Review by Felix on June 1, 2021.
Osmose Records once was a guarantor for highly exciting, really groundbreaking black metal. Immortal, Impaled Nazarene, Master's Hammer, Marduk... do you need more legendary names that indicate the importance of this idiosyncratic French company back in the nineties? Tsatthoggua was one of their lesser known signings and I don't want to blame my German fellows, but it did not come as a surprise that Hosanna Bizarre and its successor failed to have a great impact. Come closer, because I can only whisper the following, slightly embarrassing sentence. Shush! The guys were prone to cheap showmanship.
Yes, the drums of 'Niemals Geboren' - to pick out one single piece arbitrarily - deliver hyper-speed hammering, but this does not mean that they score with a massive sound. Tsatthoggua walks the fine line between somehow expressionist black metal and grindcore-esque eruption. The entire album is noisy and slightly molesting while suffering from stupid intermezzos (heavy breathing under a gas mask...) at the same time. Doubtlessly, the will to create total chaos is at the expense of the atmosphere. Only keyboard lines occasionally create ambiance - but black metal needs a higher quantum of atmosphere. Otherwise it feels like a Napalm Death song without these mentally disturbed pig squeals: maybe acceptable, but not the real thing. Yet these guys wanted to shock, regardless of the consequences. An affinity for provocation motivated the dudes, just have a look at the pretty shitty artwork. (By the way, why is your ear so close to my mouth? Please keep the proper distance or do you think I whisper?)
It's sad, but what needs to be said is that the song-writing talent of the horde remained modest. They had many ideas, but they were not really able to put them together in a clever manner. Many tunes suffer from a wild yet incoherent mix. They are simply too erratic. The title track begins with a great riff, simple but clearly defined and powerful. Yet the longer the song lasts, the more crude parts and abrupt breaks show up. At the end, one is confronted with a torn number which has its charm due to some nice details (a short spooky staccato of the keyboards leaves its mark), but more experienced musicians would have found a better format for this conglomerate of blast beats, hysterical, shrill screams, violent guitars and brief melodic throw-ins. It's obvious: Tsatthoggua intended to define a new degree of extremity, but they were just loud, blatantly gimmicky, slightly moronic and stubborn while setting the wrong focus. Hosanna Bizarre has its moments, but instead of creating the best possible compositions, the dudes loved to offer primitive shock effects for the devout grandma or the uptight Babbit next door. Some sections are really fascinating, for example the first metallic part of 'Worm Of Sin'. But after all, an overloaded, relatively nonsensical chunk of metal remains. The boundaries between the single pieces become blurred and only chaos remains.
Of course, catchiness is no essential element for this kind of music, but I wish I could say that there are at least a few catchy parts. Far from it. Tsatthoggua integrate eerie sequences, female voices, malignant nagging and their guitar lines are influenced by Swedish death metal from time to time (listen to the closer in this context), but they simply forgot that it is not forbidden to write some fragments which keep sticking in the listener's mind. The four musicians don't play "all against all", nevertheless, a coherent overall picture does not arise. Hosanna Bizarre, whose production reaches a solid level, is therefore a record with some light, but with a lot of shadows as well. And it is definitely not breathtaking. One can breathe deeply and naturally when listening to this extrovert and partially childish debut. And this is the case even when wearing a gasmask.
Rating: 6 out of 1037