Von


Satanic Blood Angel

Von - Satanic Blood Angel ©2003 Nuclear War Now!
1. Devil Pig
2. Veinen
3. Watain
4. Lamb
5. Veadtuck
6. Satanic Blood
7. Christ Fire
8. VON
9. Evisc
10. Release
11. Blood Angel
12. Chalice Of Blood
13. Vennt
14. Backskin
15. Veinen
16. Watain
17. Lamb
18. Evisc
19. Release
20. Satanic Blood
21. Veadtuck
22. Chalice Of Blood
23. Goat Christ
24. Vennt
25. Dissection Inhuman
26. VON

"In the year 1991, an obscure black metal horde called Von arose from the ruins of the once great Bay Area metal scene. Disgusted by the predictable US death metal sound, Von was focused on creating an atmosphere of total sin through undeniably hypnotic song structures. Influenced by the likes of Bathory and Sodom, Von took their influences and stripped them down to bare skeleton. In the process, they became the forefathers of what is now considered modern black metal." - Liner notes to 2003's Satanic Blood Angel, written by PK Insulter.

It's quite interesting the way the English language has evolved throughout time. For instance, did you know that during Shakespeare's day, the word "cute" meant stupid or silly, and that later on, for a while at least, a "conservative" (in the USA, anyway) referred to someone who wanted the government to stay out of people's lives, not wire tap their homes, tell them who to marry, or shoe-horn them into the hands of giant insurance companies? I know, it's crazy! But anyway, the manner in which the meanings of words change over time is a constant and fluid process, occurring even now as we speak. Who knows? Perhaps in a decade or two, this entire paragraph will be able to be succinctly summed up with the phrase "giant taco cat", or the word "yellow". It's all very exciting, and hopefully with my exceptionally poor soy-and-potatoes based diet, I won't live long enough to see this happen.

But anyway, an excellent study in the way language changes, even in a contemporary context, can be seen above in the quoted passage from the liner notes of Satanic Blood Angel, the compilation of all recorded material (ie: a bunch of four track demos and a live recording) by the U.S. "forefathers" of black metal Von. As this compilation (and presumably the liner notes) were released in the far gone year of 2003, we will find that many intriguing linguistic changes have taken place since then. Let's have a look:

*"ůVon was focused on creating an atmosphere of total sin through undeniably hypnotic song structures."

Today, when we think of concepts like "total sin" and "hypnotic song structures" in music, what often comes to mind are notions of a foreboding, malevolent atmosphere, and a mesmerizing quality to the song, one which draws you in and leaves you at once amazed, astounded, and entranced. Going by the actual music on this disc, however, an "atmosphere of total sin" created by "undeniably hypnotic song structures" apparently referred to what sounds like a reverbed pig burping out "evil" lyrics over short, shittily recorded sludgy speed metal riffs that make the first Bathory album sound like Frank Zappa. Furthering the pig-sounding theory is the fact that the first song on this album is called "Devil Pig", which I assume is about the lead singer of the band.

*"Disgusted by the predictable U.S. death metal soundů"

Here, we have a two-pronged set up towards unpacking the difference in word meanings between 2003, the year when the strange, now-mythical anthropods known as "metrosexuals" roamed the earth, and now, 2009, the Age of Hope and Change (registered trademarks apply). First, we must look at the structure of the sentence: "Disgusted by the predictable U.S. death metal sound" denotes that Von's disgust lied not in the sound of U.S. death metal in and of itself, but in its predictability. Now then, again, contextualizing this sentence with respect to the actual music on this disc, we find that while the word "predictable" seemed to carry the same meaning it does these days, the term "disgusted" appears to have had somewhat of an opposite meaning compared to its modern day definition. As it went, the guys in Von seemed to actually love repetition, as evidenced by the fact that aside from the two variables of having either reverb or no reverb (echo) on the vocals, and either having a laughably dumb sounding spoken-word intro or not having any spoken word intro at all, each and every one of these twenty six tracks sounds more or less exactly the same: Same thubba-thubba-thubba-thubba drum beat, same burpy vocals, same trebly guitar tone playing the same boring, simple riffs, same everything. Well, okay, they do introduce the name of the songs in the live tracks, which I suppose they don't do in the studio versions. I like to call this "the exception that proves the rule", and yes, I will use it to dismiss any contradiction brought to my end.

*"Influenced by the likes of Bathory and Sodom, Von took their influences and stripped them down to bare skeleton."

Speaking of exceptions that prove the rule, it is my contention that this sentence actually reads today exactly the same is it did years ago. Unfortunately, stripping Von's influences down to the bare skeleton also apparently meant removing the brains, muscle, heart, guts, or, to abandon my weak metaphor for a moment, anything that made the bands that influenced them any good whatsoever.

So as you can see, the development of language and meaning over time can be a strange and wondrous thing, and I hope that this review has done well to drive this point home. On an entirely unrelated point, there's this shitty, rather incompetent American black metal band from the early 90s called Von, and if for some reason you want everything they ever recorded, you can get it all on the CD Satanic Blood Angel. Supposedly Varg Vikernes liked them, but then again, what kind of role model is he, anyway? Varg liked Von, and he ended up going to prison for twenty-one years. Don't let the same thing happen to you! Listen to Bathory instead.

Review by Hunter Brawer

Review date: 08/2009

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