SKULL241

BLOOD THIRSTY DEMONS, Occultum Lapidem (2009, Black Funeral Promotions)

The skull:
It’s sort of surprising that there aren’t more metal covers like this: old, morbid paintings by the masters. This work is from a series of still lifes with skulls by the Flemish Adriaen van Utrecht (died 1652), any one of which would have made a fine low-budget album cover. Set amid a key, a compass, a candlestick holder, and a book, this skull obviously seeks knowledge, and perhaps foreshadows the ultimate end of all search. Or something like that. I’m sure Blood Thirsty Demons just tore it out of a textbook, begrudgingly admitting that there’s some cool shit in this stupid art history book their stupid teacher is making them carry around all fucking day, as if they don’t have a math book and that big ass geography book to deal with, too. Anyway, despite the evident and time-tested coolness of the painting, it bears little obvious relation to the title, which means “Hidden Stone” (famously the ending of the alchemical anagram VITRIOL “Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem,” which I don’t know but assume is the referent of that Absu album title), unless we’re to assume the manuscript contains transmutational formulae. And frankly, I think I’m already giving Blood Thirsty Demons too much credit. I think someone in the band found a neat old skull painting, and a mysterious-sounding latin phrase, and just jammed them together.

The music:
I was absolutely positive I would be sitting through yet another shitty bedroom black metal project when I queued this one up, but, much to my surprise and delight, what I got instead was a kind of mediocre Megadeth knockoff with a dash of Venom, which is to say midpaced thrash played a little sloppily but with heart. Bloody Thirsty Demons are presumably grown men, but they make music like a high school band. Each song has maybe four or five riffs, repeated endlessly, seemingly because no one in the group knows better than to do that. It’s not that the riffs are bad, because some of them are actually kind of catchy and fun, but they’re hardly so good to deserve as much love as they get in these arrangements. The vocals are almost comically bad, and by that I mean they’re literally bad in a funny way, as if singer Cristian Mustaine (a name too good to be true) is trying to make us laugh. His voice is pitched somewhere between Paul Baloff and Udo, but goofier than either (which is saying something.) The production isn’t half-bad, and the playing is acceptably good, but the amateurishness of the songwriting is sufficient to put me off on Blood Thirsty Demons. At least they aren’t the atrocity I was expecting.
— Friar Johnsen

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