Archive for the funeral mist Category

Review: Funeral Mist- Trisagion Box Set

Posted in black metal, funeral mist, Reviews, sweden, underground with tags , , , , , , , on February 24, 2014 by blackmetallurgy

As I’m sure you all figured, I pre-ordered the Funeral Mist box set the instant I saw that I could. At $80, the price was pretty steep, but I’m happy to report that it was worth every penny. For your bunch of cash, you get all of Funeral Mist’s releases to date on vinyl; Salvation and Maranatha come in double LPs, whereas the Devilry EP only has one record due to its abbreviated length. Unfortunately, as I reported before, the Havok demo does not come attached to the Devilry EP.

The box. My inner five year old really loves the texture of it.

The box. My inner five year old really loves the texture of it.

However, there is more than enough here to make up for that bummer. First of all, the box itself is very nice, with a sleek cover and a track-listing on the back. The set comes with a huge poster (that is a really awkward size; thanks, Sweden) and a patch, along with the three LPs.

Funeral Mist patches. A rare thing.

Funeral Mist patches. A rare thing.

Seriously guys. This poster is really big. Like, REALLY big.

Seriously guys. This poster is really big. Like, REALLY big.

The layout on the LPs is nice too- they’ve all been rendered with black inner panels and very little decoration. It’s simple, but it’s damned classy. And it’s not just the packaging that’s pretty. These records sound glorious, even on my tiny, mediocre turntable. Those of you who own the CDs of Funeral Mist’s albums can sympathize when I say that they are not exactly the best sounding recordings; they’re a little noisy, perhaps a little too low-fi? The records that come with Trisagion, however, have a very warm sound, and I’ve been hearing parts I haven’t really noticed before.

The records. (They didn't come with sleeves. I put them in sleeves because I figured I'd have them out a lot.)

The records. (They didn’t come with sleeves. I put them in sleeves because I figured I’d have them out a lot.)

And the backs.

And the backs.

You can see the theme here, I assume. Lots of black. But it's very sleek-looking, and I like it.

You can see the theme here, I assume. Lots of black. But it’s very sleek-looking, and I like it.

Black vinyl also. The sleeves that the records themselves come in are also really nice, with plastic on the inside to help protect the vinyl.

Black vinyl also. The sleeves that the records themselves come in are also really nice, with plastic on the inside to help protect the vinyl.

The liner notes come in the form of a single booklet. I mused a little about what this booklet could contain back when the announcement was first made about the release, and it is pretty much just the lyrics for the songs. It is a very nice booklet, though, printed on heavy paper and featuring what I assume is more of Arioch’s graphic design work.

III

III.

20131221_234924

Latin practice, anyone?

All and all, I feel like Trisagion was worth every penny I spent on it. I know a couple of people who complained that the $80 Ajna was asking for it was a bit much, but I think for three collector’s editions of really rare albums in gatefold double-LPs that sound excellent it’s not a bad deal at all. Plus, you get all the other cool stuff that comes with it (Funeral Mist doesn’t exactly crank out the patches. That’s why I had to make my own). I’m really, really happy with this boxset, and I’m glad that I can finally listen to Circle of Eyes on vinyl.

$80 of awesome.

$80 worth of awesome.

Advertisements

2013: A Black Metal Year in Review

Posted in black metal, black metal history, concerts, DSBM, festivals, france, funeral mist, mayhem, memorial, musings, norway, sweden, true norwegian black metal, underground, united states with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2013 by blackmetallurgy

2013 was a year full of ups and downs for me, personally; this blog actually seems to be getting some attention, and I am getting to use it to help get the word out on some of my friends’ projects, which is cool. I have also been investigating the Twin Cities metal and punk scenes, which has made me lots of new friends and has ensured that I have seen a staggering amount of live music this year, particularly this summer. Burning Fist is publishing some of my reviews, which is totally amazing, and I still have other reviews on the table for other people, not to mention the ones I have yet to finish for this (Inquisition?). I have also finally melted down in pretty much the most awful anxiety-ridden puddle of despair that I’ve been in, which is impressive, considering the past couple of years, and I’m finally starting to claw my way out of that. That, mixed with taking on entirely too much this past semester because I might be an idiot, has ensured that I am way behind on updating, and that I have neglected this blog far more than I would have liked in the past year. But no more. I’m going to fix that. Next semester shall be less crazy, and I still have a pile of new albums I’d like to blather about.

