Be Persecuted - _I.I_
(No Colours Records, 2007)
by: James Montague (7.5 out of 10)
It is perhaps no surprise given the authoritarian regime under which they live, but the 1.3 billion people inhabiting the world's most populous nation have not been the most productive on the black metal scene. However, as labels reach further and wider to uncover unique acts in a saturated scene, bands like young Chinese act Be Persecuted finally have an outlet to the wider world. This can only be good for the country and the scene at large, so credit to No Colours Records for uncovering this band (and Kyrgyzstan's Darkestrah, reviewed elsewhere on this site).

Be Persecuted has a sound that will be immediately familiar to fans of Australia's Abyssic Hate; indeed, had I received this album undocumented, I may have assumed it was the long-awaited successor to _Suicidal Emotions_ (2000). The guitars are extremely distorted and fuzzy, sweeping across simple chords in trance inducing, repetitive phrases. The drumming often starts at an enthusiastic pace, before slamming on the brakes as melancholy sets in, sometimes almost drawing to a halt as they hang on grimly to each beat as though it were the last thing keeping them alive. The vocals are very much of the Burzum school, squawking forlornly into the void. Surprisingly enough, the vocalist is a woman, although this tidbit of information makes little difference to the music and is only really significant in the unlikely event that you're attending a Chinese black metal pub quiz in the near future.

Like their Australian contemporaries, Be Persecuted lets a few rays of light seep into their blackened world. On this occasion, the effect is achieved through clean, melodic guitar lines that sit beneath the depressive wash, prodding away hopefully. Occasionally, keyboards are employed to the same end. The result is not as subtly brilliant as Abyssic Hate's work, which achieved this paradoxical euphoria -- the warm embrace of death -- entirely within the framework of outward grief. Nonetheless, Be Persecuted's _I.I_ is a fine expression of solitude and desperation that conveys the suicidal emotion better than most.


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