FRONT BEAST / MEPHISTO, In League With Evil Metal (2006, Iron Tyrant)
A couple centuries from now, when Big Dumb Skulls – The Big Dumb Coffee Table Book has replaced the Bible as the best-selling book of all time, children will ask their parents and grandparents things like “What was the first big dumb skull ever in the world?,” “Why does Proclamation like horns so much?,” and “What’s your favorite dumb skull, daddy?” It’s likely many of the queried elders will answer of the latter question, “Why, Timmy, I do believe the Front Beast / Mephisto split was the very epitome of the Big Dumb Skull cover: chains, horns, fangs, barbed wire, the Iron Cross. Had it all. Ne’er was a finer one, I’d say.” To which Timmy would reply, “Daddy, what’s a ‘front beast?’”
Front Beast is terrible. One-man band basement black metal with super-sloppy drumming, crappy riffs, and vocals that make that guy from Switzerland’s Messiah sound like Tony Harnell. This latter element has a weird sort of appeal, but only for a minute or so. They do a cover of Burzum’s “Ea, Lord of the Depths,” which completely lacks the haunting, spectral vibe of the original. It’s obvious this guy took his band’s name from an early, non-album Destruction song because he prefers to think of himself as pretty obscure – I’m also sure this dude is one of those types that thinks Destruction sold out with Infernal Overkill. Mephisto is also terrible. It’s one thing to be raw, feral, primal and all that, but quite another to attempt a spooky melodic intro as in “Fullmoon Damnation” and have the guitars be so wildly out of tune that you’re almost embarrassed for the boys. The drumming is borderline competent, and the vocals are the usual Angelripper-meets-Quorthon sort of deal. It’s all ham-fisted as hell, like early Tiamat playing early Sodom songs while wearing oven mitts. There’s a fine line between audacious primitivism and just plain underwhelming crud like Mephisto.
— Friar Wagner