(New Zealand-based writer Craig Hayes (Six Noises) joins us again with this review of the debut album by NZ’s Methchrist, which has just been digitally released on Bandcamp.)
Methchrist are a belligerent, hate-driven war metal trio from Dunedin, New Zealand. And the band’s Nomadic War Machine debut is the third album from a New Zealand war metal band that I’ve covered here at No Clean Singing in recent times.
To be honest, it’s not the easiest task coming up with fresh ways to unpack more bestial metal from the southern reaches. But that’s not because Nomadic War Machine is uninspiring. The album’s actually a skull-cracking riot –– it’s as fuelled by pure fucking spite as it is any creative ambitions –– but I inevitably feel like I’m repeating myself talking about war metal, because the subgenre’s somewhat of a stylistic cul-de-sac.
Don’t get me wrong, that’s not a criticism of war metal’s established characteristics. I mean, I love crust punk and d-beat to death, and they’ve got a limited range of musical hallmarks and potential descriptive options too. It’s simply that war metal’s parameters are so resolutely set in stone. There’s only so much you can say about the subgenre before you’re reiterating the same points or uttering the same phrases.
Obviously, that’s partly because war metal itself is reductive and regressive. Early architects like Beherit, Blasphemy, Archgoat, or Conqueror weren’t remotely interested in broadening their sound. They wanted to condense and compress metal’s vilest, evilest and most chaotic elements into a singular obliterating razorstorm. And that’s what Methchrist set out to do on Nomadic War Machine.
Methchrist don’t explore any progressive or sophisticated musical ideas on Nomadic War Machine. There’s no multiple readings of the album. It simply features red-raw, violent tracks that hark back to black and death metal’s visceral and primordial roots. In terms of intensity, New Zealand black and death metal behemoths like Vassafor, Diocletian, Heresiarch, or Witchrist are clearly an influence on Methchrist. But the band don’t copycat any of those aforementioned groups on Nomadic War Machine.
Instead, Methchrist concentrate on delivering the harshest and most abrasive album they possibly can. (And, as mentioned, the levels of spitefulness here are palpable.) Nomadic War Machine was tracked at Dunedin’s Carpet Dungeon Recording, home to similarly bleeding-raw releases from the likes of Abschäumer, Slitzkrieg, and Knee Splitter. And the album’s engineer, Nathan Forbes, has captured Methchrist’s animosity and vitriolic riffs in their crudest and most caustic form.
In fact, Nomadic War Machine is about as feral and polarizing as feral and polarizing gets. Like Mayhem’s Deathcrush, or Ildjarn’s early “recordings”, Nomadic War Machine delivers both bloodthirsty primitivism and ear-gouging dissonance, and some will clearly find all the brutal lo-fi noise to be unappealing or downright unbearable. (FYI: I’m sure Methchrist would welcome both reactions.)
Barbwire-wrapped tracks like “Solar Anus”, “Face Fucked With A Knife”, and “Necrophallic Butchery” aren’t crafted –– and I use that term very loosely –– for anyone’s comfort. Methchrist deliberately goad us by writing intentionally corrosive and challenging songs.
Tracks like “Conquer Through Blood”, “Virulent Eradication”, and “Holy Desecration –– Sacred Deprivation” are all astringent audio nightmares too. None of them reach the two-minute mark. They’re all utterly vicious vignettes. And Methchrist are clearly aiming to remind us of a time when black metal’s antagonism proved to be provocative.
Of course, these days, we’re all desensitized and well-acquainted with hellish real-world atrocities. Nothing shocks us anymore. Murder, torture, and corruption are served up via our multiple devices at breakfast time. But Methchrist are here to argue that you don’t have to just passively gaze at all that abhorrence and hostility over your bowl of cereal.
You can actively choose to embrace the virulent chaos in your life. Sure, if you get a little too enthusiastic on the practical side you might fuck up your day –– or ruin the rest of your life. But that’s where albums like Nomadic War Machine enter the picture. Because they allow us to revel in abject filth and disease, whenever we like.
I was trying to think of a way to summarize Nomadic War Machine’s malevolent and misanthropic message, and I remembered a line from a trashy horror book I once read that perfectly encapsulates the album:
“It’s like a dog with cancer ate a rat with leprosy and shit it down [your] throat”.
You can substitute “earhole” for “throat”, if you want. But the point remains the same.
Methchrist make deliberately confrontational music. It’s a raw and ugly noise purpose-built for the bitterest, angriest, and most nihilistic times. So pucker up, kiss that rotting solar anus. There’s nothing as good as listening to a band that sound like they genuinely fucking hate you.