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Faust - Death From Beyond

Death From Beyond
by SJ Loschi at 31 January 2023, 2:55 AM

The front cover of French wunderkind Michaël Hellström’s debut album “Death From Beyond” features what appears to be a flaming vagina that may- or may not- be a portal to a darkened dimension of doom.  Indeed, FAUST’s press release touts this album of slick black metal as “gateways to the underworld and unholy dimensions.”  There is, as far as I can tell, no mentions of vulvas or clitori uttered in the guttural growls vomited up by Hellström in this tight 35-minutes of DISSECTION-like black metal, but I could be wrong. And, as far as I know, perhaps it literally is just a giant burning pussy, in which case an adventurer looking for some dark voyage into the abyss would be severely disappointed, not to mention charred to a crisp.  The music of “Death From Beyond,” like the album cover,  is shrouded in the mystery of blackened death metal,  the furious discharge of sonic noise pouring out from the melted snow of the French Alps. It’s an accomplished debut, made all the more impressive because Hellström plays every single instrument on the record himself.

Opening song “When Death Spawns Fire” is the sound of the flames taking shape.  It starts off with a celebratory melody on the guitars before spiraling out of control into a blackened attack of blast-beats and tremolo-picked guitars, before collapsing into a heavy, mid-tempo groove.  “Torn are the holy liars at the gates of hell,” spits Hellström, referencing the album cover once again, making that flaming vagina an even more ominous representation of the human anatomy. Watch out, or that shit will rip you apart before you even step foot on Satan’s hardwood (no pun intended) floors of hell.  (Well, okay. Maybe the pun was a little bit intended.)  The song works within the template that Hellström revisits consistently throughout the album: luscious production, short bursts of varying rhythm, simple memorable melodies and a foreboding wretched voice of warning.

To Death and Beyond” is a straight-forward blackened attack.  It’s relentless in its aggression, again with a simple, memorable repeated melody wielding fire over the blast beats and walls of ambient guitar.  It breaks down into a semi-clean guitar second-half that builds on the descent into hell.  In “To Death and Beyond,” one has made it past the portal.  If, indeed the womb represents birth, then the opposite direction must be the death-drop into the devil’s den. “Unhallowed Souls”- perhaps a homage to DISSECTION’S “Unhallowed”- comes closest to the album’s melodic core, but I use this term loosely. “Standing at the edge of life,” pleads Hellström. “Night, new born children of the night.”  It’s these newborns that are the unhallowed souls of the song's title.  On which side of the vagina portal does one find these children of the underworld beasts? Only FAUST knows, and he’s leaving it up to us to make that, well, Faustian jump. “Ashes,” a short, instrumental interlude, and the penultimate song “Night Eternal” break up the blackened monotony a little. “Night Eternal” includes some choral-like background vocals/keyboards that add a symphonic foundation for FAUST to cough up the title in a plea to the anti-Gods. It even includes a bluesy, darkened solo over the outro that collapses into a punk-like groove to ease in the album’s final track, “Hellstorm.”

It is, indeed, an impressive debut. Michaël Hellström’s FAUST may not be breaking new ground, but that’s clearly not the point here.  He is paying homage to the greats of black metal- DISSECTION, of course, but also to a lesser extent NECROPHOBIC (another band with an “Unhallowed” song, by the way) and BATHORY, both bands mentioned in their press release. It’s a narrow template to work within, however, and the album’s memorability suffers because of it. While expertly produced, Hellström would benefit by taking some more artistic risks.  He has the chops to do it, and I’m sure there will be plenty of reviewers who will salivate over his expert rendering of the blackened sounds of yore.  So while we eagerly await the blossoming of FAUST’s metal career, just make sure you keep your eye out for those pesky flaming vaginas.  There’s no telling what’s on the other side.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 6
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

1. When Death Spawns Fire
2. And All Its Evil
3. Throne of the Damned
4. To Death and Beyond
5. Unhallowed Souls
6. Ashes
7. Night Eternal
8. Hellstorm
Michaël Hellström: Everything
Record Label: Black Lion Records


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Edited 25 March 2023

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