Label: Nuclear War Now! Productions Release date: 4-07-2020
Before we proceed with the review of this compilation album put out by 666, let’s do a quick history lesson. 666 emerged from the crypts of Tromsø in the early 80s. The majority of the band was formed by members of a punk outfit called Norgez Bank. 666 were heavily influenced by the sounds of Venom and Motörhead. They were probably the earliest band in the Nordic region to be considered proto-black metal, which predates the first wave of black metal that hit the Nordic region (think Bathory, Mayhem). From what I’ve scoured on the interwebs, I learnt that the band’s live performances could well be compared to satanic rituals rife with inverted crosses, blood and other such items which would make any christian quiver in fear. The band was short-lived though from 1982 to 1983, while resurfacing in the late 90s and early 00s to release live studio recordings from the 80s. This brings us to 2020 where the band has released their self-titled compilation album of their live studio recordings.
To set your expectations straight before you dive in, the live recording quality on the tracks is quite subpar. The instruments aren’t balanced at all, the drums sound like a bad drum machine, the bass is hardly audible and at times the vocals are mixed in too loud. But I reckon, that’s expected and excusable to a certain degree given that all these tracks were recorded live in the studio…in the early 80s…in Tromsø! Despite the poor recording, you can definitely feel the raw energy of the band. I’ll give them that. It invokes a feeling that you are present in the very room they recorded these tracks. The compilation opens with a galloping track titled 666, which sounds as if proto-heavy metal and punk had a baby. Tracks like Lucifer and Ledera seem to be heavily influenced by 70s hard rock. What makes these songs heavier and considered “metal” are the raspy vocals and how they are delivered. The guitar riffs are rather primitive, simplistic and raw. The songs are mid-paced, a few notches slower than 80s Motörhead, if that can give you an idea.
On side B on the compilation, four of the tracks are repeated but are different recorded versions. Unfortunately, they’re still live studio recordings, so the improvement in quality isn’t that substantial. That said, my favorite track on this compilation is Love and Kiss. It’s my favorite song because it’s catchy, groovy and I can hear the goddamn bass! Heck, the track starts off with a bass lead. The arrangement and the song-writing is also quite commendable (for that time) with the band breaking away from standard the verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus template. The second guitar’s licks/solos act as lovely embellishments to the first guitar’s chuggy down-picked riffs. The vocal lines are equally catchy even though I don’t understand a word of Norwegian.
To sum up, 666’s appeal lies in the fact that they are, for lack of a better word, kvlt. I truly wish I didn’t have to use this word but it’s true. The tracks are relics from the past and the compilation album put out by Nuclear War Now! Productions will probably make any avid completist black metal fan happy. Again, to reiterate, this isn’t an out and out proto-black metal album but if you dig 70s hard rock influenced by early Venom/ Motörhead sprinkled with some satanic lyrical themes, then you might appreciate 666. If you’re a stickler for properly recorded albums (even live albums), then 666’s compilation album isn’t for you.
- Bønna Helberg – Bass
- Knut Nilsen – Drums
- Tom Arne Hermansen – Vocals
- Håvard Stangnes – Guitars
- Harald Amundsen – Guitars
- Nokka å si
- Love and kiss