White Death - Iconoclast CD
For a decade now, Finland's WHITE DEATH have built a small-yet-formidable canon of work that's come to define modern underground black metal in their nation. It's no secret that Finland has possessed one of the most potent black metal scenes from the early '90s onward, and with each new generation that picks up the torch, some are contenders and others are just content to uphold "the Finnish sound." WHITE DEATH took their time with deploying demos and then their debut album, simply self-titled, but they occupied a unique position between those poles: steeped in noble tradition, but exuding a confidence and charisma that rendered White Death an exceptionally nasty work even with its considerably cleaner production. Three years of silence followed between the release of that debut album and the three-song Promo 2020, which included an Enochian Crescent cover - an inspired choice from an oft-unsung legend, and a portent of grandeur to come.
"Everyone knows the curse of the second album, because the first demo or album is always best," smirks WHITE DEATH frontman Vritrahn. "People ask and hope us to do this or do that, and when we put out a few preview songs, there were complaints about sound, for example. So, not to please anybody, we bought the smallest and worst-possible amplifiers from the second-hand store just to ruin fucking great riffs and drown all the best things on this album under muddy noise."
Black humor, perhaps, for WHITE DEATH's forthcoming Iconoclast is anything but "worst-possible" or "muddy." Rather, the Finns take the ripped-raw dungeonic recesses of the deepest catacombs of the '90s black metal underground and raise them to triumphant, terrorizing heights. It's a unique disconnect in that the soundfield (and, more so, execution) exudes rippling filth coupled with pulsing nastiness, but the songwriting itself surges with a majestic melodicism that's equal parts euphoria and eulogy - or, rather, beautiful battle fury and its ultimate tragic ending. What's more, they move at many speeds here, shifting with ease and elan; that WHITE DEATH don't solely stick to the stock Finnish Tempo and instead make their acceleration almost effervescent lends an even-more-unique quality to the album. As such, Iconoclast keeps their hearts authentically ablaze with the underground spirit whilst unshackling themselves from the ghettoized thinking that mostly serves to keep the mongrel hordes within safe, status-quo boxes. A record for Black Metal People, but those who hate Black Metal People: truly, Iconoclast!
"This new album is like the Anttila catalog," concludes Vritrahn with yet more black humor. "They sell all kinds of shit, from toys to furniture. The Anttila underwear pages were the most masturbated magazine in Finland. If you know what to search, you can find it. You just need to try a bit harder to cum, but eventually, you will."