Tangorodrim
"Justus Ex Fide Vivit"

(Southern Lord 2007)Tangorodrim - Justus Ex Fide Vivit

Let's face it: some music just does not appeal to anyone save for the most ardent of enthusiasts. A perfect example is black metal, which has about as much crossover appeal as my one-man psychedelic polka jug band. No, most music fans can't stomach the underproduction, raw guitars, and incomprehensible groans that that constitute a no-frills black metal album, which is exactly what we get out of "Justus Ex Fide Vivit," the fourth release from Israel's Tangorodrim. Hey, twenty bucks says their name comes from a Tolkien book...Google search...and...bingo!

The album starts off with a standard enough black metal galloper, but Tangorodrim quickly throw a curve with the shuddering, crust punk-infused "No Light." This influence pops up again, cracking the surface of the fetid lurch of the title track and driving closer "Without Eyes and Anything Above" until it winds down into a twisting, off-key burnout. Though it gives the songs it touches a distinct sameness, the punk influence goes a long way in breaking up what could have been a morass of filthy guitars and muddy drums. The vocals are of the atonal growl variety; guitarist/vocalist Larenuf sounds like he's on a half-hour mission to vomit out his spleen. He's also adopted a pet vocal tic that worms into his garbled lyrics ad nausaem. Tom G. Warrior has his famous "Ooh;" Larenuf opts for a grunt roughly analogous to the sound of a grown man in the throes of childbirth. His style will start to grate about halfway through, even on the battle-tested ears of a metal veteran.

Listening to "Justus Ex Fide Vivit," or any black metal record, it's really easy to pick out "flaws." The production is all over the place, ranging from moderately to decidedly shitty. The overall musicianship is far from the crispest you'll ever hear, especially the drums, which for half of the album teeter on the precipice of Out of Time Gorge. If this were say, death metal, where technical proficiency is valued over raw instinct and a DIY ethos, than these issues might be a problem. But this isn't, and they aren't. This isn't polished or pretty; this is a grimy, nasty, and surprisingly varied slog through black metal muck that will leave you wanting to take a shower. If you can stand listening to it, that is.

B+

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