Archive for July, 2012

Concert: Nachtmystium/Murmur/Krieg/Deplorable Immaculacy (7/26, Des Moines, IA, Vaudeville Mews)

Posted in black metal, concerts, USBM with tags , , , , , , , , on July 29, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

So, Thursday night, Trisha and Jamie (who recently made a post about Nachtmystium- you should check out his blog here: http://jimmymacworld.wordpress.com/) and I went down to Des Moines to potentially see Nachtmystium. They had to cancel their set last year because everyone had the flu… or something, and since they tend to kind of be unreliable about actually showing up to things it was definitely a risk (but only a thirty minutes away one, so it was worth taking). Also, because of the recent cancellation in Dubuque, I have seen online that people are worried as to whether or not the tour is actually happening. Well, I am here to tell you that Nachtmystium IS on tour, they ARE playing shows, and you SHOULD go. Even all you trve kvlt people will like it. I promise.

The night started off with Deplorable Immaculacy, a local band from Des Moines who played Metal Up Your Tap a while back. They have a bassist now, and they’re still playing their brand of old school death metal (with some black metal moments and gauntlets thrown in). And their drummer has a Sailor Moon tattoo (which is AWESOME).

[This is still my favorite of theirs]

Right after Deplorable Immaculacy finished their set, we went outside for the obligatory smoke break/meet up with other people, and Nachtmystium pulled up. Within about eight minutes Blake Judd was up onstage playing guitar for Krieg, who was the second band to play. This is straight up USBM, and the vocalist is also the vocalist for USBM supergroup Twilight (also with Blake Judd).

[Silly name, awesome band]

Well, Krieg is phenomenal, and I bought one of their albums. I had planned on getting the new Nachtmystium, Silencing Machine, but they didn’t have it available for sale yet, so Jamie asked Krieg’s vocalist which album he recommended and I went for that one. It’s called The Isolationist, and I love that it’s white. It’s a fantastic album.

Krieg’s The Isolationist.

[Why don’t we add Krieg to the list of bands that are hard to YouTube search? They played this one the other night]

Murmur was the next band up, and they are also from Chicago. It was like a big party of the Chicago scene, which was kind of cool seeing as how members from all three of the bands played on each other’s sets (which may also be why this is a short tour. That must be tiring). Murmur is a kind of weird, experimental sort of metal. It was definitely a break in the black metal between Krieg and Nachtmystium, and it was cool to occupy that headspace for a while.

Last but certainly not least was Nachtmystium, who seemed determined to make up for last year’s cancellation. Wow! They were fantastic. And listen up, all you trve kvlt folks- I know you hated Assassins and Addicts, and whatever (I think Assassins is a really good album. The jury is still out for me on Addicts, which I haven’t decided that I like very much yet). Do NOT let that keep you from seeing Nachtmystium on this tour! They have been claiming that they are going back to their black metal roots, and they mean it. Not only is Silencing Machine coming out soon, accompanied by a hilarious throwback t-shirt whose design you might recognize, True Norwegian Black Metal fans, but the set list for this show was probably 87% old material. I think they only played “Addicts” off of the Black Meddle albums. Seriously.

The new shirt. From CM Distro.

[They played this new track, as well as another that hasn’t been leaked yet. Really excited for this album]

Jamie talked with the guy from Krieg for a bit and said that he told him Nachtmystium was deliberately trying to play mostly black metal again. I was surprised that there was no “Ghosts of Grace,” honestly- I expected them to at least play a couple of the songs that you can easily chant along to. There was, however, absolutely no disappointment. The set was amazing, the guys were having fun (Blake was grinning the entire time. It was adorable. He also looks in very good health, yay), and the vibe was a great one. More people should have showed up, but that has been my experience lately (Marduk and 1349? Hello? Twin Cities people, where the hell were you?). Perhaps all the black metal people are wintering for the summer.

[Try to not enjoy this. I dare you.]

The bands all hung out by their merch table after the show, too. I think I shook everyone’s hand but Nachtmystium’s drummer, who hadn’t made it over to the table by then. Blake Judd in particular was really friendly, thanking us profusely for coming out to see them, which is baffling considering how long I’ve wanted to see Nachtmystium. No, sir. Thank YOU. Really. What a wonderful evening of good friends and good metal.