Anyway, things have also been broiling in the black metal world lately. Between more run ins with the law, attention being paid to great underground bands, and the past rearing it’s head, a lot has happened in 2013. So without further ado, enough about me. Let’s talk about…

20 Year Album Anniversaries

This year contained the anniversary years of a lot of amazing albums. Some of the heaviest hitters, of course, being Immortal’s Pure Holocaust and Darkthrone’s A Blaze In the Northern Sky (the latter has been spinning in my car lately, it being Minnesota and winter and all). Next year, of course, will see the 20th anniversary of De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. May have to get myself a vinyl of that to celebrate (and by may, I mean, will, of course).

Obscure, Fantastic Black Metal is Seeping Into the States

Maryland Deathfest has just been an absolute hotbed for great black metal lately, and obscure stuff, too. This past year saw Aosoth and Antaeus playing sets on the same day (poor guys must have been exhausted. I was exhausted, and I was just watching them), along with fellow countrymen Glorior Belli and the incredible Ascension, whom I had never before heard of and stand very much corrected. Upcoming in 2014, MDF has plans to host Mgla, Enthroned, and Taake, just to name a few. Hopefully Hoest can stay out of trouble for long enough to play a set in Baltimore, and hopefully he will have pants (dear god, let him have pants. I’ve already seen more of that guy than I want to).

Black Metal Pop Culture Is At Its Height

Black metal is gaining popularity outside the underground, for better or worse (hipsters are the new core kids, I ‘spose). However, this is not always a bad thing. Vegan Black Metal Chef, for instance, is working on a cookbook, and metal cookbooks are the best. Likewise, we got a multi-part web documentary on one man black metal projects that was quite illuminating. While the fascination of those whom Nathan Explosion would refer to as “regular jackoffs” has resulted in such happenings as the short film on black metal that aired early this year that I ultimately decided I couldn’t be okay with, this interest in black metal has also resulted in such awesomeness as the brand spanking new book, Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult. My copy just arrived in my hot little hands today, and my, if it doesn’t seem like a treasure trove. Have already heard great reviews from a trusted source on the Mayhem bits, and anyone who actually sees fit to provide Funeral Mist with their deserved place in the canon has my full attention. Looking forward to devouring this thing in the time left before school starts. And speaking of Funeral Mist…

Funeral Mist is Alive

It lives! Arioch has seen fit to bless his followers with a box set that is pretty much of epic proportions. I am going to do an actual in depth review of the thing soon, but for the time being, suffice it to say that it is an extremely nice edition, and the sound is much improved, at least from the CDs that I have. Trisagion is a beautiful thing, not least of all because it is proof that Funeral Mist is still alive and kicking, at least for a while longer.

Varg Gets, Predictably, and Actually Seemingly Unfairly, Arrested. Again.

Back in July of this year, infamous murdering racist creepy DnD-picture-staging weirdo Varg Vikernes was arrested, again, along with his wife. Vikernes was stockpiling guns, apparently, and was, predictably, taken into custody because when you’re a famous, high profile criminal, and you’re stockpiling weapons, that’s what happens. From the reports that I’ve read, however, it seems to me that Vargy Varg is actually innocent of doing anything wrong this time. Nevertheless, Varg now has one more arrest on his record. Wonder what the French black metal guys think of him?

Varg Quits Black Metal. Again.

Apparently everyone’s favorite church arsonist is also throwing in the towel in terms of composing black metal, again. As anyone who’s followed Burzum for longer than twenty minutes can tell you, this is not an uncommon occurrence. He’ll probably be back. But just in case he’s not, Varg’s played himself out with this little ditty, which is, once again, quite lovely.

The Lid Finally Blows Off on Blake Judd’s Shenanigans

Blake Judd, notorious frontman of Nachtmystium, found himself having a very bad year indeed despite an apparently successful comeback last year that I actually blogged about. Silencing Machine made it onto my list of best albums for 2012, utilizing an original approach that blended black metal and industrial music, Mr. Judd got married, and everyone was so happy to hear that he was finally recovering from his legendary drug addiction. This year, Nachtmystium has been put on indefinite hiatus, rumors are circulating that Judd stole the name and project behind Hate Meditation (whose new release, Scars, is not bad at all), apparently his wife divorced him, and last I heard, he was behind bars in Cook County jail for ripping off countless people who never got the merch and stuff that he’d promised them, having tied up all of their money in… something. Projects. Drugs. Who knows. I don’t. All I know is that I met the guy last year, and he was really cheerful and nice to me and J, and I am sad to hear about all this, because it always sucks to find that people are not as nice as you thought they were.

Kim Carlsson Dyes Hypothermia Shirts With His Own Blood

Yeah. So that happened early in the year. Fascinating stuff; I decided, however, that Kim and I are just not close enough yet for me to feel comfortable owning a shirt that’s been mixed in his blood. And by that I mean that I don’t know him at all. They are one of a kind anyway. (And there aren’t any more available. Kim has, obviously, a limited amount of materials to work with).

