Rigor Sardonicus – Principia Sardonica

Rigor Sardonicus is a ‘funeral doom’ band that doesn’t sound very much like funeral doom at all, at least if your mark of funeral doom is connected to Skepticism or Thergothon or even fucking Remembrance or Wormphlegm, because this really just sounds like Autopsy at one fifth speed more than anything else (but actually when you put one of their songs into Audacity and speed it up by like 300% it sounds like a Black Sabbath b-side for some reason, who knew).  The other weird part is that while Autopsy at one fifth speed sounds exactly like the sort of thing I would love, I find this sort of unappealing at the same time.

If you want a real understanding of Rigor Sardonicus’ sound, imagine some guys from a brutal death metal band are told what funeral doom sounds like without ever actually hearing the genre, and based off this description they decide to make a funeral doom band for laughs.  I don’t know if anyone actually takes them seriously or if people are just playing along, because the band themselves sure as hell aren’t.  If you were twelve years old and thought of what EEEEEEVIL music would sound like, Rigor Sardonicus is a result.  The music that Rigor Sardonicus makes it something that everyone’s thought about at one point or another but was never intended to, you know, actually be made.

I haven’t read many adequate descriptions of the general sound of Rigor Sardonicus, so here’s one; imagine old silent movie-era horror films’ soundtracks converted to insanely downtuned and distorted, sludgy guitar/bass lines (the instruments are indistinguishable), add extremely slow and sparse programmed drums (they are quite clearly programmed, not sure how you can miss it), and throw ridiculously pitch-shifted and growly vocals on top (they are quite clearly pitch-shifted, not sure how you can miss it), and that’s about it.  All the tracks are the same: sparse, repetitive, slow’n’low doomdeath massacres that take the concept of ‘bass’ to a whole new level.

This sounds more like slowed down death metal than anything else.  Really, really, really slowed down death metal.  A lot of the novelty of this music is really just about how stupidly extreme it is; it’s never low, slow, or brutal enough for the guys in Rigor Sardonicus, so they just take every concept to its natural endpoint.  It’s not very deep music at all.  It’s just a couple guys sitting around and saying ‘how ridiculous can we possibly make this music’, and it is sort of admirable in how stupidly single-minded and abrasive it is.  It’s useful for scaring people who don’t listen to metal.

I think it’s silly that people can mock grindcore for being supposedly nothing but mindless extremity for extremity’s sake and then turn around and uphold this as being something greater.  I think a lot of people believe that slowness equals subtlety on some level when it’s really just the other side of the same sinister coin.  On some level I’m not sure what to say about this album.  It’s fun on a primal level and makes you cackle with delight and clap your hands like a schoolgirl over how oppressive and evil it is, but it’s evil in a Halloween way, not an Autopsy way.  You can’t really take it seriously, and if you do, you really miss the point of this music.  It’s almost an elaborate parody of funeral doom, which is interesting because I didn’t know enough people cared about funeral doom to make a functional parody of it.

I would like Rigor Sardonicus more if I’d heard them before Wormphlegm, Bunkur, Planet AIDS, etc. (you know, the whole Comaworx crew (fuck Comaworx (I’m what they call ‘in the know’ and I feel it entitles me to free Stjin albums))).  If you liken exploring the extreme reaches of doom metal to an archaeological dig, Rigor Sardonicus is the backhoe that you use to initially ‘clear the path’ before using finer instruments for unveiling your big doomy dinosaur bones.  It’s the sort of band that’s good at showing just how far things can go, but aside from that they’re sort of a blunt instrument.  I bet they’re really sick live and I think there’s a lot of ways that this music is awesome, but I guess I’m sort of jaded on material like this.  It’s sort of a precursor to what bands like Bunkur would do in a more advanced form.  I think I would like this music better at a show with twenty people in the audience after which we’d get wasted with the band and listen to Obituary but that’s a hard experience to replicate at home.

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~ by noktorn on May 8, 2008.

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