Blackgaze is now established; it’s time to recognize this and move on. What does this mean, exactly, to be established? It means many things but it mostly means that bands, and journalists writing about those bands, no longer have to “apologize” for using that name. It also means, perhaps more importantly, that the genre now has tropes, tropes created from the expectations of the not-negligible number of listeners the genre now enjoys. This posits unique challenges for any bands looking to make music within the blackgaze space but it mostly affects the veteran bands that have been operating within it for a while now. Think of the latest Deafheaven record; their change in style is a direct response to the pressures and expectations now working on the band.
But they’re far from the only ensemble to face this issue; Bosse-de-Nage have been, up until Deafheaven’s explosion into popularity, one of the most associated with blackgaze or post-black metal in general.
Guys, I really tried with Anthrax. I fully intended to write a defense of Anthrax as a Big 4 band. Ask my girlfriend. Ask the editors. Ask anybody who lets me talk about the blog to them. I really wanted to do that. I had a great plan! I intentionally started the Testament column with “ANTHRAX SUX LOL” because I wanted to write, “And whoever that idiot was who said Anthrax sucks can go play in traffic!” It was going to be so great. Self-deprecating humor is disarming, even if total comment thread dopes can’t understand tongue-in-cheek humor via the written word.
I had listened to some Anthrax records before, so I had some idea of what I was in for. “Sure, there might be some stinkers here, but overall I’ll find what I need.” And then I started listening. And I kept listening. Fistful of Metal. Spreading the Disease. Among the Living. State of Euphoria. When I got to Persistence of Time, a thought occurred to me.
I still can’t defend Anthrax. I just can’t do it.
We all come to metal for different things. For some, it’s the visceral rush of anger and aggression that permeates the music. Others approach the genre for its more technical merits. But if you approach metal to hear dark emanations belching their way up from a particularly deep pit of…