Watain Writes A Ballad

And it’s pretty damned good, I think.

Rest in Peace, Euronymous

I didn’t do a special post in his honor like I do normally, probably because August 10th was about the epicenter of my depressive meltdown that had been oncoming for about a year and a half. Nevertheless, we should always strive to remember our fallen brothers. Hail, Euronymous. Rest in peace.

***

And yes, actually, I’m listening through the new Horna right now, trying to scramble to hear as much new black metal as I can to draft your best of list. (Why does this track sound like Watain?)

-Hagalaz

Funeral Mist Releases a Box Set!

Posted in black metal, funeral mist, marduk, sweden, underground with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2013 by blackmetallurgy

** UPDATE: I have learned that apparently the drop date will be sometime in December (no word on an exact date yet). Also, the Havok demo will NOT be packaged with the Devilry EP like on the CD.**

*Edited because I didn’t put an exclamation point at first. And Funeral Mist deserves at least one exclamation point)

Guys. YOU GUYS. A friend of mine shared an image on Facebook yesterday telling me that Noevdia is issuing a Funeral Mist box set sometime in November/December!

This is the image making the rounds on Facebook

This is the image making the rounds on Facebook

That’s right, kids. Gatefold double LPs (I’m intrigued to know if the Devilry album will also have the demo material on it like the CD version). Also, there is going to be a 28 page booklet of… something. What do you make a booklet of if the band doesn’t perform live? Arioch’s artwork? Because that would be really cool. And a poster, and a patch. Finally! So all the other little Funeral Mist fan-boys and girls don’t have to make their own Funeral Mist patch out of an oversized shirt.

As I’m sure you know, Funeral Mist is pretty much my most beloved metal band alongside Mayhem. And therefore, I’m sure you also have inferred that I’ve already pre-ordered my copy (there’s no official release date yet that I know of). Overseas folks, talk to Noevdia. US fans, the Ajna Offensive’s got us covered (to ship to Minnesota it’s going to cost me about $12, or at least that’s the estimate). This is a huge deal, guys, as these things (I assume) are pretty limited, will sell like hotcakes, and will be a rare chance for those of us who don’t have any Funeral Mist vinyl to get our hands on really nice editions.

“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

The ABCs of Black Metal (Round One)

Posted in black metal, colombia, DSBM, finland, france, funeral mist, local, musings, norway, poland, sweden, true norwegian black metal, underground, united states, USBM with tags , , , , , , , on October 28, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

So about a month ago on Facebook I decided I would do an ABCs of black metal. It started out with me thinking I wanted to post Averse Sefira, and then it went from there. I figured I would document that here, in case anyone else was interested. I might do it for albums and songs too, someday. My goal was to pick bands that were not the obvious answer, and as a result I found some pretty cool stuff out there (I was not going to post Xasthur for X, for instance; I was determined to find something else, no matter how obscure). So here you go:

A is for Averse Sefira (US)

B is for Behexen (Finland- they have a new one out!)

C is for Craft (Sweden)

D is for Deathspell Omega (France- this might be the obvious choice for me, but it’s not Darkthrone)

[From the new EP]

E is for Enslaved (Norway)

[This one is also new]

F is for Funeral Mist (Sweden)

F is also for False (US)

[Minneapolis metal FTW]

G is for Gehenna (Norway)

H is for Hypothermia (Sweden)

I is for Inquisition (Colombia/US)

J is for Judas Iscariot (US)

K is for Krieg (US)

L is for Leviathan (US- I always forget Leviathan)

M is for Mgla (Poland)

[Also new. Gotta get this one. Wow]

N is for Nifelheim (Sweden)

O is for Ofermod (Sweden)

P is for Profanatica (US)

[The fun thing about Profanatica is trying to find a video without an image or title too offensive for Facebook]

Q is for Quintessence (France)

[This project was a lot of fun because it resulted in my discovery of great bands like Quintessence]

R is for Ragnarok (Norway)

S is for Samael (Switzerland)

[Love that video]

T is for Teitanblood (Spain)

U is for Urn (Finland)

V is for Velnias (US)

[Live in the woods]

W is for Winterfylleth (UK)

X is for Xerces (France)

Y is for Ye Goat-herd Gods (Canada- is that not the greatest name ever?)

Z is for The Zephyr (Mexico)

***

Well, that’s the list for that project. Like I said, I may do another one, and if I do I’ll post it here. Working on a post about French post-black/blackgaze metal for Thursday.

