Bughuul beckons. Do you know where your children are?
Over the weekend, my wife and I rented the largely forgettable Self/Less from Redbox. The movie was an okay action romp starring the overhyped Ryan Reynolds (whose best work is far behind him in Two Guys and a Girl) and the talented but underutilized Ben Kingsley. This post isn’t about that movie, though. During the trailers before the movie started, a preview for Sinister 2 reminded me that I still need to catch up on the adventures of child-snatchin’ Babylonian deity Bughuul. Remembering that Bughuul was pretty dang, uh, sinister, and that the villain’s appearance was influenced by black metal aesthetics, I decided to poke around online to see if any metal bands had christened themselves after the erstwhile boogieman. Sure, the first Sinister is still a relatively recent movie, but in a world where there are no less than five bands calling themselves Sadist, anything is possible. As fate would have it, there isn’t a single band using the moniker Bughuul (take note, aspiring black metal musicians), but there does happen to be a long-suffering German musician who calls himself by the ancient Babylonian deity’s name. It turns out that Herr Bughuul’s solo project BlutEck finally came to fruition last year in the form of Pest, Tod und Teufel. Does this old-school black metal assault match up to the insidious atmosphere of Sinister‘s ancient and relentless evil? Let’s find out.
Although I still have yet to see Sinister 2, I highly recommend the first entry in the series to horror buffs. Sure, there are some predictable jump scares and lackluster tropes (like the deadbeat dad putting his family’s life at risk) throughout the film, but Bughuul himself is a genuinely frightening villain, one whose arcane influence and malevolent intent is primarily revealed through a series of snuff film-esque home movies shot on Super 8 mm film that are interspersed with the regular footage. These grainy and graphic home movies, with such innocuous titles as Pool Party ’66, each feature some sort of depraved act of violence carried out against an unsuspecting family and are the primary medium for creating the horror in the film. Watching families be burned alive, drowned, and hanged is extremely unpleasant, but the grainy, personal nature of these miniature snuff films makes them each even more terrible than you might imagine. At some point in the film, we start to catch brief glimpses of Bughuul and his cult symbol in each of the films, but like any good director, Scott Derrickson uses these fleeting sightings to build tension for the climax of the film. The strategy pays off; Bughuul is a terrifying entity not for what he does in the present throughout the film, but for the immense threat of which he is capable. Of all the modern horror icons, Bughuul is easily one of the most imposing and would make an excellent source of inspiration for a horror-obsessed metal band.
I’d love to report to you that Bughuul’s namesake in the metal world delivers the same level of brooding, suffocating, terror, but the fact of the matter is that I just don’t know enough about BlutEck, or Bughuul’s previous work in Eck, to make that assessment. It would seem that Pest, Tod und Teufel’s late release (why do bands keep dropping albums in December) and limited production (500 independent copies) have the made excellently titled album (Pest, Tod und Teufel translates roughly to “Pestilence, Death, and the Devil”) extremely difficult to hear. What I can tell you, though, is that I expect the album to be pretty good based on the sole track available on Youtube.
Upon first listen, “Gefrorene Erde” sounds like a relatively standard black metal track offering up worship to the pagan fires of old that once scoured the bastions of holiness across the frozen tundra. A fitting tribute to Bughuul, then, as his in-film lore holds that the early church tried to eradicate his symbol from history in order to prevent more murders and kidnappings, but not a very novel one. Subsequent listens reveal a surprising depth, though. The percussion in the song has a hypnotic nature to it accented by a rhythmic “crrrack,” as if the serpent of old is weaving some sort of beguiling deceit while periodically striking at his foes. This hypnotic rhythm creates a Blut Aus Nord-esque spirit of revelry that accommodates the mid-paced riffs and rasped vocals. The real highlight though is the way the song uncoils like the wily serpent at around the 2:20 mark; the drums and guitar lurch to a crawl while holding the same note pattern, injecting the whole affair with a much needed dose of oppression. I was prepared to write this track off as just another stock black metal song, but I’m honestly hypnotized and want to hear more.
If you’re hankering for more BlutEck, you can find the band on Facebook. Send Bughuul an email and let him know you want to hear the album, dagnabbit. Also, don’t spoil Sinister 2 for me.