So for all of you who are worried, yes, Nachtmystium is actually touring. Yes, they cancelled the Dubuque show, but they played Des Moines, so don’t assume they won’t show up to your local venue if they’re scheduled to play there. It is well worth it to look into it in case they do. You won’t be disappointed. Nachtmystium is truly returning to their roots, and they put on a wonderful show that was well worth the wait.

I’ll be back soon (because I don’t actually have a lot to do right now) with directions on how to make a back patch out of a t-shirt, which I just did. In the meantime, you go see Nachtmystium.

Later,

Hagalaz

Concert: Agalloch/Taurus/Velnias/Ezra (7/18, Omaha, NE, The Waiting Room)

Posted in black metal, concerts, neo-folk, USBM with tags , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

Sorry about the delay- moving is quite an ordeal. I had forgotten how time consuming it can be. Nevertheless, everything is moved from one place to the next and is *mostly* arranged, so now I can get back to what I was doing before, namely blogging and learning Latin.

Going to shows is also high on my itinerary, and last week I was lucky enough to get to catch Agalloch in Omaha. This was my first ever trip to Omaha, which was exciting, as the venue was in a nice little hip neighborhood and was very well-kept. There was air conditioning and everything! Ha! The bar also had televisions above it that showed the bands playing onstage, which is cool because you can go stock up on drinks and you still can see what’s going on instead of being subjected to something irrelevant like baseball.

Agalloch brought all of their stuff, of which I took several pictures so that I could show my professor from Environmental Lit what I was talking about when I said that Cascadian black metal bands are inspired by the landscape and the culture of the Pacific Northwest. They were touring also in support of the new Faustian Echoes EP, of course, so their pagany nature stuff had a sprinkling of the Satanic this time around.

That’s Faustian Echoes propped up there.

The first band up was a local band from Lincoln, Nebraska called Ezra. I’ve seen them before- they’re a really good band to see live. It’s straight up death metal, but the musicians have been playing together for a long time and Ezra is a very established band, so they have it together. I always enjoy watching them perform, and if I am feeling adventurous tonight I may go see them in St. Paul (there is a chance, however, that I could be more tired than adventurous. This moving stuff sucks).

[The death metal]

The next band up was called Velnias, and you know they are going to be good when their logo looks like this.

From their Facebook.

I really, really dug this band. They played a kind of sludgy black metal that was really slow and drug out. Also, there were no lights during their set- the stage was lit only with a few candles that they scattered about, and they burned incense as well. This was my great surprise of the evening, and I’m really glad that I now know of their existence.

[Velnias is your new favorite band]

Next up was a band called Taurus. Now, when you get up to the stage and you see that the band’s cabinets are Sunn O))) cabinets, you know to expect something a little odd. Taurus is comprised of two girls, one that plays the drums (with all manner of mallets and sticks, I might add) and the other who plays guitar/ambient fuzz and screams. They had a video of surrealist images that played in the background to accompany their set, which was full of long, winding, terrific noise. For me personally, like with most noise music I don’t know that I need an album of that, but watching it live was great.

[I can’t find them on YouTube, which sucks because I was hoping to show you the way they had the videos set up, but Taurus can be found on bandcamp, where you can buy their album for a very reasonable price: http://taurusisdust.bandcamp.com/]

Last was Agalloch, who came on when it was already starting to get late and played a really long set. The stage was decorated with tree stumps on which rested cauldrons bearing smoking incense of the band’s namesake, agollocum. The mood, then, was already set when they opened with “Limbs.” The sound was absolutely amazing- those of you familiar with Agalloch will know of all of the intricacies in the guitar. Well, it sounds just like that live. They’ve got a crap-ton of pedals up there, but everything they played themselves- no recordings, in other words. It was phenomenal.

Agalloch played a huge range of songs from all their albums, including “You Were But A Ghost In My Arms” from The Mantle, which they have never played live before this tour. That one was a special treat for me, because when I was writing about them this spring I focused on that album, and that song was the one that always got stuck in my head. As well as ALL of Faustian Echoes. I figured they would play at least part of it, but I never expected to hear all twenty-two minutes of it. Yet that is what they did. They also ended with Sol Invictus’ “Kneel To The Cross” (I swear there’s a poem “Summer is Icumen In” that’s in my medieval lit collection of lyric poems), which was very fitting both for the band and for the time of year (sweet, because when they played “Falling Snow” I admit to being a little depressed that it was 80 some-odd degrees outside).

