The Werewolves Of Venice/Godemiché – We Are The Light Of A Fullmoon

A rather strange, yet logical combination for a split: one band known pretty much exclusively as a support for another band, and the other as a sort of tribute to the underground black metal style as a whole. The Werewolves Of Venice and Godemiché come together for this split tape that is most certainly by and for pure members of the black metal underground; it’s obviously a very niche release, and it doesn’t try to be anything but. You could say that this tape is actually reflective of Godemiché’s early music as a whole: less musical, and more a sound-based tribute to the scene these artists know and love. It’s not music to be enjoyed as much as appreciated as a sort of pure representation of what the underground black metal scene is versus what its music represents. Abstract? Most certainly.

The essential claim to fame that The Werewolves Of Venice hold are as a supporting band to the infamous Velvet Cacoon. That band described The Werewolves Of Venice as a ‘very brutal style of black/death’. This isn’t quite what you hear at all on this split: instead, you get a sort of ambient black metal like early Darkthrone laced with a bit of Sort Vokter. Drums quickly throb and pulse in the background while tremolo riffs fill up most of the musical space. By far the greatest emphasis, though, is on the vocals: black metal rasps, death growls, clean choral work, and everything in between wax and wane, creating a ghostly cacophony of trance-inducing sound. The first track from this side is easily the most coherent and musical: the next two are more experimental, soaked in reverb and with either seemingly improvised percussion or none at all. The final track from the first band is also musical, but the production is even thinner, reducing the music to essentially a collection of primitive Norwegian black metal riffs and rasping vocals, driven by the steady pulse of a single bass drum underneath the rest of the instruments. This side as a whole makes me think of a European’s spin on the South American style of black metal: ultra-narrow song structures and brief compositions composed of almost a grindcore-limited palette of ideas, but with a certain romantic flair reminiscent of European black metal artists.

I suppose it’s not bad for what it is. The whole Velvet Cacoon issue is never far from my mind while listening to them: that link has probably damned The Werewolves Of Venice from ever being a band that isn’t in the shadow of that other band. It seems to have the same purpose as Godemiché’s first demo, but goes about it in a different way: while the first Godemiché demo eschewed atmosphere almost entirely, reducing the music to a seemingly unrelated collection of sounds, The Werewolves Of Venice instead try to do the opposite: eliminate the importance of individual sounds in favor of a pure atmosphere. It’s certainly different, but is it something I particularly enjoy? Not quite. It’s an interesting four tracks, but that’s really all they are: interesting, and without a real core of content behind them. Early Godemiché sounded like the band didn’t care because the actual content was of secondary importance: The Werewolves Of Venice don’t care simply because they don’t really care about any of it. I suppose that’s a certain aesthetic that I can respect, but it is about the music in the end, and as far as that goes, there just isn’t much there.

Godemiché’s side is similarly strange. It almost seems like they’re attempting to emulate the style of the previous band on this release, with tracks much more focused on atmosphere and with greatly de-emphasized riffs compared to their previous material. Drumming is now clearly machine-driven, but it makes little difference as Godemiché was never a band about drumming in the first place. Their style of riffing is still clearly present, though: handfuls of power chords assembled in a logical yet somewhat unpredictable fashion, singing out long strings of musical phrases of pure underground. Godemiché really is the current underground black metal scene in pure sonic form: it’s a hard thing to translate into words, but it’s clearly present in the music. The music here is possibly the most ‘traditional’ black metal that they’ve ever done: ‘Saverne’, aside from its unusual riffing, is a pretty pure black metal song, especially with its unusually high speed and aggression. It’s more brutal than Godemiché typically is, and while I can’t say it’s too reflective of the band’s typical style, it’s certainly good.

The four tracks here are a great deal longer than those on the first side, and seemingly more developed as well. Godemiché with every release seems to be moving from a completely strange, undying tribute band to a more ‘normal’ endeavor with very abnormal traits. The second demo showed Godemiché’s move towards a more musical and structural direction; the material on this split consolidates such a move with their most coherent works to date. It’s more atmospheric than anything before, as well as having a great deal more caring dedicated to its construction: notice the drum breaks in ‘Paliseul’ and its subtle meshing with the riffing. Vocals are more whispered and drier before; like The Werewolves Of Venice, they’re very ghostly and insubstantial, not quite the raw shrieks of previous material, but something more restrained and measured. And that perhaps defines Godemiché’s side of this split in general: more restrained, more measured, and more willing to hide its dark little lights under a bushel.

This tape is a curiosity. Curiosity is not a bad thing, of course, but the primary objective of this tape seems to be such a trait in and of itself. Godemiché’s side is, in my opinion, much better than the previous: it’s more substantial, has better songwriting and more ‘meat’, not just in running time, but in dedication and care as well. Side one is the more curious of the two; side two is the more coherent. Get it for the Godemiché tracks, presuming they like their style, and treat The Werewolves Of Venice’s tracks as what they are: odd, careless paeans to the perpetually moonlit underground.

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~ by noktorn on September 21, 2007.

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