Archive for December, 2012

2012: A (Black Metal) Year in Review

Posted in black metal, musings with tags , , on December 25, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

2012 was a busy year for the black metal scene as a whole, full of ups and downs. Since it is the end of the year, we might as well get some of the end of the year business over with (and buy me more time to decide who to cut from my 2012 favorites list, which is going to be physically painful). I figured I would review some of the biggest news of the year for the black metal scene, myself included (since I’m a card carrying member). As a result, some of this may not be as comprehensive or quite always the biggest news of the year, but it’s news that I found interesting and/or relevant.

Averse Sefira breaks up

This summer, Texas black metallers Averse Sefira decided to call it quits, approximately one week after I discovered who they were. I was devastated; as someone who comes from that part of the United States, knowing there was awesome underground black metal in the area would have made me very happy. However, there is now one less awesome band operating in the south central United States, and fortunately Averse Sefira have left us with a great legacy. Their 2008 release Advent Parallax  is a strong note to end on.

Watain wins a Swedish Grammy

The world was supposed to end this year, and in January when Watain won a Swedish Grammy, I’m sure a lot of people thought that might be true. Watain themselves even cracked jokes about it. Watch it here; you won’t regret it.

[If you go to YouTube from the links, there are translations in the comments]

Nachtmystium is Nachtmystium, but they put out a pretty good album

Nachtmystium is like my own personal panic attack waiting to happen. I love these guys, but they are so unpredictable. This year is a perfect case study in that fact. Their new album they claimed was a return to their roots, and while it’s certainly more black metal and darker than the Black Meddle albums, that isn’t quite the case. Then, they actually started marketing themselves a little. Like, they have a Facebook page now, which is a big step. And Blake Judd claims that he’s going to get clean and that the band is going to be more reliable from here on out. But then there’s a huge family crisis and they have to cancel a big chunk of their fall tour, and then I read the other day that apparently Blake is not doing as well as he has previously claimed. Which is unfortunate. Nachtmystium is such a good band, and they really need to work on their track record for professionalism if they are ever to be taken more seriously.

On a side note, I actually got to see Nachtmystium this year (finally!), and I got to meet the band. Which I think is why hearing these sorts of things makes my heart hurt. They are really good people. I hope they can really buckle down and work things out in the future. The following track is probably my favorite from the new one.

Wrest goes on trial

Another of the big downers of the year was Wrest of Leviathan’s trial, in which he was accused of assaulting his girlfriend with a tattoo gun. He was found not guilty of the assault, but landed himself two years probation, and seems to have moved and burrowed for a while as he recovers from the anxiety and unwanted attention. Perhaps the only positive side of this story is the fact that a pretty good record was a result of it (2011’s True Traitor, True Whore), a record that is seriously one of the ugliest things I have ever heard in my life. Black metal indeed.

We tried to put Euronymous’ face on a plane

Back at the beginning of the year, there was a contest hosted by a Norwegian airline to put the face of a famous Norwegian on the tail of an airplane. Some smartass from our camp put Euronymous on the ballot, and between the metal web and Reddit (often acting in tandem), we managed to get him voted to the top. Ultimately his family declined to have their late son’s face plastered on the tail of a plane, and due to his rather… dubious infamy, the airline was, I think, relieved. Either way, we made it happen, and thus 2012 marks the year that Euronymous almost had his face on a plane.

Gaahl comes back to black metal

FINALLY. Am I right? The only thing worse than there being no Gaahl in Gorgoroth or God Seed was there being no more Trelldom, which I still hold out some hope for. And not only is Gaahl back, he hasn’t lost his touch. I haven’t heard much of it yet, but what I have heard of the new God Seed  album is amazing. I am really looking forward to seeing what Gaahl will bring to the table in the future; he’s very talented, and I’ve missed his work.

Trondr from Urgehal dies

Perhaps the saddest black metal news of the year. A long time staple of the Norwegian scene, Urgehal lost one of their founding members, guitarist/vocalist Trondr Nefas to a sudden death. However, the band’s statement claims that he died peacefully, in the woods in one of his favorite places. We should all be so lucky. Peaceful or not, Trondr’s death casts a shadow over 2012. We’ll miss you, brother. Rest in peace.

