There are so many ways in which I can start this review but let me choose the most blatant one: if you think politics don’t belong in music, and especially in metal, you have no idea what you’re talking about. First, music is inherently political because everything is inherently political. Only the powerful, for whom power is invisible (which is what is arranged and controlled with politics) think that politics belong in a nice little box. Second, metal has always been (or at least, some of it, the good part of it, has always been) about rebellion and calling authority into question. What’s more political than that? And, lastly, why not make it political? What exactly is lost when we do that? I never understood that point; art describes and comments on life and politics is part of life. Therefore, art that incorporates politics is more complete and more beautiful for doing so.
All of this to say that Feminazgul is an inherently political band and their debut, full length release No Dawn For Me is such as well. This can be easily deduced from the naming convention at play here; Feminazgul are unapologetically feminist and rightfully so. The time for apology is long over. It also helps that they make incredible black metal, possessed of an epic quality very much in keeping with the genre’s natural affinities but also of a unique and mournful tone that is wholly their own. No Dawn For Me is them making good on the promise made with their EP, fully realizing their vision and expanding it to an even grander scale.
The best example is probably “The Rot in the Field is Holy”, my favorite track from the album. It features the multiple instruments and techniques which Feminazgul use to make their music unique. First off, it has prominent violin running across it, working very well with the tremolo picked, lo-fi hum of the guitars in creating the mass of the track. Secondly, it has those undeniable choirs which serve to set the massive canvas on which the rest of the music operates. And lastly, it has the theremin; by Jove, that theremin! The instrument’s iconic (and perhaps infamous) sound works so well with the music, operating in the extremely high ranges as a sort of beacon which rises up from the music to spread its light on it all. It creates an eerie air to the track, clashing with the choirs and setting them in contrast, creating a sort of intricate, multi-layered complexity to the crescendo of the track.
Throw in extremely well executed, “traditional” black metal sounds (like abrasive vocals which set your stomach churning, furious blast-beats and momentum) and you get one of the album’s high points. But No Dawn For Me also has more mournful, soulful facets to it, like the beautiful “Bury the Antlers With the Stag” which channels a more atmospheric sort of black metal. The vocals climb a bit higher in the register, the drums retreat to a supporting, classically black metal role, and the guitars are allowed to unfurl in all their frost-bitten wonder. The result is more akin to Pacific Northwest acts and works very well with the track which preceded it and its condensed chaos.
No Dawn For Men then is recognizably a black metal release and that’s a great thing; its treatment of the genre is admirable and accomplished. But it also features the band’s unique take on composition and instrumentation for the genre. And, last but not least, it also features their politics, a much needed and welcome cry for justice and retribution on behalf of those who suffer. Thus, No Dawn for Men is quintessentially metal as we would like it to be: rebellious, uncompromising, personal, unique, and beautiful.
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No Dawn For Men released on the 17th of March. You can head on over to the band’s Bandcamp above to grab it. As well you should! Now, more than ever, remember to support independent artists.