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Review: Govanon - Ancient Order of Cuthulu Serpent
Ancient Order of Cuthulu Serpent

Label: Blasphemy Productions
Year released: 2000
Duration: 41:30
Tracks: 8
Genre: Black Metal

Rating: 4/5

Review online: June 16, 2003
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating
Ancient Order of Cuthulu Serpent

Rated 3.18/5 (63.64%) (11 Votes)

Well now this is pretty cool. Yet another blind foray into underground black metal produces a surprisingly good album. This is the first CD for Brazilian black metalers Govanon after more than ten years of demos and gigging. Their website has not been updated in over a year, so this may not be a going concern any longer, and that would be a shame.

All the stuff you would expect from a ‘kvlt’ BM outfit are here. Govanon wear facepaint and are into candles and upside-down crosses. Their lyrics rant rather incoherently about ancient Sumerian deities, Lovecraftian monsters, war, pain and the destruction of all that is Christian. But despite an image and approach that can be only termed cliché, Govanon manage to keep things interesting by remembering that they are a band, not a tract. The music here is actually quite good, with plenty of cool riffs and decent musicianship. They have a keyboard player, but they don’t overdo it, and this is very guitar-focused metal. The production is underground enough to sound ‘troo’, but still good and heavy, and clear enough that you can hear what’s going on.

The only major drawback for me here are the vocals of mainman Malleus Infernus. Remember in "Return of the Jedi", when Princess Leia is disguised as the bounty hunter, and she has that voice distorter? That’s exactly what the vocals here sound like. Malleus takes the typical black metal shriek to the point of a papery rasp that borders on self-parody. You get used to it, but the few places (as on "God of the Tyrants") where he uses a more low-pitched roar sound much, much cooler.

The songwriting on this disc is much more advanced than you would expect, and the band alternates longer songs like the title track and the nine-minute "Inferni" with shorter blasts of pure evil like "Immortal Warriors". They handle varied tempos and changing riffs well enough, and aren’t stuck in high-speed for the whole disc. In fact most of this CD is more mid-paced with occasional blast-outs for emphasis. I would like more bottom end in the mix, but that’s BM for you.

The CD case looks pretty cool, with a cover painting of Jesus being eaten by a giant snake. The monochrome green art and the back cover photos are highly reminiscent of Emperor’s "Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk". The internal band photos are what you would expect, except that Malleus Infernus looks like Brain-Guy from "Mystery Science Theater 3000" The lyrics range from weird to incomprehensible, with the eccentric spellings and lack of grammar one expects from black metal, but then, that could just be because they’re Brazilian and don’t have good English, hard to say.

I surprised myself by liking this. As usual, I find the black metal clichés to be kind of silly, and wish the music was a little more like death metal. But that’s just my taste. Govanon (the name, by the way, of the old Irish smith god – go figure) are a worthy black metal band, and I hope they are still around, as I’d gladly purchase a follow-up to "Ancient Order of Cuthulu Serpent" (note: that is their spelling, not mine. I know how to spell "Chthulhu")

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