[Not from this tour, but relevant nonetheless. You can hear how good they sound, and that’s what’s really important]

After the crowd went wild they did come out and do an encore, so keep that in mind. Agalloch responds to crowd pressure. After the show I got to chat some with Anderson, their guitarist, about English and PhD programs, which was cool. He was really nice, and I’m sure the other guys were too, although I didn’t get a chance to say hi to them. The merch this tour is sweet too- it’s centered around the new EP, and therefore has references to Faust on it.

The front of the Faustian Echoes shirt. You can see the Lucifer sigil on the left sleeve.

The back. I love that the spheres are on here, as one of my favorite parts of the story is when Mephistophiles shows Faust the heavens.

I also grabbed a copy of Faustian Echoes, and I suggest you do too if you haven’t already. I gave it another spin just today, and it’s as perfect as everything else Agalloch has done.

Front cover.

Inside. The CD is see through on the lettering. Way cool.

Fans of Agalloch, I don’t have to tell you that you need to try and catch this tour. I mean, these guys NEVER tour. And they are awesome. One of the best bands I’ve ever seen live, they incorporate all of the technical stuff in their music without recording equipment onstage, and you will definitely get your money’s worth- they played a very long set with something for everyone. I know it’s a short tour, so try to get to see them before they decide to be hermits again, and be sure and watch the openers too. In the meantime, I shall hammer out a review of Nachtmystium (who is also doing a very short tour, so a review will be quickly irrelevant if it’s not up soon), and blackmetallurgy will be back up and running (woo!).

Later,

Hagalaz

Armor Updates and Fall Tours

Posted in battle jacket, concerts with tags , on July 15, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

I have been working on my jacket again (finally- the Dead patch almost did me in but I have decided I can work on it again) and applied my first iron on patch the other day. It’s the Arne Babb patch I got with my copy of Metalion: The Slayer Mag Diaries.

This one.

Every time I apply a new patch I learn something new. This time? Iron ons SUCK. Seriously. I don’t think I’ll ever iron on another. The heat from the iron made the patch distort a little (you can see that the edges are a little bowed), which upset me a little, but I was able to fix that somewhat by sewing it into place. If you want to keep the edges from curling, you need to sew them down anyway, so I’m not sure what the point is of ironing them on.

The final product, after sewing for reinforcements. Those buttons might not all stay there, but they are there for now.

Either way, Arne is now on my jacket, but from now on I think I’ll just sew on patches, even if they are iron ons. The adhesive is kind of nice for keeping it in one place, but my experience with the heat makes me want to not risk distorting another one.

Speaking of armor, I also got my new Watain hoodie yesterday! It’s this one.

It’s not on Wolf Wear’s website anymore, so I might have snagged one of the last few.

It has WOLVES on it. It got some sticky stuff on it during transit from the packaging, but that will come off when I wash it, I bet (which I will have to, seeing as how I will be wagging it everywhere).

You can see some of the sticky stuff near the (stage) left pocket.

Blackletter is the bestletter.

I mentioned earlier that I felt that Wolf Wear was having some trouble getting their stuff out due to the sheer amount of people who had placed orders for the new Watain DVD, and it did take me a while to get my hoodie. However, I emailed them about a week and a half ago to see if they could give me an estimate on when it was coming and heard back from them fairly quickly and the girl who emailed me was very kind and apologetic about the delay on shipping. I didn’t mind so much- I knew they were backed up and considering the heat wave that’s hit the continental United States, it won’t be hoodie weather for a while yet- but it is awesome to finally have it in my hands. Considering that a Funeral Mist shirt is now in transit to me (it’s much too large for me to wear, but it’s going to become art anyway), my armor is about to get upgraded. I’m going to use the front of the shirt to make a completely awesome Funeral Mist back patch that is more fitting to me even than the one I have now.

In other news, the concerts are lining up for the fall! So many bands are touring that I’m interested in seeing, so here is a preview of shows you’ll be hearing about from me in the coming months.

