Non Plus Ultra
Released: 1999, Massacre Records
Reviewer: Nathan Robinson
Here we go again with another best-of, this time it's Atrocity. I still have a strong affection for this once great technical death metal band. Even though they've changed their style over the years and have been involved in various projects, I feel that they've always had something new to offer with every release. As I mentioned in the Kreator review, I don't care for best-of's, and I think they're pointless unless there's something else to offer like unreleased tracks. So let's see how Atrocity fares…
First of all, this is a double CD! For great bands a best-of would really be a box set containing every album. But while this would be ridiculous, the next best thing is a multi-CD set. Disc one is entitled "The Projects" and includes four songs from their '80s covers album "Werk 80", two songs from their techno-death collaboration with Das Ich "Die Liebe", and two from the ethno-metal project with Yasmin Krull "Calling the Rain". As far as these songs go, I agree with the choices from except the two chosen from the "Calling the Rain" album. These two tracks, "Calling the Rain" and "Land Beyond the Forest" were also on their third album "Blut". Yes, they do feature Yasmin and were slightly changed for their inclusion on the "Calling the Rain" album. But two different songs from the EP would have been more representative of what the EP was all about: spiritual, ethnic, folk music. So I would have chosen the two acoustic/percussive tracks "Back From Eternity" and "Migrant's Shade". Also included on this first disc are FIVE rare songs! Now we're getting somewhere. Atrocity pays homage to metal legends Accept with a cover of "Shake Your Heads". Although it is also featured on the Accept Tribute album, this version is an exclusive mix. In addition are two songs from the limited bonus CD "The Definition of Kraft & Wille" that accompanied Atrocity's fourth album "Willenskraft" for a very short period of time. But the two most interesting tracks were taken from two obscure compilations: "Siehst Du Mich Im Licht?" is a collaboration with Lacrimosa, taken from "Orkus Collection Vol. 1" (1997), and "Blue Moon" is a collaboration with Silke Bischoff, taken from "Zillo-Mystic Sounds Vol. VII" (1998).
Disc two, labeled "The History", contains the good ol' death metal material. Three songs appear from "Willenskraft" (1996) and are not the ones I would have picked. Instead of "Willenskraft", "Love is Dead", and "We Are Degeneration", I would have chosen "Under the Seal of Secrecy", "Down Below", "Forever and a Day" because they are just better songs. Three songs appear from "Blut" (1994), and these also are not the ones I would have picked. Although I do find it extremely suprising that they chose "Leichenfeier", the slowest Atrocity song ever that out-dooms ANYTHING any doom metal band has ever done!! What an awesome, dark, and disturbing song! Three tracks follow from "Todessehnsucht" (or better known to us Americans as "Longing For Death") (1992). Everything off this technical death metal masterpiece absolutely rules, so ANY song would have been appropriate. Only two songs appear from the debut technical monstrosity "Hallucinations". Again, this album totally rules, so any song fits. Also included is the track "Blue Blood". This song originally appeared on their 1989 7-inch EP by the same title, but this version is the 1996 re-recording taken from "The Hunt" EP. The disc concludes with a cover of Celtic Frost's "Procreation (of the Wicked)". This song is totally exclusive to this release and is Atrocity's last recording with drummer Michael Schwarz! Damn damn DAMN!!!! Michael left the band to concentrate on his grind project Belching Beet and punk project Accion Mutante. DAMN! I was very pleased to get my hands on this CD, but when I read this it just pissed me off! The interesting thing about this cover song though is the guys switch their instruments. So on Michael's last recording with Atrocity, he plays lead guitar! Great cover, although I would have preferred a different Celtic song.
But it doesn't end there! Each disc contains videos for a total of seven videos!!! Now this totally rules! Five of these videos were previously available in "The Definition of Kraft & Wille" box set. But not only was this box set hard to find, the video cassette format prevented us Americans from viewing it (unless you converted it from PAL to NTSC, which I did). These five videos are "Die Liebe", "Calling the Rain", "B.L.U.T.", "Love is Dead", and "Miss Directed". Just awesome! The other two videos are "Shout" and "The Great Commandment" from the "Werk 80" album. These two are previously unavailable and are live concert footage put to the album tracks. The "Shout" video shows Liv Kristine of Theatre of Tragedy up on stage with the Atrocity brothers.
If a band is going to do a best of, this is the way to do it…multiple discs and several videos and rare tracks. But no best-of comes along without disappointments. So here are mine: first of all, when the hell is Atrocity going to release all three tracks from their "Blue Blood" 7-inch on CD!?!? Not only do they rule, but they are truly rare as hell. I see an attempt was going to be made on the Massacre Records re-issue of "Hallucinations". Underneath the track listing on the booklet are the three songs from the 7-inch listed as bonus tracks. However, for some reason this idea was scrapped and four live songs were included. The back CD inlay card shows the proper track listing but the booklet doesn't. These three songs should have been put on one of these CDs. Also, although the booklet is a large fold-out, there are no band photos, no band history…nothing but photos of women scantily clad in metal! Now this is by no means bad, but I would have loved to see information on the band. And by the way…look forward to a new album relatively soon!