Behemoth’s Triumphant Return

Personally, for me this wins black metal feel good moment of the year. A little more than a year after their frontman Nergal  kicked cancer’s ass, Behemoth headlined the inaugural Decibel tour this spring. I saw the St. Paul show; the show was incredible and Nergal looked fantastic. Now Nergal’s got an autobiography coming out (it’s out already in Poland, I believe, but I can’t read Polish, so I will have to wait), and Behemoth is steadily rising from the ashes. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for them.

***

So there you have it. 2012 in a nutshell, or at least the biggest hits on my radar. Got a lot of ideas. Just have to get them typed up. Until then.

-Hagalaz

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Oh, look. The world is still here.

Posted in musings with tags , on December 23, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

So, the world didn’t end (at least I don’t think so. Maybe it did and I’m stuck in limbo and don’t realize it). And here I am, scrambling to get stuff done. Been working the past few days and between that and finishing up school stuff, I haven’t had hardly any time to do anything. I am almost done with my year in review post, and I’ll hopefully have that up tomorrow. Then I’ll get started on some of the other gazillion things I have planned (including, but not limited to, my 2012 favorites list).

In the meantime, listen to some Immortal. This album is probably my favorite one of theirs.

-Hagalaz

Songs for the End Times

Posted in black metal, musings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

Apparently the world is going to end on Friday, as Dec. 21, 2012 is the end of the Mayan calendar. I have my doubts, as the end of the calendar was always on Dec. 21st in pre-Christian religions, seeing as that’s the Solstice and the 22nd marks the start of longer days and the end of winter. However, there’s no way to really know until Friday, I suppose, so I figured I’d throw together a soundtrack for the end. I tried to pick songs that addressed the end times in a number of ways, whether that be through human means or cosmic, and from a multitude of mythologies.

1. Rebirth of the Nemesis- Melechesh

So if you’re a fan of Babylonian myth, you’re probably familiar with Tiamat. Tiamat is a sea serpent goddess who created the world but then decided she had rather eat it. The god Marduk tore her to bits, but legend has it that she’s really only sleeping, and will rise from the depths with Chaos on her wings. However, Melechesh advises not to fear the dragon; after all, she’s mother too (even if she likes to eat her young).

2. Pure Fucking Armageddon- Mayhem

Ok. So this one is pretty straightforward.

3. Stellarvore- Watain

“No star shall shine tonight; no star, no matter how bright.” The Black Dragon also makes an appearance in anti-cosmic Satanism “Stellarvore,” or “star-eater,” is a reference to what will happen to time and space after the Lady Dragon wakes up from her nap.

4. Anathema Maranatha- Funeral Mist

A quick Google search tells me that “anathema” means accursed, and “maranatha” means the Lord is coming. These words appear only in one of Saint Paul’s letters, and may be intended as separate sentiments even though they appear next to each other. However, it can also be understood as that those accursed are to be prepared for the coming of the Lord. Anyone who is anathema, or cursed, will suffer the wrath of the Lord on the Day of Judgement.

5. …And the Great Cold Death of the Earth- Agalloch

I thought I would include something environmental on here as well, since the end of the world could very well come around as a result of human destruction of the natural world. Although this song has a myriad of meanings, the line “we are the wounds and the great cold death of the earth” leaves little to be parced.

6. World Funeral- Marduk

Another way in which humans could be responsible for our own destruction is, of course, by blowing ourselves up. Although this song is more along the lines of the personification of war (Four Horsemen, anyone?), it fits in well with the theme of complete annihilation.

7. Maha Kali- Dissection

In Hindu myth, Kali is the consort of Shiva, the destroyer. She has embodied just about everything from loving mother goddess to bloodthirsty destroyer. In the context in which Dissection references her she is the latter, but not in a completely negative way. Dissection associates her with Mahapralaya, or the destruction of the untrue “reality” of our everyday lives that keeps us from achieving our true nature.

