In the last decade or so there has been a good few bands out of the US of A to produce some killer black metal records. The real question is: where does US black metal get its roots? Yeah sure we all know about Scandinavian black metal bands – insert redundant list of bands everyone can recite here– and what they did for black metal in Europe. The US black metal history is something of a mystery.
Enter VON, legendary underground black metal cretins from San Francisco, California. That’s right, good ol’ SAN FRAN! It all started in 1987 – I can only assume on a dark, eerie and grim evening – VON was spawned and by ’91 VON released “Satanic” demo, followed up by the “Satanic Blood” demo and by the year 1992 they disbanded and disappearing without a trace, or that’s what we’re told. Only at turn of the new millennium their “Satanic Blood Angel” was released in ‘03 as a compilation and in ’09 they released a live album of show back in ’91 titled “Live at the Stone – San Francisco CA 1991”. Their demo “Blood Angel” was recorded between ’91 and ‘92 as an unreleased demo, never released on it’s own, but was part of the “Satanic Blood Angel” compilation.
Even though they might not have been around for long, one could say that they definitely influenced a lot of bands in the US as well as some Scandinavian acts such as Watain, which actually got their name from a VON track off the “Satanic Blood” Demo.
Right, so a lot of myth surrounding the legend that is VON, which I find absolutely fascinating. The mysticism, mystery and unknown aspects of the band adds something unique that makes it all a bit more, intriguing. There are a lot of inconsistencies with regards to exact release dates of demos in various ‘zine articles, websites and other publications such as “Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground” by Michael Moynihan and Didrik Søderlind (1998). I for one am absolutely enthralled in the mystery of their dark past.
The band has had a cult following for years and they eventually decided to payback those loyal to the night when they reunited in 2010 officially. They didn’t waste much time and releases “Satanic Blood” a full-length record–same title as their second demo- which brings us to their latest and most up to date scheduled release titled “Dark Gods: Seven Billion Slaves”.
The record entails everything buried by the dusts of time and encompasses that raw, eerie and evil sound that makes this type of black metal an acquired taste and work of art. This could see the band win over a lot of new followers, but with a cult following such as theirs, I don’t really think it’s all that important. As a fan of black metal, one would say they have not lost their touch in the slightest. The record swallows you into a vortex of darkness and it puts one in a trance-like state.
The riff collection is classic to the second wave of black metal and of course, blasphemy, darkness, Satan and blast-beats are never far behind. The vocal work is absolutely outstanding and just adds to the atmosphere of the record. The variation in tempo is a fine art with regards to this record, beautifully controlled and well executed.
“Dark Gods: Seven Billion Slaves” definitely has something different when you put it alongside the newer generation of black metal records being released today. It has strange uniqueness to it. If you’re into black metal and you appreciate the myth and legend surrounding black metal as a genre, you will definitely enjoy this release. ’s “Dark Gods: Seven Billion Slaves” is a timeless record by a timeless band.
ALL HAIL VON!