Ever since audio was captured by technology, innovators have attempted to improve on that initial miracle.
From the phonograph all the way up to digital audio, the pursuit for a cleaner sound has driven audiophiles every step of the way.
So why would anyone want to make their recording deliberately awful sounding? The answer to that question could be in a burning Korean black metal track entitled “Satanic War Metal,” brought to us by a band called Nocturnal Damnation.
This group makes defiantly traditional black metal, a genre that often prizes a so-called “lo-fi” recording quality.
“Satanic War Metal” exemplifies the “lo-fi” aesthetic, and even benefits from its trappings.
“Satanic War Metal” is off the Seoul-based band’s debut recording, 2011’s “Sadogoat Warmageddon Command” demo tape.
And if you think this group has a way with names and titles, you barely know the half of it.
Nocturnal Damnation has had only one consistent member, and he goes by the pseudonym Bestial Desecrator of Sexual Fornications and Goetic Ritual.
Let’s call him Bestial Desecrator for short.
Does this seem at least a little absurd so far? It should, and that’s by design.
The intense aggression and cartoonish imagery of Nocturnal Damnation appears to strive for a place beyond over the top, attempting to give off an impression of only the most extreme emotions or qualities.
The sound of the music itself speaks to these extremes.
Compared to the slick recordings of, for example, South Korean thrash band Crash, “Satanic War Metal” sounds obscured and “wrong.” It doesn’t sound like a “good” recording.
However, for many, that’s part of its appeal.
Listening to “Satanic War Metal,” one wonders what sort of hell this sound had to travel through in order to get to our ears.
Today, most music being made never escapes its digital form from creation to dissemination.
By contrast, this music was only released in cassette form, and it shows: it’s fuzzy and compressed, but in an oddly welcoming way.
This “lo-fi” quality also speaks to extremes.
It gives the listener pause; what sort of monsters are so desperate to record this music that they couldn’t even spring for some decent equipment? The music seems to announce, “Bestial Desecrator had no use for fancy computers.” No, he needed to get this expression of pure evil (or whatever) out of his system, and if he only had a crappy boombox on which to spill his Satanic bile, so be it.
No, he needed to get this expression of pure evil (or whatever) out of his system, and if he only had a crappy boombox on which to spill his Satanic bile, so be it.
The music seems to announce, “Bestial Desecrator had no use for fancy computers.” No, he needed to get this expression of pure evil (or whatever) out of his system, and if he only had a crappy boombox on which to spill his Satanic bile, so be it.
Or so he’d like us to believe.
It doesn’t really matter, of course.
It could’ve been recorded in a wonderfully clean studio with a variety of herbal teas at the ready, and then carefully subjected to digital audio processes to “mess it up.” To this listener, that simply wouldn’t ring true.
This music sounds raw and analog.
Its lo-fi “cred” is legit to my ears.
The riffs and drumming benefit enormously from the lo-fi treatment.
The blastbeat coming from the rhythm section becomes a tidal wash of cymbal and snare attacks, becoming much more compelling and varied than it would’ve been had it been recorded cleanly.
The guitars are given similar shape and texture.
Bestial Desecrator may be Nocturnal Damnation’s creative driver, but he’s not even an instrumentalist.
However, this is totally moot.
His vocals are absolutely arresting, a genuinely gripping growl that further legitimizes his band’s insistence on authentically sinister intentions.
In a recent interview , Bestial Desecrator illuminated his audience regarding his lyrical proclivities.
“These themes come from my own beliefs, ideology and experiences, basically from my life,” he said.
“I’m very influenced by desecration, evil, war, the occult, European demonology, black magic, Satanic ritual.” Whether the artist is being truthful here or it is simply a wry put on, all of this dancing with the devil is irrelevant.
For one thing, the Nocturnal Damnation frontman’s lyrics are highly unintelligible.
Second of all, all of this is pretty much par for the course for rhetoric to coming from a black metal band.
Fans of this music can either get off on the orgy or evil or simply enjoy this music for its aesthetic qualities of aggression, extremity and lo-fi craft.
I fall squarely into the latter category.
Satanists, please forgive me.
Check out Nocturnal Damnation’s “Satanic War Metal” RIGHT HERE Jeff Tobias is a composer, writer and multi-instrumentalist currently living in Brooklyn, New York.
As of late he has been learning to speak Spanish and trying to find a good Indian restaurant.