8. Hetoïmasia- Deathspell Omega

Another Biblical reference, hetoïmasia is a reference to the prepared throne. In Christian mythology, the throne is intended for Christ, who will sit upon it at the second coming. Clearly this is not how Deathspell Omega intends it, but the sentiment is the same- a throne to be prepared for a diety hitherto absent.

9. Blood Fire Death- Bathory

Of all the end of the world scenarios, charging into battle alongside Odin and Thor is probably one of the more fun ones. Like in the second coming, all false souls shall be slaughtered. Interestingly, Quorthon also presents this scenario as a sort of deliverance for the oppressed. It’s almost like the prophecies in Revelations that promised freedom from oppression for Christians; maybe since Christians certainly aren’t the ones being oppressed anymore, Quorthon is offering some of the same solace for those who still revere the old gods.

10. Astral Path to the Supreme Majesties- Inquisition

The Void. It’s what’s left when the Black Dragon devours everything else, the “abrasive swirling murk,” Chaos. But Chaos on a cosmic scale, the destruction of the entire universe. What will happen, then, a few trillion years from now, when the known universe collapses in on itself and ceases to be. Allowing then, of course, for new universes to form. And that’s about as hopeful as it’s gonna get.

***

So what do you think? Is the world going to end Friday? Will Hagalaz have to narrow down her favorite black metal albums of the year after all when the day dawns bright and sunny on December 22? Or will we all be devoured by the Dark Mother and the cosmos descend into Chaos? And what song/s do you find fitting for the end of the world?

(And don’t forget that keyboard cat is the last thing any of us will see before we die).

Until next time?

-Hagalaz

Ennui

Posted in musings with tags , , , on December 16, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

Yesterday I went to meet some kitties, because when I get back to the cities in January, I’m going to get one! (Kitties are totally metal). I also spent some much needed down time playing video games and having a nice dinner with a friend. As a result, today I’m completely swamped with ennui having had a big come down from emotional highs. I finished quite a bit of end of the year schoolwork, and I’m unhappy and exhausted.

So I will post soon (tomorrow? Probably) a playlist for the end of the world. In the meantime, enjoy this video of Niklas Kvarforth snuggling his kitty, because, as I said before, kitties are totally metal.

-Hagalaz

Some Thoughts on Depressive Black Metal

Posted in black metal, DSBM, musings with tags , , , , , , , , on December 13, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

Lately I’ve found myself listening to a lot of DSBM (depressive/suicidal black metal, for those of you who typoed and ended up here on accident), because, well, it’s perfect weather for it, yeah? It’s finals week, and my ennui over the past semester has peaked (and it’s been a rough one, moving to a new place, meeting new people, trying to adjust to the financial difficulties that entails). The Twin Cities are covered in snow (and about to get more). The holidays are up and coming, and they are fun, but they are also stressful. Everything at this time of year is full of contradictions, kind of like DSBM. Lovely and tormented.

[Surprise screams]

I’ve always liked DSBM because most of it is actually quite pretty. At times it’s incredibly heavy, and the bands that do it well create some of the most emotionally riveting music I’ve heard. I love the blend of beautiful and horrible at the same time- take Hypothermia for instance. Gorgeous melodies, with Kim Carlsson screaming in agony over the top of it. It also seems like a very healthy genre to me, honestly. The way I see it, it’s almost like pushing through depression and out the other side. There’s hope mingled in there, somewhere. Unfortunately the genre gets a bad rap sometimes, though, and I largely don’t think that it deserves one.

[We also do this pretty well in the U.S. This one is on it’s way to me, currently]

First of all, in the past several years “depressive” has come to be linked with “emo,” which is really quite ridiculous. This is silly; dark emotions are not regulated to some fad. And not only that, but this perspective has made it so that in past several years music culture has managed to trivialize depression and to stigmatize those who suffer from it. None of these guys, I think, are doing this to be cute. To dismiss this music because you’ve somehow gotten confused and conflated mental anguish with fashion is silly. DSBM is not emo. Scene haircuts are emo.