July 18- Agalloch (Omaha, NE)

July 26- Nachtmystium (Des Moines, IA)

August 31- False (Minneapolis, MN)

Sept. 2- Korpiklaani/Tyr/Moonsorrow (St. Paul, MN)

Sept. 4- Abigail Williams (Des Moines, IA)

Oct. 5- Morbid Angel/Dark Funeral (St. Paul, MN)

Oct. 19- Septicflesh/Krisiun/Melechesh/Ex Deo/Inquisition (St. Paul, MN)

The Abigail Williams date I am unlikely to make, seeing as it’s so close to the Great Pagan Beer Fest of 2012 (Korpiklaani/Tyr/Moonsorrow), but I put it there just in case. I’m with my friend Jamie- I’m more excited to see what the band does after Abigail Williams is put to rest, but it would be nice to see their last tour. And yes, folks, you did read that right, INQUISITION IS TOURING. The other bands they are playing with will be cool too, Melechesh especially (there’s a feature on them in the works somewhere), but I’m more excited for Inquisition than Morbid Angel and Dark Funeral combined. Also, the fact that they tour in the same month allows me to forgive Dark Funeral for cancelling the show in February that Inquisition was supposed to open for.

Also, Obituary has announced a tour (though I have not heard dates yet), which is kind of awesome since they never tour anymore. And for you kids in Europe- you are super lucky. Marduk is about to tour Europe alongside Immolation, who are my favorite death metal band (and who are also really nice guys).

I will try to get this updated again Thursday, but I can’t guarantee it won’t be a little late this week. Between making the 6 hour round trip drive to Omaha on Wednesday for Agalloch and moving, I may find myself a bit behind. Really looking forward to Agalloch, though- I would love to chat with them about the paper I wrote this past semester and their new EP, Faustian Echoes. As a Renaissance drama scholar, I have a particular interest in the Faust legend because of its connections to Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus (plus, I hear one of them is also working on a PhD in English).

More as soon as I can get it up here (I will also be updating the distros page to report on my experience with Wolf Wear and Noevdia).

Later,

Hagalaz

Up and Coming/ Local Legends: False (Minneapolis, MN)

Posted in black metal, featured artist, local, new artist, release info, underground, USBM with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 12, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

Great news, everybody! The greatest band you’ve never heard of is going back on tour! False is an excellent little black metal band from Minneapolis, MN, and I have never managed to see them live so this news is great for me. They were supposed to open for the Wolves in the Throne Room show that was cancelled in August last year, so I missed them then, and then I had planned to see them in Oklahoma while I was home for the holidays and never could get the address in time (I had communicated with their drummer online but between them being on tour without internet access and me unable to leave to make it to the venue in time it didn’t happen). Just recently they opened for Negură Bunget in St. Paul, and neither me nor my friend Jamie knew about it (they weren’t listed on the bill). So FINALLY, I will get to see them.

False is straight up, underground black metal. They follow the Wolves in the Throne Room method of really, really long songs, and their self-titled EP, which featured two of them, was no. 14 on Decibel’s 40 Best Albums of 2011.

[This is one]

False is determined to maintain the DIY and underground ethic, too. Their albums are only on vinyl for physical copies, although I downloaded the EP online for $5 (which you might can still do as well. I do plan on getting the vinyl sometime, maybe when I see them, and *hopefully* get it signed. I think it’d be great to have a piece of local lore like that, especially from a band I love). They have been playing primarily DIY venues, so they can be hard to find sometimes. They also don’t publicize well, so I had no idea they were opening for Negură Bunget. I suppose, however, that will just make seeing them in August that much sweeter. I’ve been waiting for this for a year now.

[When they opened for Negură Bunget. Yes, their vocalist is a tiny girl. Which is AWESOME]

False has a new song out on a split with Barghest through Gilead Media that you can listen to at good ol’ Decibel. The split (on vinyl only) will be available in August, but it looks like you can pick up False’s EP from Gilead Media.

Give False a listen (and then get thee hence and to the nearest date to you!). Trust me. You won’t regret it.

Later,

Hagalaz

[Also, if you enjoyed my post on black metal lyrics (or even if you hated it and completely disagree with me), my friend Jamie posted a response on his blog. You can find that here: http://jimmymacworld.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/metal-lyrics-and-authorship/]

Review: Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal & Grindcore

Posted in books, death metal, grindcore, Reviews with tags , , , , on July 8, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

I just finished reading Choosing Death: The Improbably History of Death Metal & Grindcore by Albert Mudrian. The book is exactly what it sounds like- a history of death metal and grindcore. It details the grungy beginnings of both genres as well as the ways in which they intersect (which are far more numerous than I ever realized), the time when death metal and grindcore *almost* became popular, and the struggle that both genres have had in their attempts to remain relevant and interesting.

My friend Jamie’s criticism of Choosing Death was that it is a good book, but if you don’t know much about the bands and people involved it can get confusing really quickly. I concur- I know about the genres, of course, but I can’t imagine what it would be like to read this book if you weren’t familiar with them. Like I said before, they cross over in many ways, many of which I had no idea about. The four main bands, however, are Napalm Death, Carcass, Death, and Morbid Angel.

