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"Firestarter" (Century Black)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

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Century Media's roster of black metal bands resides on their sister label Century Black.   Black metal takes the extreme brutality of death metal, lays a smooth path with an emphasis on keyboards, and contains lyrics that shade toward more dark and base subject matter.  The fifteen tracks on this compilation represent a wide variety of black metal within this narrow genre.

As always, I'll start with the above average material:

The orchestration of Emperor's "Thus Spake The Nightspirit" is remarkable in its ability to be furious and beautiful at the same time. Satyricon blasts through the diabolical "Forhekset" with emphasis and strength.  Borknagar tantalize the unspoken spirit of the dark in the soul with "The Dawn Of The End." The operatic vocals of "Wintery Grey," by the near legendary Arcturus, are soothing to the ear without losing its stormy atmosphere. Einherjer's pulsating "Naar Hammerem Heves" combine flowing keyboards, jagged riffs, and a multitude of vocal deliveries for a gratifying slice of demonic metal. Greece's Rotting Christ thrust the breakneck pace of "Coronation Of The Serpent" to entrancing heights. The blistering "Black Destiny" by Sacramentum is a satisfying chunk of speed-tinged black madness. Samael's "Black Trip," like the bastard spawn of black metal and hard rock, is a raging, head-banging journey into darkness.  Tiamat's "Ancient Entity" forgoes their atmospheric sound for straight forward churning guitar sounds with airy and winding leads. Opeth close the disc with "Nectar"; like all Opeth songs this track swaggers with confidence as it works its way through 10 minutes of interesting black metal that draws on a multitude of metallic influences.

This doesn't mean every track on the CD was impressive. Although the following tracks are somewhat excellent in their own right, they didn't connect with me in a way that the other tunes did:

Old Man's Child features a more thrash-oriented black metal approach with "Soul Possessed," but like most individual efforts something is lost when there aren't other humans to balance out the musical ideas. Katatonia's "Murder" seems a bit out of place which helps the overall variety on the disc, yet the production was numbingly flat. Opthalamia's "After A Releasing Death/Castle Of No Repair" staggers like a punch drunk boxer. Ulver's "Hymn 1" plays out more like typical death metal rather than black metal (not exactly what I want to hear on a black metal compilation); even the beautiful acoustic guitar within the song are not enough to save this tepid track. Even the highly esteemed Mayhem falter with their lackluster contribution called "Necrolust" - the fuzzy, static-laded production strikes me as second-rate noise rather than calculated chaos.

"Firestarter" earns three chainsaws because the stellar tunes outnumber the less-than-impressive tunes by a 2-to-1 margin. Overall, Century Media does a magnificent job in providing a great cross-section of their bands on compilations and this black metal sampler is no exception.

To learn more about the bands on this compilation CD, please visit Century Media's website at

Rating Guide:

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) A classic. This record will kick your ass.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) So-so. You've heard better.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

restinks.jpg (954 bytes) Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2002 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 12 Feb 2018 21:33:07 -0500.