Jazkamer - Metal Music Machine (Smalltown Supernoise CD)
What was I just saying about the unholy alliance of noise and black metal? And along come Jazkamer (née Jazzkammer) to prove my point. Despite its title, "Metal Music Machine" owes a heck of a lot more to Bathory et al. than Lou Reed. And it's not just a skewering of the classic Reed LP's title for the sake of it - this really is metal music made by machines (in large part). Jazkamer usually function as the laptop duo of Norwegians John Hegre and Lasse Marhaug, but they've expanded into supergroup formation here with the addition of members from Toy, Manngard and Enslaved (!). I'm glad somebody not named Stephen O'Malley finally managed to wrangle a living, breathing black metal musician to guest on their record. This album (available in LP format as well) features some choice artwork from Savage Pencil, whose work you're familiar with from the Wire's Primer sections, among other things.
The album starts out strong with "Friends of Satan": a couple of cymbal-crashes and an immediately dense, pounding double-bass roll accompanied by chugging guitar. The 6-minute track gets harsher and more damaged as it wears on, eventually joined with some severely distorted/buried vocal utterings. Very similar to Birchville Cat Motel's "Our Love Will Destroy the World", albeit with even less shine n' glimmer and more blackness. In fact I can make another Campbell Kneale comparison with the following track "The Worms Will Get In", a 17-minute doom suite that draws easy comparisons to his Black Boned Angel project. However there's little else besides the dead strings hanging in the air between massive percussion crashes to hold your attention, and my patience was wearing thin before I even got halfway in.
"Abomination" is next and it's a legit black metal romp, something along the lines of Satyricon or Emperor with a bit of a Coil-esque/industrial whinge to it. The title track comes next and it's also a quick one, but making greater use of the cut-up laptop asthetic the duo are usually known for. It's essentially built around a rather manic drum solo that doesn't really sound like a machine, but who the heck can know for sure. Picture all classic BM sides in the blender at once with a healthy portion of Merzbow, Fe-mail, Daniel Menche and K.K. Null dumped in. Kind of a shame it only goes for 4 minutes because the album's final cut "Occult Glider" doesn't really do much for me. A less-interesting "metal" BCM track, this time replete with extended guitar drones, worked over until it starts to sound like that last Orthrelm record. The last couple of minutes are probably the best parts, heavy black winds blowing scant traces of Merzbow's "Turmeric" and Francisco Lopez at his busiest up my nostrils.
All that said, this isn't a bad records by any means, but it's not outstanding either. Jazkamer's take on the metal genre works best when they're actually dabbling within it ("Friends of Satan", "Abomination", "Metal Music Machine") rather than utilizing it as a means to reach an end to the other two longer, droned-out tracks (a technique which has been attempted and perfected by many other artists already ala Sunn, Khanate, Corrupted, Monarch, BBA + other related Battlecruiser artists, etc).