Let’s talk about Immortal for a second. One of the most well-known black metal bands because of the consistently-excellent quality of their output, Immortal has been kickin’ since the early 90s and was steadily releasing new music for some time (their last record, All Shall Fall, came out in 2009), until they announced their breakup earlier this year. But, despite this, Abbath, founding member of Immortal, and the band’s guitarist, vocalist, and writer, has stayed on peoples’ minds, for one simple reason: he’s just too damn good at what he does. There’s no way he’s going to disappear from the black metal scene.
Quite frankly, an abundance of commentary is not necessary for Stridens Hus, the sixth full-length from Norwegian black metal veterans Taake. This one-man project (maintained by Hoest) presents its M.O. very clearly from the opening tremolos of ‘Gamle Norig‘ – derive tactics from a familiar blueprint but produce quality material in the process. Stridens Hus is neither a late-career reinvention nor folly; it is merely a quality band maintaining the efficacy of their craft.
Depending on who you ask, America’s black metal scene is wounded but recovering. The young sect of atmospheric and post-black metal acts are flourishing, dividing listeners firmly on either side of the aisle. On one hand, Panopticon‘s latest outings meddled in swathes of bluegrass and Americana, contributing to the furtherance of black metal as a visceral and capable artform. On the other, longtime fans of the genre bemoan the fusion of post-rock and new wave made popular by acts such as Wolves in the Throne Room and Deafheaven as an “unneeded feminization” (their words, not ours) of black metal. It goes without saying, of course, that around these parts, the petulant line drawing and “stay out of my side of the playpen” mentality is frowned upon, as genre fusion and variation are to be celebrated. Nevertheless, there is an urge to see America export more bands that borrow from the Emperor and Gorgoroth schools of thought, and Minneapolis’ Astral Blood have the potential to fill that need while still flirting heavily with the Americanized atmospheric style of black metal.
O hay, it’s The King Of Procrastination! I’ve been letting the world of music pass me by the past couple of months as I’m creating my website and writing my horror novel and almost let the top of the year list slip by me. Luckily, Riddick the Cat called me up yesterday and told me to get the hell to work with this because I’m a “better interest to him than the human he lives with.” So there’s that. But, why shall we be bound to doing a list in a multiple of five? “Nay,” says Deadite, “Let’s beat the system and do eleven top albums of the year!” So dark, edgy, and kvlt.
Konkeror – The Abysmal Horizons
Hailing from Detroit, Konkeror are a no-frills death metal band. They self-released their album so it was a bit under the radar, but their blend of death metal that is influenced by Nile, Behemoth and older Morbid Angel is definitely impressive for a new band. Their production is top notch; and their riffing and drumming are tight, fast and bludgeoningly heavy. The occasionally middle-eastern influenced songwriting definitely evokes their influences heavily, but their sound is original enough to be recognizable. There is something distinctly oldschool about Konkeror, the drumming doesn’t resort to having fills at the end of every measure like a lot of modern death metal bands tend to, instead it’s usually a constant assault of blast beating. This might be odd for some newer listeners, but most old school death metal fans prefer this. At other times, the riffing is very modern in the sense of newer Behemoth, and the band’s juxtaposition of these styles in a way that alienates fans of neither makes them worth attention. An incredibly solid debut with great songwriting, The Abysmal Horizons should put Konkeror on the map with other big names of death metal.
Warning: This video contains gratuitous shots of half naked women for no apparent reason at random intervals. So NSFW or whatever.
Sometimes it’s good to be ignorant, for instance I was trawling YouTube last night and came across this video of Turmion Katilot, probably my favourite industrial metal band ever, released way back in December of last year. This lead me to find out that they have a brand new album (with some terrible artwork), Perstechnique, coming out on the 19th of February to coincide with the Finnish Metal Expo. The last time I’d heard from them, they were in a legal battle with previous record label, Spinefarm Records, which led to a lawsuit and the release of 2008’s U.S.C.H! as a free download through their website for a short time. As far as I’m aware this was sorted outside of court in the end. So it looks like the new album will be an independent release available to order through the band’s website.
Let me just start by saying this is not a list of ‘Best Albums’ or ‘Best Black Metal’ or ‘trOOest shit’ or whatever. There are way too many lists out there already and opinions are like assholes, as we all know. This is an elitist/douchism-free zone. This is simply six albums you should check out if you have an interest in black metal but don’t know where to start, or already consider yourself a fan but want to explore the roots and past of the genre, or wish to graduate to something more ‘true’ but aren’t sure where to start or don’t want to waste your time sifting through the duds.
These are my personal favorites from my own exploration into the mythical Norwegian Second Wave of Black Metal, the real crazy bastards who burnt churches and killed each other. There was plenty of controversy and violence during this era, and it spawned thousands of imitators in the years to come, but what people sometimes forget is that there was some sweet music being made as well, and that’s the main purpose of this ‘list'; to remove the focus from the scene and the people creating the music and bring it back to the music itself. Give these albums a shot if you dare, if only for your ongoing musical education.
In the interest of variety, I picked six different bands and limited it to one album per band. And again, this is not a ‘best of’ list; these albums appear in no particular order and are not meant to imply that this represents each band’s best work. These are simply six of my favorites from the early to mid 90s Second Wave of Black Metal, that can provide you with a jumpoff point for your own exploration. You decide what you like best, alright? Alright. Without further ado…
01. Epiklesis I
02. Wings of Predation
06. Epiklesis II
08. Have You Held the Fevers
09. Devouring Famine
10. Apokatastasis Panton
[11/22/10, Season of Mist]
If you’re not familiar with Deathspell Omega yet, don’t kick yourself-NOBODY is familiar with Deathspell Omega. The mysterious French band never plays live, has no website, and have only given a handful of interviews in their existence. They are not interested in merchandising, commercializing, or self-promotion of their avant-garde brand of black metal in any way. They don’t care if you know who they are, in fact, they probably prefer if you don’t know who they are. Their music is for the select few who seek them out. It is not ideal for mass consumption. This is a refreshing change in an era when “black metal” bands like, say Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth, are very interested in visibility and sales-see their commercialized symphonic take on the Norwegian formula, their comical videos, and outrageous costumes. Hell, Dimmu’s Galder is on the back of my Decibel magazine this month trying to sell me the Peavey 6505 amp. Now, that is not exactly a sellout move, but it doesn’t help his “black metal mystique“, you know? Deathspell Omega have no such problem, they require the listener to focus entirely on the art itself and not the people who create the art.