XASTHUR – All Reflections Drained (2009)

Xasthur - All Reflections Drained While I might hesitate a bit to call All Reflections Drained a black metal album (as labeling it as such would be disingenuous any way you slice it), I’d be lying if I said the temptation to do so wasn’t there. Xasthur (aka Malefic, aka Scott Conner) have, over the past eight years, been unyielding in the devotion to the purest tenets of black metal: murkiness and ambiguity masking visceral, raw power. Unlike many of their contemporaries, however, Xasthur have consistently manged to bring the most out of this template. Malefic’s music is ridden with a nebulous sterility, an atmosphere that would flatline an album of any other genre, but which here only makes the music all the more profoundly unnerving. With Darkthrone, sloppiness is absolute, existing across the board, but Malefic’s dark hymns are executed with remarkable precision; it’s only shroud around them that makes them vague. And that’s the secret as to why Xasthur work so well. But what would happen if you stripped most of that ominous black metal out of the equation, replacing the holes in the dark fog with bizarre samples and ambient textures? Well, you’d get All Reflections Drained, an album that’s almost too harrowing and bleakly minimal. Almost.

The title, All Reflections Drained, is an apt one; here, Malefic denies not only light, but also the possibility of the existence of light. Whereas previous albums are violent and rebellious, here, there is only an all-encompassing, irreversible stasis. Indeed, the album is the sound of the absence of pretty much everything. It’s haunting, otherworldly, and if you can stomach the totality of its musical nihilism, it’ll shake you to your core.

I hope I’ve hammered home that this isn’t a typical black metal album (significant, considering it’s coming from one of the few musicians capable of repeatedly rendering typical black metal albums). But in many ways, I think I prefer this over Defective Epitaph or Subliminal Genocide. All Reflections Drained takes the fringe nature of those albums and stretches them to the farthest extremes they can possibly go to. Is doing so commendable? Well, that’s up for debate, but there’s no denying that All Reflections Drained makes for one unsettling listening experience.

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One Response to “XASTHUR – All Reflections Drained (2009)”

  1. […] into the depths of black metal to find anything as comparably visceral and earsplitting violent (Xasthur’s Malefic comes to mind, off the top of my head). Now, The Blood Brothers may have parted ways in […]

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