[One of my personal favorites]

I knew about the ties between Napalm Death and Carcass, but I didn’t realize that Mick Harris was responsible for getting many death metal bands signed. I also didn’t realize just how many death metal bands in the U.S. swapped members with each other. Because of all the band-cest going on, it can get kind of confusing, even if you do know the bands being referenced. It is really cool to see how the scene grew up, however, and how closely related the two scenes are. For instance, the book discusses the struggle that Napalm Death often faced as to what direction they would go in. Attempts to perfect the mixture of hardcore punk and death metal that made grindcore what it was caused numerous problems for the band, and often led to people leaving.

[Of course, everyone who was in the death or grind scene in England in the 80’s was a member of Napalm Death at some point. It was like a rite of passage or something]

Other aspects of the book that were particularly interesting to me was the background information on the producers and record labels that made mass distribution of bands like Death and Carcass possible. Earache Records was kind of like the underdogs who stuck by their bands until an ill-fated collaboration with Columbia in America. Many of the producers seem to have been really cool people who loved the music and the scene and were concerned with maintaining its integrity, but you also meet some unsavory characters along the way whose hope was to commercialize the music and try to get a death metal album on the Billboard charts.

[Good luck with that]

The Swedish scene gets a bit of attention, primarily in the form of Entombed, who have a particularly interesting story behind their personal issues with being signed to a large label. The book also discusses some later bands, like Arch Enemy and Opeth. Even black metal is mentioned a bit, but only for one or two pages and only for context; for instance, black metal becoming the new thing instead of death metal (I am skeptical that this has actually happened; it seems to me that both are thriving) and Darkthrone trading in their death metal roots for corpsepaint and spiked gauntlets.

[Some early Darkthrone]

The book ends by addressing the issue of whether or not either genre can really progress. It laments the endless supply of cookie cutter death metal bands (and there are tons out there), and suggests that grindcore cannot become experimental without changing what makes it grindcore. Bands like The Locust are suggested as the most experimental it can get, but I think that the new Napalm Death album (you can read my review of it here if you’d like: https://blackmetallurgy.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/review-napalm-death-utilitarian/) proves that it is possible for grindcore to still remain grindcore while incorporating new approaches (like having John Zorn play the saxophone on your album).

The pictures in the book are also really cool, as they have an old school ‘zine feel to them. They are black and white and cut and paste with several pictures often layered on top of one another. Also, the chapter headings follow this same theme, often with Xerox streaks on them as though they were simply photocopied and bound together.

     

My final estimation- Choosing Death is a very detailed history of the death metal and grindcore scenes, and is packed cover to cover with information. That may be my only criticism of it- it’s a bit overwhelming at times, even to someone who is familiar with the bands and genres. That being said, someone unfamiliar may find themselves hopelessly confused at times, although the book does provide a handy “cast of characters” list at the beginning of the book to help guide you (be sure and book mark that page for future reference while reading. It’s astounding how many death/grind guys have names beginning with “M”). The design and layout of the book are very cool, and I love the way they incorporated the DIY look. There was not as much on the Scandinavian scenes (although there was a fascinating section on Slipknot, which incorporated the band members’ views of death metal as well as death/grind musician’s views of them), but I guess I will have to get the Swedish death metal book to get my fill of that. If you are looking for a detailed account of the rise of two of the most endearingly obnoxious extreme metal genres and their glory days, give this one a look.

Later,

Hagalaz

Are Black Metal Lyrics Important?

Posted in black metal, lyrics, musings with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

Recently I read this (http://www.invisibleoranges.com/2012/06/review-deathspell-omega-%E2%80%93-drought/) post on Invisible Oranges about the new Deathspell Omega EP Drought. In it, the author says that he loves DSO’s music and appreciates what they do, but that he doesn’t buy into the Satanic element and isn’t interested in the lyrics at all. While I was writing my term paper on black metal, I originally claimed that lyrics were not all that important as many times they are indistinguishable anyway, but I later rescinded that opinion because I began talking about Agalloch and specific messages; although allowing nature to “speak” on the album through the use of deer antler percussion and samples makes one kind of statement, the gravity of a line like “we are the wounds and the great cold death of the earth” hits equally as hard.

