Monday, January 13, 2014


Seth - Era Decay
Avantgarde, 2004
Genre: Black Metal

1. Marchemergence
2. March of the Consistory
3. Umbilical Cutting
4. Co-Existent Species
5. Ascention
6. H-Eradicate
7. Xtasian Ostix
8. A Pallbearer's Gloom
9. The Blade Upon Mankind

Well it seems that every time I turn around this year I get blown away by yet another album.  This is how it has gone for me so far this year.  I buy Blut Aus Nord’s “The Work Which Transforms God” off of a whim and I am completely astounded to the nature of the creativity.  I purchase Deathspell Omega’s latest album “Si Monvmentvm Reqvires, Cirvmspice” because I liked what I heard on their demo.  The end results, is I hear a major contender for album of the year due to the immense creativity behind the music and lyrics.  Next in line to be released is the latest from Anorexia Nervosa, who changed their image and made their music all too compelling.  I had been anticipating another release from them, but I was surprised to see them improve.  Now most recently this brings me to what I’m writing about now... Seth. If you have not noticed a trend yet, I will point it out now.  All of the bands are from France.  Something happened this year in France where all their bands decided to release some of the best material this world could ever comprehend in one given year.

The most shocking thing about this is I was beginning to see Black Metal’s creative nature slow down in the Scandinavian countries.  Granted bands were still producing top quality material, but they haven’t been putting together material that I found inherently different or all that new to the scene. France picked up the ball this year and started releasing the next and much needed wake up call to Black Metal.  I honestly wasn’t expecting this, but France has changed a way in which I look at Black Metal.  I had accepted the fact that most bands would never be very well informed in terms of religion, but I’ll be damned, France with its incredibly rich religious history has fueled all these bands.  One of the more disappointing aspects in extreme metal is the inherently poor lyrics, but without a doubt France has produced some of the most intellectual conceptualizations of religion and philosophy I’ve seen outside of textbooks.  It truly must be a different culture over there.

Now, I enjoyed “Divine-X” quite a bit, but I would have never said Seth was a band to be reckoned with.  They were experimental in their own right, but they were missing something in their music in my opinion.  “Divine-X” was well composed, well thought out, the lyrics were marginally interesting.  Never, would I have expected Seth to become a top contender for best album in existence.  “Era-Decay” has piqued my interest to the point where I can ignore it no longer.  Granted Deathspell Omega has caught my eye more.  “Era-Decay” musically is by far one of the best things I have heard all year.  I am currently furious with France for producing so many possibilities for album of the year.  Especially from one country, that’s just too much to comprehend.  If you listen to one song off of this album make sure it is “Co-Existent Species,” possibly one of the finest Black Metal songs I have ever heard.  There is a section where the guitars play off of each other to create a dissonant, yet melodic passage.  This is only accounted for by their sheer brilliance.  The production is probably similar to that of “Divine-X,” but they actually use a lot of right/left speaker panning, which makes the songs interesting to listen to.  Sometimes it is very subtle and the listener is just impressed and proud of themselves for picking up on it.  One of the major things “Divine-X” was missing in its musical presentation was the sense of incredible power.  “Era-Decay” is performed with an incredibly powerful sound, it’s full and exacting.  It cuts right to the heart of the listeners being and leaves them desiring ever more.  I was disappointed when this album ended, for it is an incredible masterpiece to behold.  However, I would not want Seth to simply release a follow up album to this that is the same, I hope they continue to progress.  Though I love the style portrayed through this album.  There has also been an interesting line-up change on this album.  Their lead guitarist and vocalist Nacht who performed on “Divine-X” and albums prior to that has left the band.  Judging from what I hear on “Era-Decay” it is possibly one of the best moves Seth has made.  The new vocalist, Black Messiah, in my opinion is actually better than Nacht.  He has a much more powerful voice and appears to harbor more of a range.  Naccht’s replacement on guitar is also very suitable, for I can only hear good things coming from the guitars on this album.  However, the primary songwriter Heimoth is still with the band and he only improves as the years go on.  The drumming is just as exacting and interesting as that found on “Divine-X.”  However, I think as a writer Alsvid has become more refined for the drums flow much easier on “Era-Decay” and they were much more chaotic on “Divine-X.” “Divine-X” found Seth experimenting with keyboard elements and effects.  “Era-Decay” brings them further down that route; there are even instrumental tracks that are all strange keyboard effects.  This adds the technological feel to some of the tracks, but they are not used throughout the entire album because that would simply overwhelm the incredible guitar work.  This is not at all a keyboard driven album and it is by no means a blend of techno into their brilliant compositions.