[Bleak]

Also, I think that some of the more… infamous, we’ll say, vocalists have caused people to steer away from the genre. I know I avoided Shining like the plague for a long time because Niklas Kvarforth put me off with his faked suicide. And a lot of them do tend to bleed all over the stage, pass out razorblades to the audience, etc. etc. These stunts can be a little much. However, you don’t have to watch that if you don’t want. The music in and of itself is often really, really good. (And besides, if you’re like me and you don’t live in Europe, good luck seeing most of these bands anyway).

[Plus, if you don’t like this, there’s not a whole lot I can do for you]

Another reason why I think that DSBM is often harshly criticized or dismissed by metal people is because its musical style is, often, not actually based in metal. A large percentage of DSBM is more grounded musically in post-rock, which lacks some of the signature moves of black metal: the tri-tone and the tremolo picking, to name a couple. A lot of it seems inspired by Burzum-esque, repetitive ambient music, but the darker aspects of the music aren’t clear on the surface in many cases. Lyrically and thematically, it’s very much black metal (lots of gazing into the Void, and this brand of depression has nothing to do with teen angst), but as most metal people are probably looking for, well, metal, a lot of DSBM may not be appealing to them.

[Musically this has very little to do with black metal]

I have, however, rather fallen in love with it as of lately. Particularly Lifelover, who I didn’t like at first (this has happened to me a lot. I also did not like Watain at first). I think I was wary because I assumed they were a lot like Shining because they were from the same place and were classified the same (silly me), and also because I didn’t really like the first song I heard by them. But now, NOW, I’m really starting to appreciate them. What a weird, wonderful little band.

[Right now, if I knew I was about to die and could only listen to one last song before I kicked the bucket, this’d be it]

Anyway, there you have some musings. Go listen to Skogens Hjärta. It’s perfect for the wintertime.

[The more I listen to this stuff the more I find that if you like this sort of thing, Kim Carlsson is your man. Anything he touches is good]

-Hagalaz

“You’re Listening Wrong:” Revisiting Misunderstood Albums (Funeral Mist’s Maranatha)

Posted in black metal, funeral mist, revisits, sweden, underground with tags , , , , , , , on December 9, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

(Thanks to Jamie for the title…)

It occurs to me that there are a number of albums out there that much of the black metal community seems to take offense to for whatever reason: Satyricon’s Now, Diabolical, Mayhem’s Grand Declaration of War, and Dissection’s Reinkaos to name a few. It also occurs to me that I tend to like these albums, for whatever reason. As someone who studies literature and is trained to pick things apart as well as my capacity for being bull-headed and enjoyment of playing devil’s advocate, I think that it would be both fun and enlightening to look at these albums, which Jamie calls the “stray mutts of extreme metal,” and figure out why exactly people have the aversion to them that they do, what merit they have, if any, and why it might be worth it to give them another listen (Note: I’m not going to touch Cold Lake. Even I can’t defend some things).

I figured I would go easy on myself and start this segment by discussing an album that is very near and dear to my heart, and that I feel like I know like the back of my hand: Funeral Mist’s Maranatha. Released in 2009, Arioch made us wait five whole years for the thing and then a lot of people were disappointed by it, which I’m sure was frustrating for everyone involved. So let us delve into the common criticisms, as well as what people are really saying when they make them, and look at the possible merits of the album. Then, maybe you will be inspired to give it another shot, or at the very least, you can throw out some specific reasons why it bugged you.

