“…The problem is you view everything from your reclusive sit-in-a-room-and-comment perspective, and don’t take into account scene-specific demographics and also the need for bands to keep a certain type of sound alive…. Genocide Shrines very successfully channels the sound of bands like demo-era Beherit, Teitanblood, Archgoat, Wrathprayer and Proclamation and has combined it with occult and native sensibilities in a fantastic manner…Such music is wholly aesthetic-driven, so looking for technical precision in the riffs is just not getting the point, these supposedly linear riffs successfully establish the atmospheres trying to be made.”
The above comment was made by a reader of the review of Genocide Shrines’ debut EP published on these pages not so long ago.
There are some fundamental observations to be made on the historical performance or reenactment, as it were, which bands like Genocide Shrines and Pseudogod practice, of what is an essentially minimalist style of extreme black/death metal as first played by Beherit and Blasphemy:
- Historically accurate homages as new bands deem them can still only ever be modernist reinterpretations of the originals. This applies to all metal but more severely so to bands like Genocide Shrines toiling in their restrictive template of choice. When we talk of the spirit of old bands, it is, among other things, a metaphor for the conditions and the surroundings and the time in which they created their music. This includes much under the umbrella of human experience, aspects ranging from the cultural to the technological to the individual, all specific to that particular pocket of time that the original individuals occupied and their very personal idiosyncrasies that led to the making of their brand of music. A new band can get an old sound right but it can only ever fall short of achieving the true spirit of that old sound, in all that it entails.
- The harsh minimalism of Beherit and Blasphemy was a rebellious act of intent for its time, erupting as a reaction to an emergent solitary superpower hegemony and the rapid advent of crass commercialism and cultural assimilation that followed in its wake. Genocide Shrines come from a war-ravaged nation and have a legitimate case for being pissed off but it can’t be denied that there also is a ready market in place today for the music that they make.
- The style that Genocide Shrines currently play is far too strait-jacketed for it to become anything but redundant after its earliest excursions. Every attentive listener should ask himself whether it is possible for a band of this style to revivify itself on future efforts, and to break out of its tight, self-imposed paradigm that is almost sadomasochistically tyrannical in nature.
None of this means that Genocide Shrines are an insincere band, just an underdeveloped, unoriginal one. This full length sees attempts at creating a more expansive, almost trance-like fabric than was heard on the EP, chiefly through the use of droning sections, both slow and fast, and the most tentative of explorations of a “brighter” sound. The limited arsenal of chord shapes and notes and cookie-cutter tremolo progressions available at the band’s disposal, however, soon render this budding ambitiousness tedious.
The reader above mentions a particular “aesthetic” that Genocide Shrines strive for; as far as can be made out, Manipura Imperial Deathevokovil has a consistently oppressive atmosphere generated out of a heavy production awash in reverb and low-end that drowns out all but the most obvious of riffs. But only the most credulous ear can begin to suggest that this music communicates an “aesthetic” beyond frivolous surface claustrophobia.
Dialogue between the reams of atonal material found here remains somewhat rough-hewn and simplistic, and song scaffolding, though improved, is yet to assume a natural strength and unity of structure. As a result, Manipura Imperial Deathevokovil conveys little of substance as “absolute death metal” goes and has to seek recourse to various atmospheric asides to overcome its musical shortcomings.