Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Antaeus - De Principii Evangelikum (2002)

Antaeus is a French band that seems to have managed quite a following in the Black Metal underground despite the fact that their music is clearly more in tune with so-called 'brutal' Death Metal. It is rather odd that so few appear to recognize this for what it is. Their second album, De Principii Evangelikum, was released in September 2002 and displays that the band learned absolutely nothing from the mistakes of their debut record and were perfectly content to continue down the same path of mediocrity. This album makes absolutely no improvements and also ignores the fact that other bands had already done this style of music much better ten to fifteen years earlier. All Antaeus manages to do is to play their music less skillfully and with less character than their predecessors.

Musically, there is not much to say about this abomination. For whatever odd reason, Antaeus continues the worship of all things percussive, on De Principii Evangelikum. Not only does the drumming drive the album forward much more than any of the riffs, but the drums are awkwardly high in the mix, as well. This shift toward a more percussive style is one of the things that killed off Death Metal, a couple decades ago. For a band that is so desperate to be embraced by the Black Metal scene, one would think that they would have realized that the guitar riffs are supposed to come first and to be the dominant aspect of any real Metal album. Even bands like Blasphemy, that had a lot of chaotic drumming going on, still had decent riffs. Antaeus lacks this quality. Though it seems they tried to get kind of a rough sound with this, it still comes off as entirely too modern and fake. The samples don't help matters, nor does the use of effects on the vocals. The songs are incredibly short, possibly to cover up the absence of creativity or song development. It also does not help that this album often lives up to the stereotype of every track sounding the same. It's just under half an hour of blasting drums, meaningless riffs in the background and generic vocals on top of it all.

The production, as mentioned before, tries to get an underground feeling with modern technology, it would appear. It does sound pretty horrible, just not in the right way. The guitars do not stand out, at all. This may be a good thing since the riffs are just filler so that the drummer can pound away in a militant fashion and the vocalist can try his best to sound evil while in actuality he comes off as generic and uninspired, just like the music. The drumming is far too high in the mix, while most of the rest kind of blends together in a muddy pool of filth. There are certainly albums out there that sound worse, but at least many of those exhibit some kind of depth to their material.

If you want something that is roughly in the vein of what Antaeus is trying to pull off, you are better off sticking with albums from Blasphemy, Beherit, Bestial Warlust and so on. At least those bands managed to sound dark and / or evil. The songwriting here is terribly weak, the execution is lackluster and the overall effect is one of boredom. De Principii Evangelikum is an album that is bereft of any positive qualities. Just to repeat, this is not Black Metal and should not be associated with Black Metal for any reason. Even getting past that for a moment and judging this as the monotonous Death Metal that it is, it still comes up short. It fails to create any sort of atmosphere, other than one of sleepiness. Avoid this album and forget that you even heard of this band.