October Music Series: Utuk Xul – The Ancient God of the Light

What I especially love about this song is the sustained, poor production quality noise. Utuk Xul, hailing from Cali, Colombia, are not a band to write home about, and The Goat of the Black Possession is not a particularly special album. One especially degrading review on Encyclopaedia Metallum gives it a lowly 25%, and I’m afraid there’s not much in the review that I can argue with. But what may well be entirely generic songs are masked by a really menacing and constant wall of sinister noise. The quality of the recording is spot on, whatever one might say about the song writing. On one hand “The Ancient God of Light (part II)” really captures the aural spirit of black metal. On the other hand it captures everything that’s especially cheesy about the genre it represents.

Kicking off with a liturgical ode to Satan, the album goes on to mimic every stereotype of the genre in fairly generic form. It’s impossible to tell whether the band is trying really, really hard to be evil or whether the whole thing is tongue-in-cheek a la Carpathian Forest, but unlike Carpathian Forest they lack the relative fame to make that distinction relevant. This song’s title refers to Lucifer–the band present themselves as devout Satanists of the literal Christian sort, not LaVey’s variety–and the lyrics are everything one could hope for in especially cheesy black metal: “Call the moon, Lucifer, the morbid star! The ancient god of the light, my force! Lucifer prince of the abyss! Morbid star, light of the abyss! The hell light of the storms!”, etc.

The one thing the 25% review got definitively wrong, I think, is in chastising them for buying into the Swedish scene he dubs “norsecore”. The term is an entirely appropriate insult for one of black metal’s weakest subgenres, but part of what makes most bands in the Swedish scene pretty bad is their refined recording quality; the blast beat ad nauseam routine isn’t an innately bad thing. On “The Ancient God of Light (part II)” (What became of “part I” is anyone’s guess. It doesn’t appear on this album.) I think Utuk Xul really nailed it. The atmospheric noise just screams evil here, and, moreso than other tracks on the album, this song is sufficiently devoid of attempts at song construction to function as one continuous, sustained explosion. I love it.

I actually find The Goat of the Black Possession as a whole fairly enjoyable for the same reason I like this song, but there might be a bit of nostalgia playing into that too. It was the product of one of my earliest completely arbitrary purchasing sprees in search of unknown black metal bands, and in 2003 I had a lot less to compare it to. “The Ancient God of Light (part II)” is the only track I’ll flaunt without reservations, but if you really enjoy its effects as a background piece then you probably won’t be disappointed by the rest.

Whether Utuk Xul really take themselves seriously is anyone’s guess, but intentionally or not they succeeded in producing one of the lamest photo shoots I have ever seen. Enjoy:

Horror Scenes I Love: Dawn of the Dead (dir. Zack Snyder)

Continuing our horror-theme for October the latest “Scenes I Love” entry comes from one of those hated remakes that was actually better than expected (and for some better than the original…yes, heresy). It’s from the excellent extended opening sequence for Zack Snyder’s remake of George A. Romero’s horror classic, Dawn of the Dead.

In most zombie films we never truly get to see the early hours of the zombie apocalypse from the ground. We always hear about it second-hand after it has already occurred. In Snyder’s remake we get to see it first-hand just as it’s flaring up to uncontrollable levels.

I’m a traditional Romero-type zombie enthusiast myself, but I must admit that Snyder’s choice to make the zombies in this remake runners does add a sense of the end-times as we see zombies after zombies running and gunning after neighbors who either don’t know what the hell just dropped in their neighborhood or just too slow to get away. Love how this sequence even has a shout-out to the original version with the traffic helicopter that flies in to give a bird’s-eye view of the whole apocalypse coming down on everyone.