Funeral Mist- Maranatha (2009)

The Context: Funeral Mist’s Salvation, released circa 2003, is inarguably one of the greatest releases of the first decade of this century. Though a release mostly circulated through and to the black metal underground, Salvation was a milestone in the realm of Orthodox black metal (Arioch claims Ofermod as exact contemporaries and won’t take all the credit for starting the sub-sub-genre, but he certainly spear-headed it), and is considered by many to be proof of the salvation (see what I did there?) of the larger black metal scene. 2009’s Maranatha, by contrast, was lambasted by many of those same people, who, crushed, went home thinking that maybe Arioch wasn’t the savior they’d been hoping for.

last.fm

The cover is as ugly as what’s inside it. (image from last.fm)

The Complaints:

1)      It sounds too much like Marduk. Apparently. This is odd to me. I don’t think it sounds much like Marduk, although I can hear influence from Funeral Mist seeping into Marduk’s newer releases (parts of “Gospel of the Worm” from the new one have that kind of churning feel that Funeral Mist has). However, the reviewer I culled this from claims that Maranatha adopts too much of the blast beats and machine-gun fire from Marduk’s artillery (I’ll stop with the puns. I promise), and I am listing complaints. That’s a valid one. Too much leakage from outside influence.

2)      The experimentation on the album. Other complaints deal with the weirder aspects of Maranatha, mostly either how it was too experimental or not experimental enough. “White Stone” is particularly bizarre, and many people found it, and the rest of the album, to fail in terms of being compelling. I also read somewhere that “Blessed Curse” is 8 minutes too long. It’s a long song. It’s a little repetitive, and that preacher guy is creepy and annoying. Experimental albums are risky; these reviewers complain that the risks didn’t work out.

Another complaint that can be classified under experimentation is consistency. It is said that there is none, that the album is not coherent, that it feels scattered, the screams are too random, the thing is a muddled mess.

3)      It is contrived. This is a complaint I have seen A LOT concerning Maranatha. So it was experimental; many people also believe that the vocals and music just sound disingenuous. It doesn’t have the spontaneous ugliness that Salvation had, it’s too planned, too insincere.

What They Really Mean:

1)      “It sounds too much like Marduk.” Translation: “It’s too linear.” I don’t think Maranatha sounds like Marduk. I do think, however, that what these people are trying to say is that Maranatha is a very linear album. It has A LOT of blast beats. It is very forward-pressing. There are a couple of mid-paced tracks on the album, but most of it is in your face, brutal pummeling. But I don’t think that sounds like Marduk. Musically (atonally) I think it sounds more like Deathspell Omega. Abrasive swirling murk indeed. It is a lot more straightforward than anything on Salvation, however, and I think that this is what these reviewers are trying to get at.

2)      Complaints about experimentation. Translation: “This is weird and I don’t know how to approach it.” Experimentation is always risky. Throwing on a track like “White Stone,” which Arioch even contends is weird, is a big risk, especially when your fans are expecting something big from you. I’m not saying that you should like it just because it’s strange and Arioch worked hard on it, and this complaint really is a matter of opinion. I think that “White Stone” is creepy as hell; ugly and creepy is not always synonymous with fast and brutal. Arioch took a risk. Some people didn’t like it. “But Blessed Curse is 8 minutes too long.” Have you ever sat through one of those hellfire and brimstone sermons? They go on forever too.

Likewise, the consistency argument. The complaint here, I think, is that the experimental bits are throwing people off. How does “Anti-Flesh Nimbus” fit into all this? Is there a theme here? Is it about Armageddon, or the Black Death, or both? What the hell is up with that preacher guy? Assuming that the album was not meant as a concept piece, this complaint feels a little weird to me, but I guess I can see how it could feel scattered with a song like “White Stone” right next to “Jesus Saves” (that weird little bit at the end of that song is one of my favorite parts on the album).

3)      “It is contrived.” Translation: “It’s too clean, and it contains too much that doesn’t feel real.” There are a lot of moments on the album where Arioch is doing things with his vocals that no mortal man can do, regardless of how close he is with the big guy down below. So Arioch meddled a little with the editing on the vocals. There was some of this on Salvation, too, if you were paying attention, although there’s more of it here. I think that this complaint also fits in with the cleaner recording complaint that always comes up in black metal. Maranatha is not all that grungy sounding, and admittedly, a low-fi recording may have helped make it sound less polished and more to these reviewers’ taste.

BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, what I hear the most when I hear people complain about Maranatha is “But it’s not Salvation.” And therein, I think, lies the problem.

