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Sjodogg - "Landscapes Of Disease And Decadence" (CD)

Sjodogg - "Landscapes Of Disease And Decadence" CD cover image

"Landscapes Of Disease And Decadence" track listing:

1. Intro (3:54)
2. A Song of Plague (6:10)
3. Inglorious Fever of Antonius (5:18)
4. Mahapaatra (6:24)
5. Brethren of the Weeping Corpses (2:09)
6. Sequestra (6:54)
7. The Asphyxiation (6:20)
8. Sentinels of the Severed Flesh (0:24)
9. Sacrosanct (1:28)
10. Kiss of the Blowfly (6:32 )
11. Outro (0:45)

Reviewed by on August 18, 2010

"...it is all done very competently and the hypnotic nature of the music does work well."

Sjodogg, in some realm or another, is a band attempting to escape the monumental gravitational suck of the standard black metal fare. Comprised of members from Crest of Darkness, Enthral and ex-The Flesh, their debut full length is and rather pessimistically named “Landscapes of Disease and Decadence” is at least, a dark and dirgeful journey.

Rooted in the traditional style, "Landscapes Of Disease And Decadence" is a minimalist and repetition-based album strongly driving by prominent hypnotic drumming. The vocals are also in a way distinct and emotional, but in other ways reserved and in the "safe" field of traditional black/death metal. I can feel the aim of vocalist Vulnus is towards the pained screams of bands like Silencer or Bethlehem, but the dynamic range is much smaller.

Guitarist Dracunculus provides much less up front riffing than most bands, instead lurking and droning funereal tones in the background. Once in a while the band also locks up together to provide some classic structured death metal riffing, which brings some speed and aggression to the otherwise mesmerizing march. He also has a fantastic pseudonym if I may say so; there's only so many Goat Blasphemer's and Blood Perverter's you can handle before black metal pseudonyms start to all seem a little forced. However, once again, the original edge of the band is dulled by the familiarity of the riffs - Mayhem, Burzum, etc. It feels like not only have I been here before, but I could transplant this riff onto several other albums with no one any wiser to the switch. That said, it is all done very competently and the hypnotic nature of the music does work well.

The ambient tracks like "Brethren of the Weeping Corpses" and "Sentinels of the Severed Flesh" are there to provide breathers, but may as well be silent tracks filling up space, as they don't do any service to the musical concept. Remove these elements and the album starts to become more one dimensional; the drums and vocals are very clear, bass rarely heard and guitar droning in the background. If the band had really focused on bringing out the individuality of their original idea, this could have been an interesting album to place besides dark metal bands like Bethlehem. Unfortunately, as I sit back and reflect upon the album against greats such as "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas," I find it lacking in replay value and I think you may to.

Highs: Driving hypnotic drums, with competent black/death metal backup

Lows: Underneath the original elements lie the same black metal band you already know so well.

Bottom line: A competent first outing for Sjodogg, but one still struggling to excape the standard black metal vortex.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)