  It comes across as ancient, but has a modern keyboard feel, along with some cheesy aspects.  However, the metal Desaster would launch into with "In a Winter Battle" is anything but cheesy.  Here we would find an incredibly well written piece that really shows the band has matured in it's writing since "The Fog of Avalon".  The band moves away from the early Hellhammer influence, and instead seems to draw more from the early Norwegian Black Metal bands.  There are even riffs that could easily be found on any Black Metal album with the fast tremelo picking of chords, which is a staple of the genre.  However, it wouldn't be until we got to "Tears of an Old Wizard" that we would see that they were fusing even more new content together.  Amidst riffs that are distinctly Thrash Metal, there is also an injection of a very medieval sounding passage.  Rather than the Viking elements incorporated in the Norwegian scene or Bathory's music, we get a very regional difference in the music here.  This blends into the music so well and gives such an epic presentation that it launches the musics quality to near "Blood Fire Death" realms.  In fact I feel Desaster would eventually reach such heights with "Tyrants of the Netherworld", but for now we see how their well crafted songs are beginning.

Okkulto's vocal performance is another notable change.  Here is where we start to hear Okkulto using his more well known vocal approach.  His vocals still land more on the side of Black Metal, but he would eventually have a very unique voice in this world in successive albums.  Members have even adopted wearing corpse paint in the band photos, showing even more clearly their alliance with the Scandinavian genre.

"Lost in the Ages" is one of the most important genre defining demos of the time frame.  Having this historic landmark in my collection means a lot to me.  If you're fan of this type of material, I highly recommend you seek out and hear this demo.  Due to it's popularity it should be easy to find in terms of hearing the music.



Desaster - The Fog of Avalon
Self-Released, 1993
Genre: Thrash Metal

1. Twilight (Intro)
2. The Final Desaster
3. And the Powers Above
4. Face of Darkness
5. Into a Magical Night
6. Northern Breeze
7. Witchcraft
8. Dawn (Outro)
9. Countess Bathory (Venom Cover)







There are few things out there that hold truly legendary status, but I think many would agree that Desaster hold such a timeless status with the music they created.  Their original demos are highly sought after collectors items today and they have risen to legendary status over the years.  The demo comes on a dubbed cassette with a home made cover, which seems upside down in the packaging.  There is also an extra sheet of paper that was hand written/put together and xeroxed.  This piece of paper is very special and inside prints a photo and a brief bio of the band:

"The history of Desaster began in 1988 when Infernal Kusch and Creator Cassie decided to create their own sound influenced by Venom and Hellhammer then recorded two demos (which were never published) and played one live gig before Creator Cassie went his own way in 1990.

But Infernal Kusch kept the cult of Desaster alive.  "Witchcraft", which was originally named "Hexenkessel" is a song of this time.

Since 1992 the chaos goes on with the present formation. "The Fog of Avalon" is the first recording of the new line-up and it is just the beginning.  A single and more live gigs are planned."

I think the bio is leads us into a good discussion of the music.  "The Fog of Avalon", in my opinion, is such an early work that Desaster had yet to really infuse that atmosphere of Black Metal into their sound.  Instead you can hear the influences of the early German Thrash bands along with Bathory, Venom, and Hellhammer.  The songwriting is fairly primitive and it really hasn't developed into the complex structure we would later hear from this project.  The songs are actually often slow and plodding rather than fast and raging.  There are some songs that have fast parts, but for the most part the demo plods along.  I will say it does tend to sound different from the other bands at this time for 1993 and Desaster really hasn't developed into that unique medieval sound just yet.  The other aspect of the music I found very interesting is Okkulto's vocals for this demo.  He really has a very stand-out and signature vocal approach in the later albums, but on this one he uses a very standard vocal approach.  It's more of a higher-range rasp that you would expect to find on Black Metal albums and feels influenced by what Quorthon was doing vocally on the early Bathory albums.

This being a demo from 1993, I'm sure people are wondering how the production came across.  It's surprisingly quite good.  You can hear everything fairly well, the vocals are a little behind the mix from time to time, but that's the only real issue.  The recording has a very raw edge to it, naturally, but that really works in these songs favor.

This is by far one of the more interesting pieces in my collection and I feel very lucky to have it.  Desaster would later form albums that I mark as some of my all time favorites.  They would really influence the creation of a new area in the genre and write songs similar to Moonblood with a medieval infusion, but both bands working towards very different sounds.  This is definitely a piece of history I recommend people experience!


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