Album: 666 Bastards
Label: Xtreem Music
It took far too long for someone to combine black metal and punk, but by 2015 we’ve already got a few good examples of what this fusion can pull off. The crippling misanthropy of black metal goes well with the raw and primal structures of hardcore and crust, and it gives an outlet for those who dislike the more theatrical or meandering musical qualities one finds in black metal.
Cendra are not the first and hopefully not the last bands that take upon the task of combining black metal and punk. They’re part of a legacy that’s been stretching since the late ‘90s. They may be part of a musical explosion since Darkthrone began toying with crust punk in the mid-2000s with The Cult is Alive, with a few bands aiming to capture a solid hybrid of the two genres.
Musically, Cendra seem to be only lifting aesthetic elements from black metal at first—vocalist Joey has a great voice that seems to alternate between the demonic and the disgusting. The tremolo picked riffs are there, albeit undercut by solid d-beats, blast beats, and punk rhythms.
Combined, these elements are going to appeal to the punk more than the black metal fan. The album lacks the ethereal quality that the greatest black metal tends to have, opting instead for a punk feel that encourages the listener to wreak havoc, causing chaos for the sake of chaos.
This is hardly a complaint. Cendra nails this sound and a black metal feel would’ve felt wrong for most of the tracks. The black metal aesthetics are used for their preferred purpose–to enhance their subversive and destructive sound. Each element plays their part, and along with production, nothing seems to be too prevalent or underutilized.
Alongside the production and sound, the songwriting abilities on 666 Bastards are top notch. Track after track the combination of punk and metal riff structures keep the listener interested and guarantee that their time has not been wasted. In addition to hook driven riffs that draw in the listener on the surface, there are small treasures laden in most of the songs that become more obvious in isolated listens. It’s certainly not going to transcend songwriting but it demonstrates that Cendra know what they are doing and they are not just cranking out songs for the sake of having something to mosh to.
Originality is important, yes, but the key is that what Cendra lacks in being pioneering they make up for in competency. The tropes of crust, first wave black metal, hardcore, and d-beat are all laid out bare for the listener to acknowledge. They are not being merely rehashed—they’re meant to be a landmark of the style.
666 Bastards is destructive, chaotic, and expressive. The tracks they’ve laid out are good enough to make this more than just a “solid” release—it’s a collection of tracks that know their history and are well worth your time.