Xasthur - Biography
With his enigmatic tendencies and a reluctance to grant interviews, Xasthur is a prolific one-man ambient death metal band begun by Scott Conner—better know by his pseudonym, Malefic—in Alhambra, California, in 1995. Often cloaked ominously in black and wearing corpse paint, Malefic is the very embodiment of darkness who uses minimalist metal to convey his messages. Xasthur’s lyrics aren’t as much about sweeping themes centered on Luciferian ideologies, paganism and mythological gods so much as they are about more personal feelings of human despair, anguish, death, unencumbered evil, graphic murder and annihilation. Since the cult band’s first album in 2002, Xasthur has proven to be one of the genres greatest innovators, releasing a total of eight full-length albums and multiple EPs before Malefic announced that he was ending Xasthur in 2010 to focus on other projects.
Using a portmanteau of “Xastur” of the Cthulhu Mythos and “Xenaoth,” Xasthur was begun while Malefic was playing in Southern California death metal bands in the mid-1990s. In its earliest form, Malefic was joined by Mike Pardi (otherwise known by his stage name, Ritual) on drums for the first recordings in 1999—which was a split effort with Orosius—but these were destroyed and Xasthur became a solo project. Malefic has stated that black metal vanguard Burzum inspired him to become one-man entity.
Xasthur’s first official full-length release, Nocturnal Poisoning (2002) was released simultaneously on the Blood Fire Death and Red Stream labels, and re-mastered and re-released later on Los Angeles-based Southern Lord Records in 2005. One of the tracks—“A Gate Through Bloodstained Mirrors”—would be re-recorded several times. A year later, Blood Fire Death released the 11-track The Funeral of Being, which received a limited pressing and scant attention outside of avid black metal circles.
Telepathic With the Deceased (Moribund) came out in 2004, and featured mini-epics like 10-minute track “Murdered Echoes of the Mind” and the nearly 10-long title track—both of which featured Xasthur’s drone-heavy metal atmospherics and indecipherable vocal growls. Moribund would also release a re-mastered version of 2005’s To Violate the Oblivious, which was originally released on the Swedish label, Total Holocaust Records. The German label Perverted Taste released the album via a double-vinyl edition featuring a bonus track.
Xasthur’s next album, 2006’s Subliminal Genocide (Hydra Head) was considered the temple of the band’s output to that point—a tower of leviathan black metal that included the ever-descending towards hell 13-minute track “The Prison of Mirrors” and the all-instrumental “Loss and Inner Destruction.” As with previous material, the mix levels were unique giving it the character of eclectic art rock record—Malefic’s ability to gives his instrumental passages collusions with suffering on songs like “Arcane and Misanthropic Projection” exemplify that depth.
Originally a limited run vinyl release on Profound Lore, Southern Lord released a split of Xasthur and Leviathan in 2006, and a year later, Defective Epitaph (2007 Hydra Head) solidified Xasthur as not only the most prolific black metal artist but also its most visionary. The album—considered to be his most accessible—took some organic turns, as it marked the first time Malefic had used acoustic drums (on certain tracks) in place of the usual drum machine.
Defective Epitaph was followed in 2008 with the double-disc A Gate Through Bloodstained Mirrors (Hydra Head), which was a repackaging and re-mastered version of Malefic’s earliest recorded demo work from 2001, along with other rare material. The album drew comparisons to Graveland and Burzum in its earlier CD-R form (only 150 copies). With themes of darkness and funereal doom, at least one rumor linked the album to an actual suicide.
Funeral of a Being (Red Stream) came out in 2008, followed by the limited edition A5 Digipack release of All Reflections Drained (2009 Hydra Head), which marked the seventh full-length release by Xasthur. The album was also released as a cassette that included pins and a patch.
Malefic has said that Portal of Sorrow (2010) will be the last released under the moniker of Xasthur. He has said that he experimented with putting a roster around him to continue the project, but grew disinterested. In his words in early 2010, “enough is enough.”