Why It Has Merit:

1)      The experimentation (yes, groan, I know). Maranatha is a highly experimental album that finds new ways to approach the same kinds of subjects that normally crop up in black metal. “White Stone,” for instance, is very dirge-like, and the vocals sound anguished, which fits the subject matter of being denied nearness to one’s god. “Blessed Curse” (I have sat through those sermons, I know) to me feels like a Burzum-esque atmospheric track that should allow you to get lost in its meanderings. “Anti-Flesh Nimbus” is absolutely lovely, and it’s unlike anything else from Funeral Mist’s catalog. Perhaps these experimentations didn’t go over so well across the board; the fact of the matter is, Arioch is coming up with new ways to represent these things, and is certainly not willing to let the genre stagnate.

2)      I feel that it is a very cohesive album. A lot of the songs, with the exception of the ones above, seem to be connected in terms of musical execution and theme. There’s this kind of madness through the entire thing that makes your heart race and your brain reel. This is the way the world ends… Ultimately, the song that sticks out like a sore thumb is “Anti-Flesh Nimbus,” and it is, I think, the best song on the album, so I don’t understand what all y’all’s problem is.

3)      It is UGLY. Funeral Mist is really good at creating soundscapes that sound like the bowels of Hell have just opened up in your living room. Maranatha is no exception. The title track, “Jesus Saves,” “Sword of Faith…” all of these and more are some of the most hideous cacophony ever. Funeral Mist has lost none of its brutality. “Anti-Flesh Nimbus” is horrific and beautiful simultaneously, and ties the whole thing together nicely.

4)      The vocals are really cool. Okay, so that one guy thought the shrieks and screams were random, but do you honestly think that Arioch would ever put in anything randomly? Sure, not everything could be recreated live, but Funeral Mist doesn’t play live, so I think we can cut him some slack on that front. Also, if you think of the album as a piece of art, I think you can allow the weird editing. Since “A New Light” will likely never be played live, can we not allow for the album to stand as a work of art? Is it really necessary to be able to recreate it in a live setting?

Why You Should Give it Another Chance:

This point I’m going to make in reference to Maranatha as an album but also in reference to the complaints and whingings: MARANATHA IS NOT SALVATION. It’s not. I believe that the number one problem people have with this album, the one that they won’t admit, is that they are upset that it is not Salvation Part II. Arioch did not intend to make Salvation Part II. He wanted to do something different. Try not to listen to Maranatha and always place it in comparison; I encourage you to listen to it and value it for its own merits, which are plenty.

Salvation was a ground-breaking and fantastic album, and it’s going to be very hard for anything that comes after in Funeral Mist’s catalog to compare with it. So perhaps we shouldn’t try to. Maranatha is an ambitious, experimental, ugly, beautiful album, and it should be allowed to stand on its own.

***

Anyway, I hope this was as fun for you as it was for me (I love analyzing things, that’s why I do what I do). I’ll be back Thursday with some other stuff.

In the meantime, give Maranatha another chance. (And then go listen to some Krieg; it’s excellent weather for it).

-Hagalaz

French Black Metal: A Couple of Influential Labels

Posted in black metal, black metal history, distros, france, funeral mist, labels, mayhem, underground with tags , , , , , , on December 6, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

For the final installment (for now) of my serial on French black metal, I thought I would address a couple of the French labels that have been very influential in the development of both the French scene and the black metal scene in general.

Season of Mist

Founded in 1996 by Michael S. Berberian, Season of Mist has become a quite famous label and distributor for black metal in particular, although they also release a lot of death metal, pagan metal, avant-garde, and all the other genres us black metal fans find ourselves listening to frequently. Although the label was started in and still has an operation in Marseilles, they also have a Philadelphia office and a partnership with EMI that helps them distribute in the U.S.