Until then,

Hagalaz

Hagalaz’ Favorite Black Metal Vocalists

Posted in black metal, dead, funeral mist, marduk, mayhem, norway, sweden, true norwegian black metal, underground, united states, USBM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

A while back, Vince Neilstein from MetalSucks wrote a post saying that metal vocalists had outlived their usefulness. Most of them are crap, he said, and pondered the idea that the reason why we keep them around is because they fill a kind of void, that human beings just take comfort in hearing a human voice. He also advocated for more instrumental metal. [Here is the original post, as well as a couple of commentaries.]

Well, I’m sure you all know how I initially reacted to this. “GASP! But what about X, Y, and Z?! No! Vocals are as much an instrument as the guitar is!” The function of the metal vocalist is too important to just shrug off. I mean, we really do need some kind of human connection, and many of the vocalists out there endeavor to do artistic things with their vocals.  Of course, that is not always the case; I am forced to admit that Mr. Neilstein is right on the account that there are some extraordinarily terrible vocalists out there. However, since his post, I have been ruminating on some of the better ones, the ones on whose behalf I objected to Neilstein’s premise with such vehemence.

So let’s do it. Here are some of my all-time favorite black metal vocalists (in no particular order, except for Dead, who I tend to stick at the front of most things).

Dead (Morbid, Mayhem)

Some people say that Dead is famous simply because he killed himself and not because he had any actual talent. Those people are philistines and should be disregarded. Dead is a bloody brilliant vocalist. Although I would argue that his best vocal work is with Morbid rather than with Mayhem, I also think that I would feel less certain about that if we had more studio work with Dead while he was in Mayhem. Dead’s vocals with Morbid are more of a raspy death rattle than the shrieks that he incorporates in his Mayhem work. Both, however, are creepy as all get out, and his knowledge of when to apply which vocals and how was impressive. Dead also has the added bonus of not being a very good singer, which makes his “la la la”s on songs like Disgusting Semla extremely endearing.

[La la la la la!]

[Have some Carnage. You don’t need to hear Freezing Moon again]

Arioch/Mortuus (Funeral Mist, Marduk, Triumphator)

In the same vein as Dead, Arioch (or Mortuus, or whatever he is going by now) has a very unique vocal style. He claims that he considers his voice as an instrument. Jamie says that Arioch is the Whitney Houston of black metal, and I reckon he’s pretty much right. Not only can the man belt out some of the ugliest screams and groans I’ve ever heard, but he does so on pitch. There’s a certain note (yes, note) that he hits in “Anti-Flesh Nimbus” that makes me convinced that he is also a very good singer. The fact that he has managed to do these kinds of vocals for as long as he has (he’s been pretty active since about 1996) without damaging his throat is impressive. One of the most versatile vocalists I have ever heard, his voice ranges from majestic adulations to frenzied screams. In my personal opinion, the best vocal cords/lungs in black metal.

[Resisting the urge to post “Holy Poison” because I want you to hear the crazy screaming]

[Been listening to this song a lot lately. And people say Marduk are a one trick pony. Pssshaw, I say]

Dagon (Inquisition)

I really like Dagon’s vocals because he approaches the entire concept of black metal vocals from a whole other angle than most of his contemporaries.  Dagon claims that he found the traditional shrieks of black metal to be increasingly cliched, and wanted to approach the music from a different perspective. Thus, Dagon’s weird, croaky, and inhuman chants were born. If Inquisition’s goal is to ask us to meditate on the cosmos and the metaphysical, Dagon’s bizarre, yet somehow soothing, chanting provides the perfect commentary.

[I absolutely cannot wait for this to happen live]

Kim Carlsson (Lifelover/Hypothermia/Kyla/Life Is Pain/Kim has been in so many bands he has an “Etc.” by his name on Encyclopedia Metallum)

A very over the top showman, it is tempting to want to dismiss Kim Carlsson because of his seeming enthusiasm to bleed all over everyone and everything as well as his vocals, because to be honest, he doesn’t have that good of a voice. This is precisely why I love his vocals, however. The guy makes do with what he has, and his vocals, while they may not be all that pretty, have a veritable ton of feeling behind them. Kim Carlsson’s shrieks are positively (negatively?) agonized, and are all the better for their lack of finesse. That raw edge is just what the doctor ordered if you are feeling that your blood needs curdling.