Growing up I always was of the opinion that lyrical content was important- Nine Inch Nails has always been one of my favorite bands, and Trent Reznor writes such good ones. As I got more and more into extreme metal however, my dedication to knowing and understanding the lyrics waned a bit. As I mentioned previously, it’s hard to even make out what is being screamed 90% of the time. And if black metal truly is made by the atmosphere it creates, as Fenriz argues, then are the lyrics even important at all? My friend made the observation as well that sometimes the artists’ grasp of English usage is not as good as it could be, which leads to lines like Immortal’s “unending grimness and these mountains which I heart” from “In My Kingdom Cold.” And sometimes, the lyrics are in languages the listener may not understand, like Latin or Norwegian. Given these elements, is the lyrical content that important, and if so, when is it most important?

Does a band like Gorgoroth that doesn’t print their lyrics consider those lyrics to be an essential part of the music? Does the music itself channel the message, as the guy from Invisible Oranges suggests? “Carving A Giant” is one of the most terrifying songs ever, whether you can understand Gaahl’s screeching or not. But if Gorgoroth’s message is truly what is important, as they have claimed in the past that it is, then can that message be lost in the delivery of the music? I don’t know. I think “Carving a Giant” is pretty straightforward musically, but what about others?

My friend is of the opinion that lyrics in black metal are kind of like album covers- they are a part of the overall experience, but not really necessary to understand what’s going on. Instead, paying attention to them can help you grasp the overall concept presented. I can get on board with this in a lot of ways. Whether or not you know that Leviathan, Beelzebub, and Belial are princes of Hell (Lucifer is kind of obvious), Watain’s “Four Thrones” is clearly a chant in praise of a deity (or several, rather).

This lack of need for clearly vocalized lyrics is largely due, I think, to the complexity of the music itself. In other genres, like punk, where the songs are structured around a few simple chords, the lyrics have more room to shine. And they need to as punk is all about the message- fight the man, meat is murder, etc. A simpler song structure allows for that lyrical message to come across more plainly. But with a genre like black metal, which prides itself on complexity both structurally and philosophically, the lyrics can be overshadowed by the technicality of the music. Many times, however, the music seems to do the trick on its own.

[Allow Immortal to show you what “cold” sounds like]

Contextually, however, reading the lyrics can help. For instance, you don’t need to read the lyrics to understand that Arcturus’ “The Chaos Path” is about chaos- it’s one of the most chaotic feeling songs ever. However, reading the lyrics can help you to grasp that the chaos referenced is a destructive and Satanic chaos, a cosmic chaos, if you will, as opposed to the chaos of, say, Black Friday at the mall.

The same applies to Watain’s album Lawless Darkness. You can listen to the end of “The Waters of Ain” to hear what the Void sounds like, but to see it, you need the album cover, and to understand that to the band, this negative energy is a positive thing, you need to read the lyrics.

[“Take me home, ye beckoning ocean waves… Eagerly my spirit yearns…”]

So what about the religious stuff? Is it important? I mean, Deathspell Omega (we’ll go back to them, since they started this whole discussion) is clearly, if you consider the ties between chaos and theistic Satanism, a Satanic band. I mean, come on, it doesn’t get any more chaotic than this.

And if we know that, and we know that the chaotic ugliness and moments of soaring glory are meant to emulate theistic Satanism, do we need the lyrics? Is there any point in reading them beyond the fact that the guys in DSO clearly put a lot of time into coming up with them? Especially if it is the listener’s interpretation that is the most important to that individual person (I’m thinking here of all the artists who suggest that each person take away from the music what they personally get from it)? Well, I suppose that depends on the person doing the reading and the listening.

For me, the whole package is important. Music, lyrics, even album artwork, especially in the case of bands like Watain and Funeral Mist that do all their own artwork. While it may not be necessary to go so far as to do exegesis on Deathspell Omega’s lyrics, reading them can give the reader/listener a greater appreciation for how the band understands their own message. Also, it is interesting to see the way DSO presents that message through a subtle and specific twisting of scripture. Even if you are not religious in the slightest, I think the sincerity of the band members’ beliefs are channeled most specifically through the lyrical content, whereas the music more encompasses the raw emotions.

