Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Maniac Butcher - Lučan-Antikrist (1996)

Released in 1996, Lučan-Antikrist is the second full-length album from the Czech Black Metal band Maniac Butcher. Anyone familiar with these guys should know what to expect, as there are never any surprises from them. However, if you are new to Maniac Butcher and ran screaming (or laughing) when you saw the cover art, one can only insist that you do not judge this by the horrible aesthetics. While they have been responsible for some of the most ridiculous album covers in Black Metal history, they know how to deliver when it gets down to the music, which is the most important thing.

Regarding the songwriting, this continues on from where Barbarians left off. It is not the most original work in existence, nor does it have to be. What one can expect to hear on this record is solid mid-90s Black Metal with a lot of influence from the north, especially with the dominance of cold tremolo riffs. The guitar melodies of "Zrada" are ice-cold and enough to freeze you even on a warm day. Most of the songs are rather fast-paced, particularly the guitars. The drumming is a bit too varied for my taste, with a frequent double-bass that sometimes drives the songs forward, rather than primitive blasting. As well, there seem to be less of the solo work that was present on Barbarians, removing one of the more positive elements of their sound. The vocals are very strained and most of the lines drag out across the riffs, quite a bit. His voice has a lot of desperation to it, at times, and the fact that the lyrics are in Czech adds a different dimension to the music. Not nearly as known as they should be, Maniac Butcher was one of the bands that did a good job in keeping a more pure style of Black Metal alive during a time when so many bands were experimenting and turning against what this music was supposed to be. The riffs are as intense as the vocals, something that is often missed by some bands. They go for the basic style without putting forth any intensity. "Lučané" is a good example of this, and even includes an eerie solo bit. The cold and gloomy atmosphere that is present, such as during the slower parts of "Poslední Bitva", is a direct contrast to the hordes of idiots that were abusing synth to a criminal degree, or those that were mixing in other forms of music that had no place being associated with this.

The production is fairly strong and not as hollow as on the previous effort. Compared to some albums of the time period, it might be considered somewhat clean, in a sense. This is definitely more comparable to Marduk's Those of the Unlight, as opposed to an album like Under A Funeral Moon. The guitars possess a cold sound that suits the music well. The drums are a weak point, with sometimes-clicky double-bass that is more distracting that anything. Otherwise, the mix is pretty good and the focus remains on the melodies and the vocals, more or less.

Lučan-Antikrist is a really solid record and is recommended for anyone into mid-90s Black Metal. There are a couple of weak spots, but nothing bad. It does somewhat work against the album that the hidden bonus track (a cover of the Master's Hammer song "Jáma Pekel") outshines some of the original material. Overall, this is very much worth listening to. If you have never heard Maniac Butcher, this is as good of a place to start as any.