|by Anthony Abboreno|
I’ve got an uncle who’s a tremendous Scotch drinker. He once commented on a bottle of Laphroaig somebody had given me as a gift. “That’s good Scotch,” he said, “but the peat flavor isn’t as strong as I like. I like Scotch that tastes like iodine.” It’s not surprising that a Scotch connoisseur would fixate on a taste that non-fans would find repulsive. That’s a trait common to aficionados. You lay claim to something by loving it in a way other people couldn’t.
If metal has the equivalent of Scotch that tastes like iodine, it’s stuff like Deiphago’s Filipino Antichrist (Hells Headbangers, 2009). Deiphago have been described as bestial black metal, a term that encompasses bands like Bestial Warlust, Blasphemy (Can), Archgoat, and Beherit. Traits of the pseudo-genre include messy song structures, riffs that pull from death or grind, and huge inkpots of reverb. When people criticize bestial bands, they proclaim them willfully inaccessible or content-less. When people praise bestial bands, they highlight their intensity and honesty. The music has no commercial prospects. While it’s easy to make music that sounds like a mess, it’s much harder to make an interesting mess.
Deiphago have only put out two full-lengths, but they’ve been around since 1989, which makes them older than most second-wave black metal. Their first full-length, Satanik Eon (Morbid Moon, 2006) was endorsed by Blasphemy’s Ross Bay Cult label, thereby granting them considerable street cred. The band’s worldview is uncompromising. They hate songs about forests, and black metal that strives for accessibility. They like Sarcofago, chaos, and Satan.
Filipino Antichrist makes most other metal sound restrained. It cues up with a majestic intro like an old Godzilla movie, then turns into a garbage truck. There are songs, but they’re mostly buried in feedback. Vocals are roared or screamed, with no time for anguish. Guitar solos are obnoxious skronk, hurling themselves out of the shadows just to die at your feet. Lyrics have the brilliant simplicity of football chants: “Sex for Satan / Chanting prayers / Summon the Beast”; “We are the vengeance/ We are death.” The closest thing to a straight song is the Sarcofago cover “Hate,” which opens with the sound of the lead singer machine-gunning a crowd, then launches into a summation of the album’s purpose: “I hate my enemies / I hate my friends /… I hate to hate.”
I like this because it’s an acquired taste. This barely controlled racket appeals to my reptile brain. It’s overwhelming, mean, and sounds like shit. In other words, it’s good Scotch.