[Mayhem’s Grand Declaration of War was the first big black metal release from SOM, which initiated their taking on more black metal bands]

Perhaps the turning point for Season of Mist was their signing of Mayhem and subsequent release of Grand Declaration of War. A controversial album even among fans, this release had to have been a huge risk for the label to take (although I think the album has a lot of merit. There’s a post in there somewhere). Signing a groundbreaker like Mayhem always comes with advantages, however, and soon SOM found themselves with a slew of black metal bands on their hands.

[Like Rotting Christ. Season of Mist collects groundbreaking black metal artists like I collect Mayhem bootlegs]

According to Wikipedia, Season of Mist’s name originates from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and, yes, also the Sandman volume Seasons of Mist (in which Lucifer retires and hands Hell over to Morpheus). It is also a line in Keats’ “To Autumn.” I personally think this is really rad, as I study literature, and I think it’s very fitting for a label that largely specializes in black metal. For a genre that is so pensive and often references literary sources (ooh, I need to blog about that), a line from Shakespeare is a good fit.

[These guys were also on Season of Mist. Love this song]

Some cool stuff that Season of Mist has put out recently include Watain’s brand spanking new box set o’ vinyls, which looks amazing. They are also re-releasing In Solitude’s first album.

I have almost ordered something from their distro before, and though I completely screwed up my order (my fault, not theirs), they were very, very helpful in helping me sort out the situation.

[Sideshow Symphonies was one of theirs, too. This has been one of my frequent listens in the past couple of months]

Norma Evangelium Diaboli (Noevdia)

Norma Evangelium Diaboli, or Noevdia, is one of the greatest little labels that few have heard of. Begun on January 1 of 2005 by people who remain largely anonymous, but at least one of whom is in Deathspell Omega (yes, that Deathspell Omega), Noevdia has dedicated itself to distributing and promoting bands in the Orthodox Black Metal scene. Of course, Deathspell Omega themselves are very dedicated to their brand of metaphysical Satanism; it makes sense that a label closely affiliated with them would reflect that.

[Of course, they release DSO’s stuff]

As far as I can tell, Noevdia has yet to sign a band that is not completely awesome. Although they tend to stick with the Satanic black metal bands, they have signed the cream of the crop of that lot to their ranks over the years. Antaeus’ records were released on Noevdia, as were the works of Funeral Mist and Ofermod. Also on Noevdia is Teitanblood, who I didn’t realize I loved so much until just recently.

[How do I love thee, Funeral Mist?]

Noevdia’s website is aesthetically awesome. It’s all in pretty black and grey, and the images are really fantastic. You kind of have to do some investigating to figure stuff out as far as ordering goes, but then again, with the mastermind behind Deathspell Omega working for them, you don’t expect straightforward. It’s an old school way of doing things; you contact them by email and tell them your order, and then they calculate the price plus shipping. My experience with them this past summer was absolutely fantastic. They were very amiable and responded very quickly to my emails, and the turn-around for shipping was extremely fast.

[Spanish black metal. Awesome]

Noevdia is also partnered with The Ajna Offensive, who distributes their releases in the U.S. Typically, Ajna is my first stop for Noevdia artists, and hopefully I don’t have to try to hunt them down elsewhere (although I do attest to the label’s distribution. Like I said, they were wonderful when I ordered from them this summer). Please consider buying their bands’ stuff from them or from Ajna; both are small labels run by (really nice) people who are very dedicated to the music.

[“Cut your flesh and worship Satan”- Antaeus (if I don’t come back from MDF with that t-shirt, I’ve failed somehow)]

(Also, I’m aware that Season of Mist is re-releasing some of the older Noevdia catalog. I don’t know anything about it beyond that, but I will assume nothing nefarious until it’s shown me. If there’s a political issue with me discussing both these guys in the same post, let me know and I’ll fix it]

***

I’m working on trying to compile a best of list for the year, and it’s tricky. First it means I’m trying to listen to the new black metal stuff I haven’t heard yet, sometimes running into road blocks based on availability (as much as I’d love to just immediately buy them all, I can’t afford to). And then trying to pick the bests? Yikes. It has been a very good year for black metal. That’s a lot of pressure.

Anyway, that’s coming up eventually as well as other stuff. Until next time.

-Hagalaz