Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Satanic Warmaster - Black Katharsis (2002)

Released on Northern Heritage in 2002, the Black Katharsis E.P. features nearly twenty minutes of raw Finnish Black Metal. This offering seems to be somewhat experimental, as the songwriting approach is very consistent and does not seem to possess many similar characteristics with either Strength & Honour or Opferblut. This is not the highpoint of Satanic Warmaster's discography, but it is not without its appeal.

"Remembrance of Times Forgotten" is the highlight of this brief recording. Upon first listen, the mournful tremolo riff and accompanying mid-paced drumming is reminiscent of Burzum, yet the actual guitar melody is of the sort that would go on to make up the bulk of the second Satanic Warmaster effort. It is very haunting and memorable, with a rather introspective and sorrowful quality. The reverb on the vocals adds an obscure quality, with Werwolf's voice reminding one of Ihsahn on Emperor's Wrath of the Tyrant. With such a primitive and stripped-down sound, this track would not have been out of place on some mid-'90s Black Metal record. "Cursed Emperor" has more of a harsh feeling, owing some inspiration to Moonblood. The somewhat eerie atmosphere present in the first part of the song is eliminated with the more upbeat riffs and drumming that emerge later on. "...Hiljaisuudesta" takes the rawness to its most extreme, for this recording, almost as if it came from a different session. It's rather aggressive and straightforward, with a part that is similar to something from Watain's first album, probably by coincidence.

All in all, Black Katharsis isn't a bad release, though it lacks a sense of unity and does not quite flow together well. Then again, the purpose of releasing these tracks in this format may have been simply to get them out of the way before moving on to write a more cohesive full-length album, which is precisely what Satanic Warmaster went on to do with Opferblut. While some of the ideas presented here are not so impressive, others are quite good and the first track, alone, is worth picking this up. It has since been re-released, so shouldn't be too difficult to find.