A Gate Through Bloodstained Mirrors

Hydra Head

A Gate Through Bloodstained Mirrors marked a crucial moment in the musical evolution of Scott “Malefic” Conner and his Xashthur project and US black metal in general. This release, originally issued in 2001 as a ridiculously limited CD-R run, marked the point at which Malefic divested himself of the annoyance of bandmates and collaborators and decided to go it alone. The music became much more personal, the tone more introspective and irrevocably downcast, the sonics discordant, avant and just plain wrong to the human ears. Of course, that’s where the genius of Xasthur lies, in the profusion of dirt, offal and human effluvia that encrusts every note, in instruments that are detuned and abused, in vocals that sound pained and wrenched forth from the intestines, the stomach, far deeper than the lungs or the deceitful mouth.

Bloodstained Mirrors sees Malefic following in the path of stubborn, driven peers and idols like Burzum, Leviathan and Quorthon — in parts overly so — in fashioning the constructs of black metal to his own will, as the unconscious influence of The Cure, Joy Division, Lycia and My Bloody Valentine began to seep into the cracks in the sound. The problem with this album is that since Xasthur is very much a work in progress at this point, the album lacks the fearsome verve of either Subliminal Genocide or Defective Epitaph, growing pains are ever-present and the album drags as the thirteen tracks on the album blend together into a monochromatic whole. It lacks the unhinged ferocity and total wrist-slashing insomniac despair that makes recent Xasthur albums such compelling listens. And there are not nearly enough of Malefic’s singular vocals. It is too cold, imperious and distant. In the album’s favor, this is still a herald of a potent sonic brew. Recommended for completists or those who can’t get enough of the black metal/shoegaze sound.

Hydra Head: www.hydrahead.com

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