I have realized that we all have plague, and I have lost my peace.
– Albert Camus, The Plague
Brothers and sisters, everything is fucked. The division between every conceivable social and ideological marker grows ever wider while money-grubbing vultures continue to defile this world unabated. Decimating wars and the pandemic still rage, and as the conspiratorial among us prep for the final countdown, latte-sipping suburbanites huddle in their negative-equity silos, reciting failed mantras from the book of hyper-capitalism.
We’re cooked. But have no fear; there’s good news. If the current crop of catastrophes / atrocities confirms your worst suspicions about humanity, you’re not alone. Bestial Aotearoa New Zealand clerics Methchrist are here to preach the Word. And the Word is: we reap what we sow.
In Methchrist’s deafening church, humans are malignant parasites — the absolute scum of the earth. The band’s stampeding sermons promote belligerence and blasphemy above all, and Methchrist’s misanthropic invocations are purpose-built to eradicate the last vestiges of hope buried in the depths of your weary ol’ heart. Praise be, grab a pew — let us pray.
Long-term disciples of Methchrist’s hate-driven scriptures have been waiting expectantly for the Ōtepoti (Dunedin) band’s first full-length release, Pestilential Warfare of the Black Flame. It’s safe to say that any dedicated parishioners / cultists will be more than satisfied with the album’s throttling sermons. Pestilential Warfare of the Black Flame features 33 maelstrom minutes of more-evil-than-evil exhortations, and the album’s profane psalms celebrate filth and disease while championing the nihilist in all of us.
Methchrist stamped their name on the South Hemisphere black / death metal map with their well-received 2017 demo, Nomadic War Machine. A split with Australian degenerates Self Harm and a two-song demo (Demo MMXX) followed soon enough. Methchrist’s releases thus far have featured fierce salvos of blast-furnace war metal, and Pestilential Warfare of the Black Flame is no different. Methchrist’s raw brutality is primitively hypnotic — i.e. you’ll remain transfixed by the band’s aural abominations as they drag you into the abyss.
Pestilential Warfare of the Black Flame is released by NZ label Landmine Records, home to bands like forward-thinking death metallers Blindfolded and Led to the Woods, doomier henchmen Yarnspinner, and less interestingly, Deafheaven devotees Tuscoma. It’s great to see Landmine Records stepping up confidently and getting amongst it. The NZ metal scene has its fair share of big talkers / opinion-spouters who fail to take any constructive steps towards achieving their goals. Aotearoa’s punk and hardcore communities have always been far more active in recording and releasing music, and it’s super encouraging to see a homegrown metal label like Landmine Records harnessing that same diehard DIY drive.
It’s also great to see Landmine Records recognizing that Methchrist’s full-length debut deserves a gatefold vinyl release — vinyl being the perfect medium for such a murderous onslaught of ‘audio-terrorism’. Kudos to Methchrist’s drummer and visual maestro Daniel Bloxham for making maximum use of the vinyl format, too. Bloxham’s phenomenal cover art utilizes every gruesome millimetre of space on Pestilential Warfare of the Black Flame‘s LP sleeve.
The last time I wrote about Methchrist, I noted that it was challenging unpacking their music, given their strain of war metal is a stylistic cul-de-sac. War metal’s limited parameters and uncompromising approach don’t encourage meta-analysis. But don’t mistake that for criticism. War metal’s iron-willed hallmarks are meant to be reductive and regressive, and Methchrist’s music is a tribute to a more antediluvian era of black metal, death metal, and grindcore.
Like war metal’s earliest architects — Beherit, Blasphemy, Conqueror, whoever — Methchrist aren’t interested in opening up their sound for closer examination. They’re seeking to compress (and pressurize) their music so it arrives like an obliterating barrage, and that’s precisely what Pestilential Warfare of the Black Flame delivers.
The album’s deranged hymns are so cold they’ll give you frostbite, and yet, somehow, they’re also so sweltering that you can smell the putrefying corpses. “Anthropic Dysecdysis”, “Attrition Rituals”, and “Vermin Shrines” match spitting vocals to a battery of incendiary instrumentation, with virulent riffs aplenty worming their way under your skin.
Fuck trends and fuck pointless showboating; Methchrist’s tracks are a volatile blend of speed and savagery that fall somewhere between electro-shock therapy and waking up to an artillery bombardment. Methchrist envenom and embitter with glee (and ear-gouging dissonance) on tracks like “Hate Commands” and “Swine March”. Spite and a sacrilegious bite unite in sound and vision, and whether it’s the blood-boiling vitriol of “Miasmic Messiah” or a corrosive nightmare like “Baptismal Putrefaction”, Methchrist’s meat-grinding ultra-violence is always backed to the hilt by hell-hammering drums.
Of course, therein lies the crux of war metal’s brilliance or its mind-numbing monotony, depending on your preferences. For all its skin-melting intensity, dirty war metal like this isn’t going to suit anyone looking for ornate fretboard gymnastics. Methchrist’s tracks are full-bore paroxysms of violence, where space to catch your breath or admire the view is in extremely short supply. (See the similar scorched-earth approach of bands like Profane Order, Antichrist Siege Machine, or Prophetic Suffering.) Methchrist underscore that the best bestial metal is, by its very nature, challenging with a capital C.
As hoped, Pestilential Warfare of the Black Flame is Methchrist’s most potent work thus far. Aesthetically, Methchrist sound more vicious and feel far more antagonistic. From Pestilential Warfare of the Black Flame‘s abrasive production to its scornful songs that harken back to extreme metal’s provocative roots, every relentless second on Methchrist’s full-length debut is 666% confrontational in tone and temper. Sure, Methchrist aren’t reinventing war metal, but they have honed their attack to a deadlier edge. The result is their most visceral release yet.
You don’t need to be a cynic or a misanthrope to benefit from Methchrist’s mission here on earth. Hell, I’m a certified rainbow-hearted fluff-bunny, yet here I am spreading Methchrist’s grim gospel. The truth is that humanity’s selfishness and intolerance are a lot to be reckoned with. Some days, you look outside and all you can see is a war of all against all. At those times, when you’re sick to your stomach about the state of everything, Methchrist are here, arms wide open, ready to embrace you in all their bile-spewing glory. Some days, hate is exactly what you need to get you through.
On one level, Methchrist’s songs are a ferocious litany of blood, death, entropy, and revenge. If that’s what you’re looking for, Methchrist’s über-hostile doctrine will satisfy all your corrupt ecclesiastical needs. However, Methchrist’s deviant ministry also touches on a more profound truth.
The band’s music is a nightmarish reflection of humanity, cataloguing our failures and cruelties in Stygian ways. In doing so, Methchrist tap into the poison that infects us all, and it’s only fitting that their music should feel so withering and so sickening in its intensity. Pestilential Warfare of the Black Flame is unquestionably a sinister sacrament, exorcising us via utterly malevolent means.
I’ve said it many times before, but there’s really nothing as good as listening to a band that sound like they genuinely fucking hate you.