[Never really could get into Lifelover, but I still dig the vocals]

[Now that I can get behind]

ICS Vortex (Arcturus, Borknagar, Lamented Souls, solo work, ex-Dimmu Borgir)

ICS Vortex has, quite simply, one of the most awesome voices I have ever heard. His range is simply amazing, covering every inch of ground between harsh growls and vibrato-laden falsetto. A very versatile vocalist, he has sung for bands of every ilk, including doom metal, black metal, and avant garde. Very few singers can claim Vortex’s virtuosity, and songs like Arcturus’ “The Chaos Path” are indicative of his skill (I’m pretty sure they wrote that song just for him, or he wrote it, or something. I am convinced that there is not another vocalist in the world who could do justice to it in the way Vortex does). Also, Vortex seems like just about the nicest guy on the entire planet, with a goofy stage presence and a friendly smile. He is really good about interacting with his fans (he once left me a comment on MySpace back in the day, just, it would appear, to be nice and make a fan’s day). A personality to match his pipes.

[The best Dimmu Borgir song. No, don’t argue. I’m right]

Attila Csihar (Tormentor, Mayhem, and more bands than I could possibly ever name)

In terms of Mayhem’s vocalists, there seems to be endless debate as to who is the best. Attila, for some reason, often seems to get short shrift in this battle. I’ve never really understood why. He’s got a powerful voice, and he can actually sing as well (which is more than can be said for our poor friend Dead). His chanting on “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” is one of my favorite parts of that entire album; it’s instant chills. Also, Attila has a really fun stage persona; when I saw Mayhem about a year ago, he sang to a skull that he brought on stage with him and wore a cape. Besides his work with Mayhem, his band Tormentor (from his native Hungary) was groundbreaking in the early black metal underground. In interviews that I have seen with him, Attila seems like one of the kindest and most thoughtful guys in the black metal scene, making him someone I’d love to sit and have a beer with.

E (Watain)

Erik Danielsson (or E) of Watain should win the award for biggest lungs on the smallest vocalist. His vocals are powerful and his stage presence is mighty, and even though Watain is not the Erik Danielsson show, his charisma on stage makes it hard to tear your eyes from him. Multi-talented, he also plays the bass on all of Watain’s albums (though they hire a bassist to tour with them so that he can focus on doing what he does). I particularly love the way he incorporates his vocals into Watain’s songs; someone on the interwebs once described E’s vocals as “slithering” in and out of the music, and I think that perhaps that is the best way to describe it. E has a way of knowing exactly how to incorporate the lyrics into the song, and that combined with the sheer emotion he exudes makes him a formidable force.

[The first verse of this one is a good example of the “slithering” I mentioned]

Garm (Ulver, Arcturus, Borknagar)

Garm is another of those talented vocalists who has as lovely a singing voice as he has a scream. I love watching videos of Arcturus live and seeing Vortex sing the songs that Garm recorded with the band, because it becomes very clear in such instances what very different vocalists they are, though they have been in many of the same bands. Garm’s voice is a lot lower than Vortex’s, for instance, and he is much more comfortable with screaming and growling. Ulver’s early black metal albums are some of the most influential in the genre, also, and their later work, while often wildly experimental, is never not good.

[One of my all time favorite songs]

Abbath (Immortal, I)

Abbath may have the most instantly recognizable voice in black metal. His grim and frostbitten croak was what originally lured me into the subgenre. Like Dagon from Inquisition, Abbath’s vocals are more of a croak than the shrieks that tend to define the genre, and even when he sings passages (like in “All Shall Fall”), his voice is raw and more raspy than clear. Abbath has often been said to sound like Popeye, and this mixture of seriousness with good-natured humor is one of the main reasons perhaps for Immortal’s continuous success.

Gaahl (Trelldom, God Seed, Gorgoroth)

Gaahl and King ov Hell’s less than amicable split with Gorgoroth left a lot of fans feeling hurt and confused and understandably resentful, but regardless of how you feel about the Gorgoroth incident, you have to admit that Gaahl does some great vocals. His voice sounds almost violent (is the only way I can think of to describe it), and certainly inhuman. With just the right amount of shriek, Gaahl is able to keep in line with the traditional vocals while still maintaining a unique sound. The result is something really quite nightmarish. His band Trelldom is also quite good, and unfortunately often overlooked. Sorry kids, Gaahl is my favorite Gorgoroth vocalist, yes, even more than Pest, whose voice I can only stand when the recording doesn’t sound like it was done on a tape recorder in someone’s bathroom.

[I didn’t tag this as NSFW, so you can watch the video on your own time]

***

In short, I think metal vocalists are still relevant. At length… everything I just typed. So what do you all think? Do you think that vocalists are important to the genre of metal? Who are some of your favorite black metal vocalists?

Stay tuned, I’ll be covering Melechesh before I go to see them on Friday (oh my gosh. So excited. What a show, and Melechesh and Inquisition are the OPENERS).

Stay kvlt.

-Hagalaz