There are quite a few things about Tsjuder that some would consider to be mildly interesting. The group put out a really good album in 2004 entitled Desert Northern Hell. That’s pretty cool! Tsjuder is from Norway, and its members have played in more than twenty bands collectively. Rad, I guess? The band has quite a few consonants that come together to form a pretty unexpected sound. In fact, it’s pronounced: “Shoo-der,” which kind of makes me think of this guy:
Now, Shooter McGavin was a very interesting character. He was the kind of schmuck that everyone had an opinion on because of his polarizing antics. Tsjuder, on the other hand, with the exception of one album, has only ever been mildly interesting, and the band’s new album Antiliv is no different. That’s not to say it’s a bad album, as it’s totally listenable in just about every way. Think of it as a significant other you brought home for the first time only to receive a lukewarm parental response. Clearly you’ve been focusing on the good in said person, so when others around you have been less than excited, it’s not that they didn’t like your new partner, but rather knew that you could do better.
If you find yourself really enjoying Antiliv, think of me as your parent telling you that you can do better. Antiliv certainly ain’t bad, but think of what else you could be listening to right now. You know how some people are only attractive when they’re new to you, but then your eventual discovery of their lack of depth kind of makes them boring and bland? Antiliv. How about when you haven’t really been focusing on dating for a while because you’ve been so busy at work, and then you randomly decide to let loose one night and wind up getting too drunk and banging someone until the sun rises. Was it really that good, or was it just… Antiliv? Well there’s only one way to find out, and that’s taking the time to listen to more shit. Too harsh? Probably, but allow me to weigh out the pros and cons before the book is closed on this one.
First of all, the lack of original riffs on this album is a bit perplexing, even for a band that has really only had one golden album. “Kaos” is an exciting enough start to the album, channeling Gorgoroth‘s opener of the underrated yet massive Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam. The difference? “Wound upon Wound” actually turns into something, whereas “Kaos” falls completely flat. The following three tracks are even more bland, even though the band displays damn near impeccable musicianship which is only complemented by an absolutely marvelous production job (one could also argue that this makes matters more sterile). And then comes “Demonic Supremacy,” a thrash-n-groove ripper that is honestly more reminiscent of Agnostic Front‘s “Toxic Shock” than any black metal. Therein lies the most frustrating aspect of this whole piece of artwork: Why can’t the entire album just be this good? “Demonic Supremacy” would be a complete game changer if it wasn’t for the two slightly-better-than-mediocre songs that follow. And then… the title track, which has a nice, catchy central riff, but it’s about four minutes too long and, you guessed it, it’s totally “Antiliv.”
The second half of Antiliv is undoubtedly better than the first, but there are some black metal albums this year whose worst songs contain more good riffs than the entirety of this eight song (lack of) adventure. The long and the short of it: while Antiliv may scratch the itch of those wanting to relive the band’s glory days, its lack of inspiration will become apparent very early on, and the time spent listening to all 46 minutes of this could be better spent elsewhere. While Tsjuder is certainly a respectable live act that deserves to be credited for conjuring one of the best black metal albums of the naughties, the band has been quite far removed from writing anything emotionally captivating in over ten years. In short, they’re dudes with corpse paint who really know how to play their instruments, which like we’ve already established, is only mildly interesting.