Teratism have been blaspheming the USBM underground since 2000, yet they somehow managed to fly under my radar until Negativity Records approached me about reviewing their latest release, La Bas. They graciously sent me a vinyl copy with all the goodies, and before we dive into the music, I must pay compliments to the band and label for an extremely impressive visual presentation. The EP is pressed on white vinyl with black splatter and is housed in a sleeve featuring some totally badass artwork from none other than Mark Riddick. To top that off, they’ve also included a massive poster and a fully illustrated lyric book. This my friends, is how a vinyl release should be done.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the four tracks found on La Bas make for a mighty fine slab of blackened orthodoxy; a reminder that black metal is often at its best when it stays true its roots, even in 2013. Teratism create music that is thick with atmosphere, and they also understand that atmosphere means nothing without sturdy compositions to back it up. There is a genuinely creepy, diseased-sounding vibe at work that haunts every nook and cranny of the EP’s twenty-plus minute run-time, largely thanks to the sickening double-tracked vocals of Wrath, but also to the fact that these guys know their way around an insidiously buzzing tremolo riff. With so many US black metal bands incorporating outside influences (e.g. the once welcomed but now dreaded shoegaze), it’s actually refreshing to hear one that does evil-as-fuck traditional BM as well as Teratism do here.
The EP begins with a brief sound collage that could’ve come straight from The Exorcist before the opening riffs of “Gospel of the Heliophobe” kick open the gate. Just when you think you’ve got Teratism all figured out though, they slow things down to a nightmarish crawl, replete with dissonant arpeggios that take full advantage of the band’s two-pronged guitar attack. Even when the drums pick the pace back up, the guitars continue to creep until the track dissolves into just single distorted notes and Wrath’s demonic laughter. “Thy Swill Be Dung” takes things back up a notch speed-wise and is the full-on scorcher out of the trio of original songs on display on La Bas, that is until the seance-on-crack section hits at about the three minute mark. From there, the swarming, queasy riffs and possessed vocals of “Shadows Flee the Burning Sons of Light” drag you down even deeper into Teratism’s black pit of hell; a trad black metal workout that warps itself into smeared, dark psychedelia to close out this unholy trinity.
La Bas ends with a cover of Black Widow’s “Come to the Sabbat,” and although I’ve never heard the original, I enjoy the weird, feverish quality that Teratism brings to their version. It’s my understanding that Black Widow were some kind of psych/prog band, but Teratism manage to turn this tune into slow-burning blackened hysteria; it’s the perfect soundtrack for your next blood sacrifice, or for just sitting alone in a pitch black room with your headphones on (whatever yanks your corpse-painted crank).
Teratism have a hot little EP on their hands here, and in the scant few weeks I’ve had it it’s become some of my favorite black metal so far in 2013, right up there with Avakr’s A Word from Within and Unru’s debut demo. It’s also got me interested in exploring the band’s rather sizable back catalog, all the while feeling foolish for sleeping on them up until now. If you’re still looking for your oldschool satanic black metal fix for the year, look no further.