Venus Star - Setyphorus
Ahdistuksen Aihio Productions
Black/Doom Metal
10 songs (34:16)
Release year: 2012
Ahdistuksen Aihio Productions
Reviewed by Charles
Venus Star’s sole member, Atvar is one of these ultra-prolific musicians that churns out releases almost as quickly as they start new projects. The man has expelled a great many noxious vapours into the gloomy half-light of the Finnish black metal scene to settle amidst its comfortable obscurity (Vordr and Rahu, to name but two of his more purist projects), but he has also experienced life at the slightly hipper edge of the metal world. He is one half of Circle of Ouroborus, whose Eleven Fingers was a weird, purposefully amateurish post-rock dreamfest that garnered critical acclaim but which is distinctively hard work to listen to. Venus Star,by contrast, is primitive and woebegone; a haphazard but deeply enjoyable cobbling-together of black and doom metals that makes for an esoteric gem.

Rather like a blackened cousin to the Undergang record I reviewed a couple of weeks back, Setyphorus luxuriates in extravagantly slow riffing, and this imputes a cavernous doom metal feel to the record. In this sense it might be closely compared to Welsh black/doom band Ghast. That sort of works as a reference point, particularly on tracks like the very downbeat closer Bloodbird which would fit nicely on May the Curse Bind. Except that this is even more primitive in delivery, and as indicated above makes far greater use of its perversely catchy slow riffing. Speech of the Desert God, for example, delves into the kind of grooves that bring to mind a sickly, pale ghost of Acid Witch. It has this deep, dark sway to it that conjures an overwhelming headbanging urge despite its blackened sour-facedness. The same could be said for any number of tracks here: The Vesica Tempest even features a hellish “oooooouurrghhhh!”, to suggest a latter-day Celtic Frost/Triptykon sensibility in its wanton groove-worship.

The black metal here is raw and barren. As might be expected from a black metal multi-instrumentalist, the guitar and drumming is rudimentary. Indeed, the latter is looped, which gives it a thudding, quasi-industrial feel reminiscent of Godflesh (e.g. On the Headless Cross). Vocals are rasping and horrible for the most part, but sometimes degenerate into high pitched howling as on Babalon Forest, lending an authentically deranged feel. The riffing itself is often simple and monochromatic, but can also constitute the album’s irresistible strongpoint. If you were to take the thudding third-gear black metal passages that make up much of this and you might feel underwhelmed, but the point of the album lies in its sublimely hostile slower tempos, and the addictive hooks that lurk therein. It’s an acquired taste, but if you can see the appeal of this kind of cultish knuckleheadedness, Setyphorus is unmissable.

Killing Songs :
On the Headless Cross, The Vesica Tempest, Speech of the Desert God
Charles quoted 88 / 100
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