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Xasthur – Victim Of The Times

Victim Of The Times
by Paul LaPlaca at 20 September 2021, 3:27 AM

XASTHUR, the project formed by SCOTT CONNOR, a.k.a.MALEFIC was active from 1995-2010 spawning 8 albums of dark music that was closely akin to the second wave of Norwegian black metal. In 2010 he dissolved the project and shifted gears towards more acoustic-driven, “folk” music under the moniker, NOCTURNAL POISONING. 5 years and 4 albums later, he reclaimed the original name but maintained the present direction of the band.

Their most recent album, “Victim Of The Times” is a hypnotic, droning, collection of acoustic guitar-based songs that are about as far removed from actual folk music as their original, black metal roots. The chord voicings employed are immersed in perpetual dissonance, an unsettled and unbalanced sound that supports the dark lyrics and tone of the album. It is sullen, despondent, and trance-like. It is homogenous and consistent in its approach and texture with no stylistic departures to upset the vibe.

Many songs center on an open string ringing throughout the entire structure with a bass hinting at a chord progression while the guitars move subtly above and below this drone tone. The vocals sit comfortably in this area as well, with little movement to the melodies, and static, parallel movement to the harmonies. The lyrics are simple and the phrasing slightly awkward as CONNER attempts to shoe-horn syllables and accents into lines that are forced to uncomfortably accept them.

I believe it is this combination of simplicity and awkwardness that is at the heart of the appeal of this project- it is the soundtrack of the rejected, the outsider, the dark weirdo. It’s suicidal for people too tired to follow through with it. There is very little I can compare this to, it doesn’t follow any type of progression or pattern that I can follow and the emotional effect is just a sense of unsettled malaise. The closest thing I can think of is some of the SYD BARET era PINK FLOYD acoustic-based tracks with odd harmonies.

For certain personalities, this must be a soothing balm to their worldly hurts and loneliness. It is brutally honest, without superfluous artistry or poetry, and has a calming, meditative feel to it and I hate it, I fucking hate it. For me, this is monotonous and monotone, the droning like a set of bagpipes without the melodies. That’s not to say, it’s not GOOD, I just hate it. Did I mention I hate it?

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 10
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

1. Same Old Suspects
2. Dust Of What Was
3.  Mirror in the Face
4. Unsolvable Puzzles
5. Fairy Tale Ideologies
6. Medieval Acid Folk
7. Stars Amongst Failures
8. Reality is the Unknown
9. Estranged
10. Postponing My Funeral
11. Static of Uncreativity
12. A Future to Fear
13. Ghost of an Excuse
14. Mirrormindfuck
15. Benefits of Dying
16. Victims of the Times
17. Digital Beast
18. Home is Nowhere
19. Allegiance to the Meaningless
20. Justify Your End
21. Search of Sanity
22. Voluntary Prisoners
Scott "Malefic" Conner – Vocals, All Instruments
Christopher Hernandez  – Guitar, Vocals
Rachel Roomian – Guitar, Vocals
Record Label: Lupis Lounge/Prophecy Productions


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Edited 16 October 2021

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