Hellig Usvart

Australia Country of Origin: Australia

Hellig Usvart
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Type: Full-Length
Release Date: 1994
Genre: Black
1. A Church Bell Tolls Amidst the Frozen Nordic Winds
2. Blasphemous Abomination of the Satanic Pentagram
3. Behold, the Rising of the Scarlet Moon
4. Thine Hour Hast Come
5. Release and Clothe the Virgin Sacrifice
6. Drink from the Chalice of Blood
7. Silence the Blasphemous Chanting
8. Invert the Inverted Cross
9. An Abandoned Grave Bathes Softly in the Falling Moonlight
10. Crush the Bloodied Horns of the Goat
11. Weak, Feeble, Dying, Antichrist
12. The Day Of Total Armageddon Holocaust

Review by Maverick on February 3, 2024.

Horde is a band that should be credit on basis on its ideologically crazy motive, to take an essentially anti-religious genre and turn it into an expression of deep spiritual reflection and so on. From the onset, I have had a complicated relationship with Mortification's Jayson Sherlock. Considering the fact that he was the guy behind this album, I can only say that I am impressed. I'll start from the onset and say that the extreme metal scene has changed because of Horde. It is indeed something new and whatnot. A lot of ink has been spilled in the name of dismissing what this band gave birth to, either dismissing it as compromising with secularists to considering this brand of music as "wanna-be". I will provide my own take on this:

First, let's talk about the album cover and name. The name is "Hellig Usvart" which means "holy unblack". Sherlock sought to invert Darkthrone's "Unholy Black Metal" from the "Under a Funeral Moon" album. This reeks of a gimmick, I honestly think that there could have been another way to identify this album. The album has a very black metal-esque type picture of a cemetery, which is probably appropriate since it makes the album look more eery and cryptic.

Second, let's look at the instrumental part of this album. The guitar riffs on this album are reminiscent of the raw production quality one finds on early Norwegian black metal albums. It sounds a lot like what one would expect from Darkthrone. I must say this track "Blasphemous Abomination Of The Satanic Pentagram" sounds very noisy, raw, and distorted riffs that sound like your typical black metal noise mashup. The rhythm riffs on "Thy Hour Has Come" and "Invert the Inverted Cross" are quite standard in their time signatures, but they provide a good background sound to the ominous distortions. Songs like "An Abandoned Grave Bathes Softly In The Falling Moonlight" start with pretty morbid combinations that frequent between black-noise syncopations, that turn into psychedelic-rock and heavy metal riffing that is slowly played at a brilliant pace with the vocals and drumming. Another thing that is quite good about this album is the utilization of lead metal riffing which has enough distortion to permeate the album, the notes linger long enough to blend and immerse the listener into an ice-cold experience of blackened metal atmosphere. The guitar work on "Drink from the Chalice of Blood" was the star of the album for me personally, with metal tremolo and ominous riffing. I'll say this again, it's very obvious that Darkthrone is an influence here.

Third, the drumming isn't that special in terms of black metal. This is pretty much a standard type black (or "blackened") metal album. You know blast beats and thrashy drum-pummelling. There isn't really much to say about it, except that it does what one would expect in a black metal album. The star drumming of the album is probably in "Silence The Blasphemous Chanting" and "Invert the Inverted Cross", but then again I cannot say that any particular song is bad, on the contrary.

Finally, the thing that sort of ruins this album for me is the fact that the only thing new about the album at the time of release is the lyrical content -- that is really it. This is okay I suppose, but it sets the stage for later unblack releases. I really enjoyed this album, and if you're open to listening to something new and enjoy black metal -- by all means listen to this.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10


Review by TheOneNeverSeen on February 3, 2024.

I've first come across this band while looking for good Christian metal (I'm Christian and so at some point I decided I know too few (to be honest, zero) Christian metal bands). Obviously, Horde is the first band one learns about when it comes to the term "unblack metal". Since I enjoy quite a few black metal bands, even the supposedly "bad" and "Satanic" ones, I've decided to check "Hellig usvart" out. And I was not disappointed.

The best part of this album is the riffs and the drumming. The former are solid at least ("Behold, the Rising of the Scarlet Moon", "Silence the Blasphemous Chanting") and great at most ("Thine Hour Hast Come", "Invert the Inverted Cross", "Drink from the Chalice of Blood"). The riffs don't move away a lot from the traditions of black metal (although the "Drink from the Chalice of Blood" one reminded me of Lifelover's "Myspys"). The album is diverse enough in terms of atmosphere and pace of individual songs, meaning it has both short, energetic bangers ("Invert the Inverted Cross", "The Day of Total Armageddon Holocaust") and longer songs written in rather atmospheric black metal style ("Release and Clothe the Virgin Sacrifice", "An Abandoned Grave Bathes Softly in the Falling Moonlight"). The quality of drumming is understandable considering Sherlock is mostly renowned for his work as Mortification's drummer. The album is not overwhelmed with generic blast beats or primitive kick-snare-kick sort of drumming that are both common for black metal. Instead, Jayson alters his drumming depending on the song, which also adds to the album’s variety.

The buzzy guitar tone (that changes to a sharper or a smoother one sporadically) reminds me of early Darkthrone, while the vocals are inconsistent and change from song to song. Sometimes Jayson offers the listener his impeccable shrieking, whereas sometimes his vocals are lower and "calmer" ("Behold, the Rising of the Scarlet Moon", "Drink from the Chalice of Blood"). Personally, I enjoyed both styles, although I would argue the latter is a bit faint compared to the former.

Consistency-wise, the album is awesome. There are a few tracks that I didn't enjoy as much ("Crush the Bloodied Horns of the Goat", "Weak, Feeble, Dying, Antichrist") and one that I found a bit too blurry and chaotic ("Blasphemous Abomination of the Satanic Pentagram"), but they don’t ruin the album considering the quality of the rest of the songs. The atmosphere isn’t exceptionally dark, but is nonetheless pleasing and varies from fun ("Invert the Inverted Cross") to mysterious ("Release and Clothe the Virgin Sacrifice"). The only song that stands out in that sense would probably be "Weak, Feeble, Dying, Antichrist". Most memorable moments in terms of mood would include the symphonic-like vocals in "Release and Clothe the Virgin Sacrifice", which, despite not being stunning, fit the song perfectly.

The lyrics are pretty good and either mingle traditional grim black metal atmosphere with Christian imagery, which is quite interesting, or straightaway ridicule the genre’s traditional Satanism in tracks like "Crush the Bloodied Horns of the Goat". My personal favorites lyric-wise would be the simple yet remarkable "Invert the Inverted Cross" and "Release and Clothe the Virgin Sacrifice".

Finally, I need to say something regarding the reason I’ve learned about the album in the first place. As someone who appreciates irony and satire, I’m quite pleased by the rabid hysteria this album has incited in the black metal community (specifically, the br00tal fans that take it way too seriously). And although music should solely be judged by its musical qualities and this album is no exception, I think this tide of anger and threats was beneficial in a way, since it attracted more people to this excellent work.

Rating: 9 out of 10