“This recording was arranged, rehearsed, and recorded in 5 days with 2 microphones, and preserved with a cassette 8-track to uphold the true spirit of analog.”
Couple the above statement with the fact that this two man band (consisting of drums and guitar only) plays primordial Black Metal, and we can probably filter out quite a few semi-interested onlookers right away.
But I ain’t done yet maties. When I say Charnel Valley play primordial Black Metal, I mean this shit sounds (and looks) like it just crawled out of a fucking tar pit. The obvious comparisons to Hellhammer, Von, or Black Goat are certainly fair, but after a number of listens I can say this project does a pretty good job of putting their own spin on the formula. The Dark Archives employs all the elements to label it generally fucked up: muddy guitars, primitive compositions, rudimentary playing, and nary a solo or keyboard to be found. What I find most interesting, however, is what ends up bubbling forth from the cauldron once you take away many of the elements often used in recording mainstream Black Metal today. By stripping away the samples, loops, pedals, and pro-tools production, we’re left with heartfelt, fucked up Black Metal, played by two fiends with an obvious reverence for the genre. Another interesting element regarding this EP is the fact that despite the recordings’ elemental approach, the production is actually pretty damned good. It’s clear, precise, and does an excellent job at bringing forth the aggressive, uncompromising sound that is the root of Charnel Valley.
A little homework will lift the shroud of mystery as to the origins of this Neanderthal band. Marty Rytkonen (aka Worm) and S. Craig Zahler (aka Czar) are no strangers to the American Metal community. Both have been part of well-known Metal publications, including Metal Maniacs. It was their mutual interest in the “magical/transcendental properties of Black Metal” that eventually brought them together to record The Dark Archives. True to the primal approach to the project, much of the material as it was composed ended up being shared via tapes over the phone, due to Zahler’s lack of an internet connection.
Each of the 5 songs on The Dark Archives plod along at about the same pace, never hitting a blast beat, and never slowing to a crawl, just solid, mid-paced filth. Czar’s vocals are a serious selling point for me as well. They match the musical style of the album perfectly: infernally seething and venomous. By the end of the album’s scant 30 minutes, I was definitely left wanting more, and as fortune has it, the two have apparently already laid down tracks for their first full length, The Igneous Race (no word on a release date yet).
Fans of the most primitive Black Metal should certainly check out Charnel Valley, their approach to this genre is definitely worthwhile. For those of you that like your Black Metal more, how should I say it, “Naglfarish”, you should probably pass on by.