And if you still don’t get what a band is saying in their lyrics, does it matter? I say no. Art doesn’t need to be understood to be appreciated, and as long as it is affecting you in some way, it’s doing its job. Besides, it’s not like you can expect a band like Deathspell Omega to just tell you what they mean- they’re theistic Satanists, who are all about figuring things out for yourself. So, just like you must find your own way in your spiritual pursuits, so you must find your own way to comprehending black metal, whether you do that with lyrics, or liner art, or the feel of the drums. Lyrics make good guidelines and can help you understand, but only you can decide whether you will put in the effort to truly appreciate the art in front of you or not.

Next time I will probably talk about the death metal and grindcore book, since I just finished it. In the meantime, you should check out my friend Jamie’s blog! Jamie is my concert-going buddy and fellow black metal geek. He just joined WordPress and has moved some stuff over from his old blog. (Here: http://jimmymacworld.wordpress.com/)

Also, if anyone is reading this and feels like responding, I’d like to know what you think. Are lyrics a vital part of your black metal listening experience? Do they matter to you at all, contextually speaking or otherwise? Feel free to comment!

Until next time,

Hagalaz

Review: Naglfar- Téras

Posted in black metal, Reviews, sweden with tags , , , , , on July 1, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

It has really been a good year for black metal so far. Watain has a DVD out (I saw the DVD/CD at Hastings today, so apparently it is now widely available in the States), and we have fantastic new releases from Marduk, Master’s Hammer, and Ihsahn (yes, I’m aware that his stuff is more proggy. It’s still related tangentially to black metal, so I’m mentioning it), and new EPs from Deathspell Omega and Agalloch. Naglfar’s new album is also a great addition to the now, and only to grow more, substantial list. They are one of those bands that has always been around and always been perfectly fine, but they snuck up on me with this one. I bought Téras kind of on a whim; I wanted it, because I’d heard a couple of tracks on it, but typically I give bands I’m not very familiar with a few more listens before I take the risk of purchase (someday I will have a real job and this won’t be an issue). I’m really glad I did-Téras is a great little album.

The album opens with a title track that functions as part intro, part short song. It really sets the mood for the entire album, too, as many of the melodic lines repeat throughout the rest of the songs. I really like this approach- it’s one of the reasons why I love Emperor’s Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk so much. Téras, much like that album, functions somewhat like a symphony with recurring themes and cohesion throughout. The trills in the background of “The Monolith” seem to recur often, or at least the same feel appears at different moments.

[Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!]

“Pale Horse,” the first longer song on the album, is the track I had heard before I bought the album and probably the most immediately catchy. That guitar riff is quite the hook. All the songs have their own strengths, of course, but this one is the most easily accessible, I think.

Other highlights of the album include the track “Bring Out Your Dead.” Despite the fact that the title makes me think of Monty Python, this is a really good song. The drums are amazing, and the double kick on the bass drum makes for an unexpected treat.

[“But… I’m not dead yet!”]

Keeping in pattern with the symphony feel of the rest of the album, the last song, “The Dying Flame of Existence,” provides a strong final movement. The chorus of this song is for me the high point of the album. It’s churning and heavy, and the guitar riff slowly morphs in the latter part of the song to the same riff from the beginning of the first track. The album ends in the same way it begins, which makes for a really interesting listening experience. It’s not a technique I’ve seen often, and certainly not in black metal.

[Night, oh night! Eternal night!]

Another thing that is interesting about Téras is the artwork on the album. This guy adorns the front of the album, and he’s a scary fella, which is fairly standard practice.

The cover of the album itself, however, as well as the liner notes, does not follow the traditional black metal trend at all. Perhaps it’s because Naglfar is Swedish, and since Swedish black metal has not always had the extreme stipulations that “True Norwegian Black Metal” has had, perhaps that allows for more inventiveness? Either way, the liner notes and CD are very colorful, which is nice. It’s a volcanic landscape, so there is certainly a threatening element to it, but the colors themselves are brighter than you would expect.

     

[A splash of color for your kvlt CD wallet]

All in all I’ve really enjoyed this album, and I’m glad I picked it up. It’s another great addition to an already staggering list of strong new black metal releases, and holds its own in the realm of melodic black metal. Highlights for me are the continuity of the album as a whole and the powerful percussive moments. It looks like Naglfar may not have a official drummer, and I don’t feel as though the drums by themselves take care of the aforementioned percussive bits- the guitars and bass contribute to the hammering feel as well. I am going to have to familiarize myself more with Naglfar- Téras is a great release, and one you should pick up if and when you can.

Hagalaz’ Favorite Tracks:

Pale Horse

An Extension of His Arm and Will

Bring Out Your Dead

The Dying Flame of Existence