Black metal has arguably the most eclectic genre palette in the metal pantheon. Though simple at its core, the genre’s aesthetics have been applied to countless concepts and shaped to include a multitude of other genres and accompanying instrumentation. Yet, the guitar still remains the one constant element in nearly all iterations of the genre, whether as a lo-fi wall of distortion or thundering gallop over equally blistering blast beats. It’s a rare occurrence when a band decides to forgo this six string staple; the only example this reviewer is aware of is Botanist, who instead opt for hammered dulcimers and harmonium. But when a guitar-less black metal album does surface, fans of the genre typically take notice to see if the experiment pays off. As such, the union of piano and drums in unholy matrimony on Wreche’s self-titled debut makes for an intriguing experience that’s deserving of at least an exploratory listen.
In some circles, USBM has long been a dirty acronym. Much reviled for its less-than-trve-kvlt aesthetic, black metal originating from the United States has seldom been considered an equal with its European peers. Over the past decade, several bands have begun to chink away at the wall of cynicism surrounding USBM to varying degrees of success. Nightbringer is one of these bands. If you have not heard their music before, think the bombast of Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk-era Emperor, coupled with a slightly less insane mix of Deathspell Omega’s freneticism, the sonic oddness of Dodheimsgard, and the chilling atmosphere of Blut Aus Nord.
For most New Englanders, winter is pinnacle of all that is horrible and tedious about living in the Northeast—it’s full of dark days, cold weather, abundant strains of the flu, and more shoveling-related back injuries than you can count. To be fair, though, I actually like it. I adore the…
Season of Mist teamed up in 2014 with Drudkh frontman Roman Sayenko to remedy the implicitness of folk tradition within black metal. Together, they gave us an underrated gem of an album called One and All, Together, for Home. It is nothing else but a collaboration album spanning various traditions, sounds and histories to shine a light on some of the folk music that acts as fuel for black metal. The roster includes the aforementioned Primordial, but also Haive, Winterfylleth, Kampfar and more. Together, they’ve compiled an album made up of a rich tapestry of styles, from true-to-source renditions of ancient songs to more metal oriented interpretations of said melodies. The guidelines for the contributing acts seem to have fast and loose and thus, the album features varied and disparate approaches, lending it a strong sense of personal, creative identity.
For those who missed our last installment, We post biweekly updates covering what the staff at Heavy Blog have been spinning. Given the amount of time we spend on the site telling you about music that does not fall neatly into the confines of conventional “metal,” it should come as no surprise that many of us on staff have pretty eclectic tastes that range far outside of metal and heavy things. We can’t post about all of them at length here, but we can at least let you know what we’re actually listening to. For those that would like to participate as well (and please do) can drop a 3X3 in the comments, which can be made with tapmusic.net through your last.fm account, or create it manually with topsters.net. Also, consider these posts open threads to talk about pretty much anything music-related. We love hearing all of your thoughts on this stuff and love being able to nerd out along with all of you.
With cold, treble-tipped tremolo riffs, agonized rasps and Satanic imagery, black metal might seem like the farthest thing from acoustic folk. But despite their distance, acoustic guitar has slowly crept into black metal since its unholy birth, even with the strict cultural norms that once governed the sound and image of black metal. Interestingly, the use and purpose of acoustic guitars in black metal is not random, but traces patterns across the evolution of black metal, from Bathory to Panopticon.
It’s tough for one-man projects to remain consistently exciting: often, their singular nature tends to bog down a sense of advancement or diversity across their sonic explorations. The problem with letting one mind have total creative control is that only one person is in charge, and that there’s only one…
Black metal in of itself is always somewhat of a corundum as a genre. On one hand, there are strict purists, adhering to tradition and believing anything outside of that is simply an attempt to cash in on the aesthetic. However, on the other hand, there is the entirety of the movement of “post black metal”, pushing the boundaries of what the music can be and taking it in exciting new directions. Neither of the styles are particularly better than the other nor is either ever truly dominant in the context of the scene. Instead, the two vie for control of black metal’s sudden increase in popularity, a constant push and pull. And, existing somewhere in between that push and pull, has always been Winterfylleth, a band whose sound is rooted in the symphonic black metal of acts like Emperor but has a distinct post-black metal flavoring. It has been a sound that has carried them effectively thus far but with The Dark Hereafter seems to be in a place of uncomfortable flux.
How many black metal bands in the past have proven to be truly progressive, innovative or even avant garde? You might find several bands that fit that niche. Even some big acts in black metal could be included under the Progressive black metal umbrella, such as Enslaved and Ihsahn. Let’s turn our attention to Black Hate now. Hailing from Mexico, the promising group have released an album that pushes the “black metal” label in directions seldom seen. With Through the Darkness we have an album that breathes new life into tired black metal tropes and dares to stand on it’s own. So what do they do differently that sets them apart from their peers? What can we correlate Through the Darkness with to find out what makes it unique?
When four young lads first got together in Liverpool, they had no idea that some enthusiastic yelping and screaming, two guitars, bass and drums could spark a revolution. They didn’t suspect that four working class chaps could form a rock ‘n’ roll band and make a set of records that would influence countless bands and encompass multiple styles, and write songs that people would still be enjoying decades later. This band, of course, is Carcass. Yes, there was that OTHER band, The Beatles, who did all those things, too. But this is an extreme metal blog, and in this existentially hellish alternate universe, Carcass may well be The Beatles.
As Carcass prepares to undertake a tour with “love ‘em or hate ‘em” blackgaze critical darlings Deafheaven, some of you may be wondering how we got here. Well, keep in mind that The Beatles’ own John Lennon spent a lot of time with more out-there avantish types in the 70s, too. He cranked out some borderline unlistenable noise with Yoko Ono which is, frankly, far less palatable than Deafheaven; but there’s admittedly a lot of screeching in both. If you’re surprised that Carcass made this choice, well, shows how much you know about Carcass.
Wait—John Lennon and Deafheaven what?