Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Judas Iscariot - Distant in Solitary Night (1998)

The fourth full-length album from Judas Iscariot, Distant in Solitary Night, is considered by many to be the pinnacle of the band's career. In actuality, that distinction probably belongs to this record's predecessor, Of Great Eternity. That one was the first to finally focus on Black Metal, rather than allowing a decent handful of Death Metal riffs to infiltrate the work. While not all that great, it was also much more consistent than the albums before and after it. The playing was a bit more competent as well. This makes sense, as Distant in Solitary Night was originally recorded in 1996 and intended to be the band's third album. Since Judas Iscariot had already released two albums that year, Moribund Records delayed the release of this one until June 1998. As such, the playing is a little sloppier and the songwriting is rather poor. It just goes to show that, when it comes to something that pathetic as the bulk of American Black Metal, it does not take much to impress people.

The album begins with "The Wind Stands Silent", sticking with Akhenaten's traditional approach of clumsily ripping off Transilvanian Hunger. One would think that after spending several years attempting to imitate this sound that he would have gotten better at it. Sadly, this is not the case. This song consists of mediocre tremolo-picked riffs, inadequate drumming that does not do well to maintain a steady pace and vocals that seem somewhat disconnected from the music. This track does not accomplish anything, for the most part. It is flat and uninspiring.

"Where the Winter Beats Incessant" displays a horrible drum beat that sounds about as non-Metal as it gets. Otherwise, this is yet another failed experiment to capture an atmosphere similar to the old Burzum albums, utilizing some of the same types of riffs. However, the dominant guitar melodies are completely different and have very little to do with anything regarding Black Metal. The transitions between the different riffs are horrible or simply non-existent, as Akhenaten stumbles from one idea to the next, with no real sense of direction. This is one of the worst songs that this guy has ever recorded.

The next song returns to an earlier mistake of falling back on Death Metal riffs. "The Black Clouds Roll Under the Parapet of the Sky" is a clear indication that Akhenaten had no ability to discern between Black and Death Metal. This is a fast-paced track, for the most part, until the latter half. The song concludes following a handful of generic riffs that go nowhere.

"The Clear Moon, and the Glory of the Darkness" comes off as a really terrible effort to create a song like Burzum's "Naar Himmelen Klarner", from Det Som Engang Var. It is an instrumental that features boring guitar melodies, accompanied by synth, that serves no real purpose and fails to evoke any real feeling. The best that it can manage is to make listeners go listen to old Burzum, in order to see how it is supposed to be done. The drums are totally absent from this track, thankfully, but Akhenaten is unable to keep his mouth shut for the entire thing, overcome by the urge to cry near the end. Perhaps, he was weeping because the utter uselessness of his life was becoming apparent.

This is followed by a short track, "To the Black Tower of Victory", which speeds things back up and returns to the standard Judas Iscariot formula for bad Darkthrone imitations. The riffs sound as if they have been heard before, and probably done far better the first time around. This really lacks any character of its own.

"In the Bliss of the Eternal Valleys of Hate" is a weird song that employs a bit of old school drumming, though Akhenaten is so inept that he can hardly pull it off. It is unfortunate that he could not see that his low level of musicianship was even worse than his pathetic songwriting abilities. The song speeds up, later on, though it lacks any sense of intensity since the drumming is inconsistent and the guitar playing is sloppy as well. This really is a mess and it would be quite sad if anyone ever heard this and thought it was representative of Black Metal.

The final song is "Portions of Eternity Too Great for the Eye of Man". What a pretentious title. Even worse, this is not even a real song. It is twelve minutes of filler, just to pad the total running time of the album. It is an outro that just keeps going and going, with random noises and some guy speaking nonsense.

Distant in Solitary Night is trash. There was no need to release this as a full album, other than to try to cash in on the band's minimal popularity among those in the underground with bad taste. "The Winds Stand Silent" was already released on the Arise, My Lord E.P. in 1996. As painfully generic as that song is, the rest of the material here ranks even lower and there is no justifiable reason to pollute record stores with filth such as this. Avoid at all costs.