Xasthur- Subliminal Genocide

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Monday, July 2, 2007

Listening to Subliminal Genocide by Xasthur in long doses can be an extremely difficult affair. The latest album from this one man black metal act is one of those releases that blur the lines between genres, bringing to mind genres such as trance and doom in addition to the usual black metal styles that fans expect. With extremely long songs, dark and suicidal lyrics, and an extremely lo-fi master job, Xasthur’s Subliminal Genocide is going to be a hard one for most to take in.

When I say that this release is hard to get into, I don’t mean it in the same way as groups such as Khlyst. There are no banshee vocals here, just somber and sometimes buzzing guitars along with the occasional shrieks from Malefic. The reason that this album will be hard for most listeners to take in is because of its atmosphere. Not only is Subliminal Genocide over an hour long, but it is dark and depressing music. Listening to this album for extended periods of time could actually have the ability to change one’s mood. Longtime fans will notice that Xasthur’s material now has a bit more of a down tempo doom feel to it, as many of the songs have extremely eerie instrumentals that continue on for long periods of time. The productions on this album are intentionally lo-fi giving everything a slightly washed out sound, but this only adds to the gloomy atmosphere.

Although they are not the central focus of the album (there are quite a few songs that have extended instrumental sections), the shrieking from Malefic fits in well with the rest of Xasthur’s music. Compared to many vocalists, Malefic’s shrieks are actually hard to interpret (particularly due to the production as well, which makes them sound a little distorted at times). The screaming on this album adds to the dark atmosphere, making it sound as though a deranged and suicidal mental patient is in an empty room yelling with an 8-track playing gloomy music in the background.

As lo-fi and depressing as it is, there’s no denying that Subliminal Genocide is interesting. With guitar lines that are nearly entrancing to the listener and vocals that almost don’t sound human, Xasthur’s latest release is definitely not ordinary. If there is one flaw though, it would be that Malefic has put out so much material in the past couple of years that some listeners may already be burnt out on the project. But if that’s not the case and you can stomach some extremely eerie and depressing music, Subliminal Genocide is an intriguing change from the usual black metal sound.


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