Label: Eternal Death
A live recording, Plays with Madness captures Lustrum at their most savage and unhinged. The band’s brand of black metal is crude, raw, and drenched in “fuck you!” spirit. This is as if your favourite first-wave black metal record was recorded in an alcoholic haze, powered by the spirits of the most blasphemous metal, determined not so much to get heads banging but instead to split skulls and consume the grey matter within. And yet, for all its roughness, Plays with Madness demonstrates a band who know how to really play, and to write some killer tunes that blend black-thrash violence with something even more primitive.
To be clear, when I say that Plays with Madness (and Lustrum more generally) is primitive, I don’t mean this in some ironic, post-modern sense, where the most complex blackened death metal is intended to produce a paradoxical atmosphere of caveman-esque violence. Instead, this is primitive in the sense of pounding drums, riffs that are filled with punk energy, and vocals that come across like the challenge of an early man staking out his territory with threats and boasts. Plays with Madness may not be the cleanest live recording you ever hear (and such a recording style would not suit Lustrum at all), but it still puts across their sexually charged, alcoholically-fueled style of black-thrash.
Just a glance at the song titles would imply this. ‘Scum Brigade’; ‘Temple of Lust’; ‘Burning Sin’ – this is black metal as it was originally crafted by Venom, a mass of bestial urges and repulsive riffs, all seemingly designed to upset “proper” music fans whilst delighting those who recognise the power inherent in music based on violence and speed and sex. The crude production of the soundboard recording is the perfect foil for songs such as this, giving them the rough edges they deserve whilst letting just enough of the details come through to demonstrate that these songs are no lazy collection of power chords and up-tempo drum patterns. It’s never pretty, but it sure is effective.
Even so, the production does still present something of a barrier to entry – Lustrum are a great, chaotic band, but the nature of this live recording doesn’t show them in their best light. It’s still a a great release, and one that fans of primitive, proto-black metal will want to spend some time with; but if you’re previously unfamiliar with Lustrum, you’re better off checking our their splits with Alcoholic Rites and Abigail if you haven’t already. And if you have? Then stick the tape on, crank it up loud, and bang your fucking head.