The music has this incredibly powerful essence that gives the listener the feel that Seth is giving out commands rather than just playing a song.  Their message is also one to be heard, for their lyrics are quite well written.  The lyrics seem to deal quite a bit with genetics, or at least it is a recurring theme on this album.  I would venture to guess that this is probably due to the fact that the Human Genome Project has been finished.  This opens up a whole repertoire of material for extreme metal bands who know about the ethical issues surrounding engineering the human genome.  A major ethics issue comes in from a religious background.  There is even a French philosophy called Patrimoine Génétique that basically discusses how mankind was made in the image of God.  Therefore our genetic sequence and genome is that of God.  If one decides to tamper with the code then one is tampering with God and that is a very sacred element in terms of religion.  So God as the primary father of mankind would not want his image changed for it is a sacred gift to mankind.  Essentially God’s creation of the Genome could be considered heresy in some circles because the Genome is in a sense the essence of God on this earth.  Never mind my own personally knowledge of the fact that within all those A’s, C’s, G’s and T’s we are riddled with multifaceted replicating parasites and ridding the Genome of those may not be a bad thing, but ridding them could in turn create other complications with the human genetic code.  However, this is not one of my philosophy or ethics papers, so I will leave it at that.  “Era-Decay” is by no means a concept album in my opinion, which is something I find disappointing.  While some songs deal with the genetics of humanity, others deal with the existence of god and how we are all equal in the end no matter what god we worship.  “H-eradicate” I assume deals with the Hydrogen Bomb, since that makes the most sense in my mind, plus it discusses mass human destruction.  However, the topics are varying each song oozes with philosophical musings, which is something Seth has never really had in my opinion.  A type of drug was not even mentioned once on this album, which I respect quite a bit because on an earlier release they had a track entitled “Jesus Acid Christ” and in my opinion that is a preposterous philosophical analogy.  Maybe acid heads find it compelling and interesting, but I find it to be of below average education level.  Unless they are supposing the Bible was written by someone on “acid”...  Well, regardless today we have “Era-Decay” which is far superior in breadth and scope.

“Era-Decay” is surely a contender for album of the year, but I believe its lack of having an all encompassing concept is what will push it down from the podium. However, this album still receives a perfect score for its inherent perfection in all other aspects. Just when I thought I was going to be giving out a lot less tens this year, France had to come along and enter the market. Just when I thought I was becoming a much harsher and refined listener/reviewer France entered the market of Black Metal at full force. Alas, here are with some incredible music and yet another string of must have albums for this year. Enjoy.

Seth - By Fire, Power Shall Be...
AMSG Productions, 1997
Genre: Black Metal

1. Until the End
2. The Forest of the Damned (Forever Lost)
3. The Chimerical Quest

After hearing Seth's demo I don't think I would have ever imagined they would produce a recording like this. You really don't get the sense that their music is going to tend in this direction. Seth have returned with a new sound and even with a new logo. It seems none of the work on the rehearsal demo ever made it into the studio, which makes sense given how different the material sounds.

"By Fire, Power Shall Be..." is a recording soundly rooted in the sounds of Scandinavian bands, but this time around Seth evokes a far more epic and melancholic approach. All the tracks are over nine minutes in length and even include keyboard sections here and there for added emphasis. Finally Heimoth is able to record two guitar tracks and it really makes quite a big difference for the Seth sound. To top it off Foucon Noir's bass work is highly audible making for an excellent backdrop to the music. Seth sound very polished and experienced, which is shocking given that they're a rather young band at this time. However, they still haven't really hit that creative stage that truly separates them from other Black Metal bands that already exist. I get a sense of Dimmu Borgir, Old Man's Child, and Ulver from this recording. Keep in mind that this is with a 1996 reference and all those projects sounded very different back then, but they were no less extremely influential to the development of Black Metal as a whole. I feel that Seth is most similar to those bands because of how melodic and beautiful their music is presented. It's definitely not on the vicious or even extremely dark side. Instead Seth uses artful approaches with keyboards and acoustic passages to paint a beautiful picture for us. All around I found this EP fairly calming and beautiful.

Despite the fact that Seth is still re-inventing their sound, this is actually a really good album. Seth clearly show they are stellar musicians and beyond that excellent song crafters. I highly recommend checking this out and Seth is on my list of bands to watch for sure.

Seth - Apocalyptic Desires
Drakkar Productions, 1996
Genre: Black Metal

1. The Infinite Corridor
2. Darkness Remains
3. The Black Weapon
4. Apocalyptic Dreams
5. Until the End

Considering I've had this band discography for quite some time, I figured it was high time I start reviewing this given the fact they've returned in 2013 with a new album. This is Seth's original demo tape released through a young Drakkar Productions known for releasing very underground French projects. Seth is no different at this stage of their career. This demo is certainly limited to some number, but I'm not sure how many were made. I own #92, so maybe they pressed 100?

The early days of Seth were in the guise of a fairly raw and traditional sounding Black Metal band. The rawness is no doubt that this is a rehearsal recording according to the booklet recorded on the 27th and 28th of June. Naturally the mix is certainly suspect and it's not easy to hear everything through the incredibly raw recording. What I get out of  this is that Seth is clearly a skilled band with decent guitar work, but since this is a rehearsal there is only one guitar playing. One of the aspects of Seth that later became clear was how reliant on a second guitar their music was. The music is okay with a single guitar, but Heimoth's care with writing two guitar lines really made their music stand out a lot more. I think the French scene was still dealing with it's influences from the Scandinavian bands, so the demo doesn't sound too different. I think France's scene would develop more over the next few years and Seth would be a necessary band in that development, but during these times I feel like you either followed the twisted approach of the LLN or you followed in the footsteps of the founders of the genre. Seth is clearly following the Scandinavian approach, but I think they would eventually come into their own on future releases.

In the end their first foray into the scene is not too bad. I keep trying to remember the time frame in which this was released and thinking back to what it was like when I first heard Seth. I don't remember everything I heard and I don't think Seth was a band I immediately latched onto. It was only in later releases that I really felt Seth were doing something special. We'll see how it goes... I haven't analyzed their discography very deeply in a very long time.

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