Saturday, October 6, 2012

Impaled Nazarene - Tol Cormpt Norz Norz Norz (1992)

Finland is a country that has spawned some rather unique bands, over the years. In the early-to-mid '90s, there was a certain gloom that permeated most of the underground releases from this land. From the chaotic and evil Black Metal of Beherit and Archgoat to the epic and sombre Death Metal of Amorphis and Sentenced, on to the agonizing Funeral Doom of Thergothon and Skepticism, Finland was a breeding ground for dark music of all kinds. The debut record from Impaled Nazarene was no different. Following up on a handful of demos and an E.P. of terribly short length, these Finns came along in November 1992 to unleash something quite hellish and chaotic of their own.

Tol Cormpt Norz Norz Norz is a rather peculiar album. It features no less than seventeen tracks, giving it a very cluttered feel. Many of the ideas come off as unfinished and scattered, with only six songs of proper length. Several of the shorter tracks could have been incorporated into other songs, or merely left out entirely. Due to the weird composition of the album, this is definitely something that needs to be listened to all the way through to get the best impression. For example, listening to "Goat Perversion" without the following track, "The Forest (The Darkness)" will give a sense of incompleteness. Musically, this is a very intense record. Similarities can be drawn between this and the early works of Blasphemy and Beherit, with somewhat of a Death Metal influence present, at times. Of course, this part of their sound has greatly decreased since the earlier demos. Rather than showing too much influence from their Norwegian counterparts, this Finnish band injects a strong Punk Rock feeling in their songwriting, at times, particularly noticeable with the more upbeat drumming patterns. It is quite obvious that these guys have deep roots in the old school underground scene and this music does well to keep up the dark and brutal spirit of those that came before. Though a lot of people may get kind of lost with the various interludes and intros, as well as the sometimes monotonous song structures, it is clear that the guitar riffs are designed to create a dark and menacing atmosphere and Impaled Nazarene definitely succeeds in this department. While a lot of the guitar melodies may pass by you like a whirlwind, there are plenty of others that stand out and will remain in your head for a long time, luring you back for repeated listens.

For a Black Metal album from 1992, this has rather good sound. In effect, it possesses more of a typical Death Metal production, with thick guitars and powerful drums. The guitar tone is warm rather than cold, but it suits the hellish and claustrophobic vibe of the music. The drumming is at just the right level in the mix to retain its power and to help drive the songs forward with all of the intended aggression, yet not overpowering the rest as is the case with many other records. The vocals are high enough to be heard, despite the rather unclear and raspy style employed. Chances are, as this was fairly early on in the Second Wave movement, the idea of achieving a lo-fi and necro sound was not ingrained in the mind of the various bands yet. What you will hear in this case is a very clear sound, though still maintain a genuine feel and not straying into plastic territory.

Tol Cormpt Norz Norz Norz is a great album and belongs in the collection of anyone into early '90s Black Metal. This may not quite be on the level of A Blaze in the Northern Sky, but it comes very close and beats the hell out of a large percentage of the albums that were being released at the time. I feel somewhat robbed having been introduced to the band through albums like Suomi Finland Perkele, as the previous material is vastly superior and is actually rather impressive. Impaled Nazarene managed to take some influences and work them into a maniacal sound all their own, creating something blasphemous and dark that still holds up two decades later. This album may be a little difficult to wrap your head around, due to the structure and the inclusion of so many song fragments, but it is well worth the time and effort.