BLAKAGIR, Carpathian Art of Sin (2007, Pulverised)

The skull:
This is maybe my least favorite type of BDS, where someone at the last minute decided that the cover image just wasn’t gnarly enough on its own and so added a translucent skull to beef it up. Is this skull Carpathian? Is he artful? Sinful? Who could possibly guess? Probably the skull was a little more solid originally, but he caught a glimpse of Blakagir’s ridiculous logo, bristling as it is with olde tyme weapons, and he willed himself into transparency, hoping to escape altogether the shame of appearing on this meaningless cover. Too little, too late, Carpathian headbone! You belong to Blakagir, now!

The music:
I was fully expecting shitty black metal, because who else but a shitty black metal band would include “Carpathian” in their title? Plus, look at the logo. But, this isn’t black metal, or even metal at all; it’s basically an entire album of pretentious intro tracks: all pianos, synth strings, and spooky sound effects. In short, this is one of the most annoying albums I’ve ever listened to. It’s all the work of a single guy (surprise!) named L.O.N. (“Loves Orchestral Noodling”), who for some reason fronts several other one-man bands. Maybe his policy in those bands is to never start an album with a stupid intro, and this is his side project to get out all the awesome, stupid intro ideas he’s nevertheless come up with over the years. In a lot of ways, this is like Glenn Danzig’s Black Aria, a kind of pseudo-classical music project written by a guy who is far less accomplished as a composer than he surely believes. Also, this isn’t catchy in the dumb way Danzig’s magnum opus was, sometimes. It’s not that L.O.N. is a total incompetent; he seems to be a reasonably good piano player, and the occasional guitar work (mostly acoustic) is nice, but the guy has nothing of interest to say, musically. If any of these pieces appeared on a proper album, you’d skip every one of them. I suppose there’s something to be said for writing music that at least suggests there’s something better waiting in the next track, but that’s hardly a talent worth stretching to album length.
— Friar Johnsen


SOUTHERN FLAME, Whiskey Metal  (2007, self-released)

The skull:
Big ol’ skull looms over a rebel flag motif which itself is placed over a more distant photo of the woods. Everything is green (more the color of absinthe than whiskey) and the skull is stretch on the horizontal so that the dome of the skull is square and the eyes are so wide it almost appears as if the skull’s wearing sunglasses. A lame logo is stamped over the forehead. Ugly as hell cover art, but the skull certainly qualifies as “big” AND “dumb.”

The music:
Just looking at the band name, the album title and the cover artwork (and song title “Dang Doe Tango”), I figured this West Virginia band was going to sound a lot like Black Label Society. Sure enough, it does. Take the song “Dixie Metal.” Generic, mid-paced chunka-chunka riffs that have zero personality, with a vocalist that sounds like a totally drunk Phil Anselmo meets Zakk Wylde. It’s like the NOLA sludge sound infused with tons of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Just the kind of junk I will go out of my way to avoid, so…I’m outta here, I cannot take any more Southern Flame. I don’t like whiskey either.
— Friar Wagner