I found out about Swedish black-thrash band Rust by accident, while I was looking for a different band of the same name. when it comes down to it, I think I prefer this one. The band immediately had a certain, uncompromisingly old-school feel, and I was convinced that they were the kind of band which, if they hadn't been Fenriz' band of the week yet, it would only be a matter of time. As it turns out, they already have been, which was definitely deserved, judging by their latest record; "Damned Hellish Voids". At the very least, as a rough guideline to the band, this is pretty much exactly the sort of thing which I imagine Fenriz' to enjoy.
Damned Hellish Voids is only six tracks and just under half-an-hour in length, but it certainly feels complete and varied; it's not the sort of album which utterly rushes past, but leaves a reasonably lasting impression, and has a memorable sound through and through. It's an album with plenty of substance, with plenty to listen to when you let your ears become accustomed to the course, frosty production. While on paper, the album doesn't last long, it definitely feels like an album, and the songs, perhaps through being fewer in number, all manage to have a lot of identity from the very first listen. I personally really enjoy shorter records, and anything between twenty-five and forty minutes feels just right. Rust's sound is an interesting coming-together of primitive, but technically quite adept instrumentation to create something akin to Ravishing Grimness era Darkthrone with a hefty, thrashy edge in the style of bands like Aura Noir, and a reasonable dose of punk, particularly in terms of frantic, full-speed ahead riffs which are filled with wrath, maniacal drumming, and probably a reasonable amount of gratuitously cheap beer, adding a bit of spit and attitude to the mixture. More or less everything about the record utterly reeks of old-school, from the overtly un-triggered drums to the no-nonsense guitar tone, which practically sounds like the band snuck in and recorded it through Darkthrone's gear while Fenriz was at work. The bass is a lot more audible than one might expect for something so heavily influenced by black-metal, and at its most prominent, it blends with the guitar quite well, giving the result a very chunky but smooth feel, punctuated only by the drums and vocals, helping the music to really carry a presence.
Musically, the album sits very precariously on the line between grim and rock n' roll, which I find is usually the two categories which black-thrash can be divided into, almost without exception. With Rust, however, it's quite hard to tell, and indeed, certainly pays tribute to both sounds. Whilst the d-beats, many of the riffs, and indeed the attitude oozing out of the record are indicative of a manic, trashing approach, some of the tracks, such as "Sordid Landscapes" carry a very real darkness with them, particularly with regards to the vocals, which cut and tear out from behind the guitar tone with some force, and a particularly icy and ravaging sound, emphasised most on the opening track, but also present in pockets throughout the album. Sordid Landscapes also has the kind of black-metal solo which a lot of bands who play pure black metal have forgotten how to do properly; it's rough, shrill, atmospheric and ever-so-slightly scary, which is the perfect mixture of aspects. By the time the closing track is over, however, the record has moved into much more attitude-driven material, and becomes a record which is unmistakably black-thrash, and certainly leans further towards the thrash side of their music more than the first four minutes did. This, however, is not a problem for me, as the band are as good at making energetic black-thrash as they are at making it cold and grim; the only difference is that for the latter five tracks or so, you're probably expected to be holding a can of beer. All in all, this coming together results in something a little too warm to fully have the atmosphere of black-metal, but still dark and a little unsettling, another thing which a lot of black-thrash bands haven't been doing lately. Rust do a great job of keeping the "black" in black thrash, whilst at the same time making something which you can whirl your head to, bowing before the onslaught of Hellhammer style powerchords, and writhing, tangled lead-guitar.
I find it's generally a good judge of any music with black-metal influence to ponder "would this deeply alarm someone who doesn't listen to metal". The answer, I think, is probably. That's certainly a good thing, and it really helps me appreciate an album which manages to be utterly diabolical and "rocking" at the same time. In the words of Lemmy, "It's loud, and your parents don't like it". With this quotation in mind, I think it's safe to say that Rust have done a good job of creating The Devil's music indeed.
This is an 8/10.
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