The Isolationist

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Back in 2003, Krieg did something totally unexpected: the New Jersey-based black metal outfit recorded a cover of the Velvet Underground's "Venus in Furs" (a whips-and-chains manifesto that has arguably become the national anthem of BDSM). Surprisingly melodic coming from Krieg, that Velvet Underground cover was essentially goth rock with black metal-style rasp vocals: definitely a departure from the harsh, dissonant, unforgiving black metal Krieg were (and still are) known for. Some black metal purists cried foul, accusing Krieg frontman Neill Jameson, aka Imperial, of trying to go commercial. But Krieg's four-minute flirtation with goth rock on "Venus in Furs" turned out to be an anomaly, and unapologetic viciousness continued to be the main weapon in Krieg's arsenal of destruction. In fact, there is no shortage of viciousness on The Isolationist, which faithfully adheres to the take-no-prisoners approach to black metal. Nothing on this early 2010 recording is as melodic as Krieg's "Venus in Furs" cover -- not by a long shot -- and a scorched earth policy prevails on "All Paths to God," "Inhalation Decays," "Photographs from an Asylum," and other sledgehammer tracks. The Isolationist is an album that black metal purists should be happy with, although listeners who prefer their metal on the melodic side will probably find it to be excessively brutal. But then, what is too harsh for one person is exhilarating for someone else, and exhilaration taken to the extreme is exactly what Imperial and his colleagues are serving up on this 55-minute CD. The Isolationist doesn't offer a great deal of variety, and isn't Krieg's best or most essential album, but it's a decent listen if one likes his/her black metal raw and uncompromising.

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