Tangorodrim - Justus Ex Fide Vivit
Southern Lord by Keith Boyd 11.08.07
Black Metal from the Holy Land ! Sounds like some sort of oxymoronic doublespeak you say? Well gird your loins, grab your battleaxe and praise the Olden Gods because it's true folks. Tangorodrim are perhaps the only alcohol-fueled, Russian immigrant, Satanic Black Metal band from Israel . They've put out a few albums but this new one, along with their last; 'Unholy and Unlimited" (also on Southern Lord) have served as calling cards to the Metal world that they are a group to be reckoned with.
Black Metal is not usually a genre that rewards too much innovation. The fans tend to be looking for a certain something and any real deviation from that will not only earn their scorn, they will simply abandon a group as "sellouts". What is it about this music that makes it so insular and unforgiving? I blame the "cool hunters". As you may know Cool Hunters are folks hired by the mega-corporations and ad agencies to ferret out trends before they grow beyond the "Street" level. They cruise the streets of all major cities disguised as regular people and they infiltrate places where large groups gather. All the while they are observing, taking photos and generally absorbing any fashion quirks, music preferences and consumer behavior they witness. This is then reported back to Corporation X and before you know it every ad, MTV reality show personality and Hot Topics store is mirroring back the clothing, hair style and mannerisms that were only weeks ago unknown. This has been the way of our market system since there was one. It's not that industry hasn't always leeched off of our human culture to sell us back high priced versions of ourselves. It's more that now the game moves so quickly the lines between self-expression and commerce have been blurred to an almost non-existent point. Consider the "Faux-Hawk" hairdo. Is there any more surreal sign that marketing has made us all robots than this trend? It takes the old Punk Rock freak-out of shaving both sides of your head while leaving a spiky strip in the middle and basically defangs and declaws it. Although it has perhaps passed the all time high rate of appearance it had a year or two ago this signpost of ridiculousness can still be seen frequently. Now instead of topping the head of say Ryan Seacrest and Brad Pitt you'll see it on Kindergarteners and 1 st graders following behind Mom on the daily trip to the mall. Of course that's just an example but it serves to show the pattern. Some hipster somewhere tries out a strange new look. It gets snapped up by our corporate/government/religion, made "cool" by a handful of stars and then sold and trickled down through the youth market to land firmly in the sandbox set. Of course by that point the hipsters have all moved on but those new moves are entering the machine as well. What to do in the face of this? Most just buy in and ride out the trend wave with an eye towards the next. Eventually we all move beyond the demographic that matters and it starts all over with the next generation. Well the folks making and consuming Black Metal have I suppose the one loophole out of this. The music is so base, uncomfortable and unforgiving that it seems to be trend proof. Sure the hordes of acts that erupted from say 1989 through 1993 or so might give the appearance of a movement but that was simply the zeitgeist of Nordic scene. The unholy tendrils of Black Metal have since then crept around the world and in doing so have gleefully warped the minds of countless willing victims. Although its' pervasiveness has become apparent very few adaptations have arisen. The blast beat blur in which melody is subservient to rhythm is the dominant motif. There is also the shrieking deathgrunt of the vocalists. Production values are secondary to emotive intensity and the overarching mood is GRIM, GRIM, GRIM. A few super headstrong cases such as Xasthur, Crebain and Leviathan have managed to inject a symphonic structure at times but even these iconoclasts tend to keep it hard and loud. I guess you could say its bit of narrow-mindedness. Oh well, so be it. There's room for a lot of sound in this world and much like detective fiction or action/adventure movies Black Metal is a genre that succeeds not so much by innovation as by fulfilling the requirements in a bold fashion. If we can accept those criteria in regards to the genre then the new album by Tangorodrim is a stunning achievement.
Don't come looking for either technical virtuosity or production polish. You'll find neither and go away disappointed. What you get here is track after track of full speed ahead misanthropic metal. The six tracks on this disc are sure to burn holes in your speakers and ear drums. Stand out songs include; The Wolves Are Also Coming and Without Eyes And Anything Above. As they say in the Black Metal world this one is "For The True".