It’s pretty incredible to reflect on how much Kvlt Kolvmn has grown over the last couple years, especially when it comes to how consequential it’s been for Heavy Blog’s coverage of the vast web of metal subgenres. What began as an outlet for me (Scott) to occasionally ramble about my…
Happy Halloween, 2017, from your nefarious friends at Kvlt Kolvmn! Hard to imagine a better day for this column to land near, what with all the ghouls, spirits, demogorgons and Eleven’s traipsing around with their sugar receptacles and real world terror encroaching from every corner of this planet. God, what a miserable year in so many ways. Thankfully, that misery has not extended into the world of black metal, which continues to drop sensational releases month after month. October is no exception. This month saw the release of several exceptional albums that not only continued to solidify the importance of black metal’s existence as one of the premier subgenres within the metal universe, but also its ability to offer complex, fierce statement of countercultural urgency. That last component is important for one particular album that screams thoroughly against some of the prevailing philosophical dogma that runs rampant in the darkest corners of the subgenre. Despite the most truly reprehensible portions of its collective ranks, black metal can indeed speak the language of justice. But enough talk. Let’s metal.
Folks, up here in the U-S-of-A, it’s finally starting to get cold again, and for me, that means a few things: one, wearing black jeans all the time instead of black jean cutoffs, replacing my personality with fun jackets, and listening to a shitload of black metal. The entire discographies…
In the 2000s, metal went through a strange phase. Scandinavian high octane melodeath bands found a shared passion for melody, hooks, and flashy guitar work with power metal bands as well new lyrical inspiration from folklore. Overnight, it seems metal spawned a whole scene with a new pool of clichés (well, sort of new) to exploit. Folk metal was nothing new at the time but there was a huge rebranding of it and every label was jumping on board. New bands popped up every year, some great and some boring as hell. One of these bands, Ensiferum, unfortunately introduced heavy metal’s most notorious edging expert, Jari Mäenpää, into the world. Jari left in 2004 to focus on Wintersun, but Ensiferum has continued its steady output of quality music since his departure. Their new album, Two Paths, continues their streak.
Literature has been one of the foremost sources of inspiration for metal lyricism and composition alike, regardless of subgenre. The list of examples is significant—Ernest Hemingway and Cobalt, Georges Bataille and Deathspell Omega, H. P. Lovecraft and seemingly everyone, and so on. Drawing inspiration from a novel is a challenging but relatively structured undertaking; a plot can be interpreted into numerous sonic and lyrical directions but will always follow the same trajectory of its narrative. Poetry contrasts this process by its very nature, as its natural code of symbolic meaning and suggestive prose necessitates musical decoding drawn from a strictly thematic place. Even poems with a decipherable narrative are often told in a verbose, indirect manner that challenges metal lyricists and composers to write with a liberated hand, looking beyond the words on the page to a deeper understanding of the poem’s true meaning and mood. Agalloch’s interpretation of W. B. Yeats is a stellar example of this process being executed beautifully, as is the latest offering from Ehnahre, a Boston-based avant-garde metal collective who count Kay Dot alumni among their ranks. Their incredible four-part song cycle on The Marrow captures the essence of Theodore Roethke’s eponymous poem* through consuming landscapes of avant-garde death-doom that are as ridden with despair as the poet’s initial musing on whether or not life is worthwhile.
A little while ago, Scottish atmospheric miscreants Falloch released This Island, Our Funeral on Candlelight Records. The record was a doozy, with our very own editorial darling Scott Murphy reviewing it and finding plenty to praise but enough to criticise also. By the end of the record, the black metal tag was long since painted over, with post-metal, folk and gaze sounds becoming more prominent. Fast forward to right this very second. Falloch have brushed the dust off their shoulders and blown out the candle on the last record with a refreshed lineup and delicately tinkered new sound. After sitting on Prospice for nearly a year they are finally ready to unload seven tracks of gorgeous, atmospheric music upon the world. Head on over the jump to hear the first track from the album, “Fata Morgana.”
New York-based post-black metal duo Mavradoxa made a quick turnaround with the follow-up to their 2016 debut, Sojourners, a record that wore its love for Agalloch and on its metaphorical and literal sleeves. Lethean Lament picks up right where Sojourners left off, and despite the brief period between releases, Lament is a fuller, more developed, and polished version of the band, one that also benefits from a much-improved mix. Essentially, Lethean Lament is what you’d expect from a quality post-black metal record: adventurously long tracks, gush-worthy cleans, charred in-your-face passages, and some tasteful string arrangements thrown in for good measure. At a glance, it’s a superbly-composed love letter to the the genre, skillfully pairing elegant and embellished passages with malicious affronts, while sharpening the effects of each against one another.
Well, it’s been a minute, but we’re back with a vengeance for another installment of Kvlt Kolvmn! Hope you didn’t miss us too much. But hey, who am I kidding? Of course you did. You may notice a different, less handsome and syrupy voiced face attached to our beloved Kolvmn this month. I know, major disappointment. I will be assuming the writing of this column for a bit, but never fear! I will try my best to live up to Scott’s sterling reputation for excellent black metal picks. That’s why we’re here, and what I intend to deliver to your anxious ears. Because it has been a few months since our last installment, we’ll be covering releases from both this and last month that are worthy of mention. So buckle up and prepare yourself for some black metal madness!
Production is a mystery. At a glance, it seems like a simple task: record some tracks, mix ‘em together, work out a couple kinks on GarageBand, and voilà! Album. The reality, of course, is quite a bit more complicated than that. To be successful, production must serve the music; there…
Full disclosure: by a certain metric, this recommendation post is coming in just over a year late. But virtuosic jazz guitarist Julian Lage is one prolific fellow, and has put out not one, not even two, but three releases in the time span between then and now. It’s not hard to see why; the man’s improvisation skills are stunning to behold, tossing out fully realized lead moments left and right with comfortable ease.