Archive for burzum

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

Advertisements

Happy Black Friday!

Posted in black metal, dead, marduk, mayhem, norway, sweden, true norwegian black metal with tags , , , , , , on November 23, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

Well, it’s Black Friday, and seeing as how I am a hermit and a misanthrope who doesn’t like to be around large masses of people at the best of times, I will be spending it mostly in solitude (my mom is visiting, so I’m not completely alone). Things are starting to wind down school-wise, and next semester is already starting to look pretty bright. I get to take one less class than I thought I would have to, so I’ll have some down time. Expect this thing, then to start seeing more updates within the next few weeks. Sunday’s a quick turnaround this week (like I said, I’ve had company), but I will do a post for next week sometime.

For now, however, I will spam you with some good ol’ fashioned second wave black metal, because it’s Black Friday, and there’s snow on the ground in the Twin Cities.

-Hagalaz

[My choice for my Facebook Black Friday post. Mayhem is obvious, “Carnage” less so]

[Jamie’s pick. You can’t go wrong with Darkthrone]

[Because everybody loves a bloody Mortuus rolling around in the dirt]

[Jamie informed me that there is a video for this song. Crazy! (No, I don’t know why it was on Vh1)]

[There we go. My favorite old school Immortal song, in honor of the snow on the ground]

The Big Four (or More) of Black Metal

Posted in black metal, black metal history, mayhem, musings, norway, sweden, true norwegian black metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

The other day, Metal Sucks did an interview with Cannibal Corpse’s Paul Mazurkiewicz and the topic of the Big Four of death metal arose. Mazurkiewicz claimed that the Big Four of death metal, if there was a Big Four, would be Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Deicide, and Suffocation. I am not sure; personally, I think Immolation should be on that list somewhere, though I would hate to kick anyone off of it, especially as I am quite the novice in terms of death metal knowledge.

Someone in the comments then decided to do a Big Four of Any Kind of Metal You Can Shake A Stick At, and came up with the following Big Four for black metal.

  1. Immortal
  2. Darkthrone
  3. Emperor
  4. Dimmu Borgir

Now, it is my personal opinion that Dimmu Borgir does not belong on that list. I am not one of the people who hates Dimmu; rather, they were a gateway (HA. See what I did there?) band for me to get into black metal waaaaaay back in high school. Their old stuff is particularly spectacular, and I think they were very strong up through Death Cult Armageddon. Nevertheless, I don’t think they belong on that list. There is already a symphonic black metal band on that list, and nobody, but nobody tops in Emperor in that respect.

Why Mayhem and/or Burzum is not filling that fourth spot on this person’s list I don’t know. But then herein lies a problem- both Mayhem and Burzum should be in the Big Four of black metal, and so should the other three. And then we are just considering Norway, and only considering the second wave of black metal. Blut Aus Nord has had far reaching influence both in and outside of France, as has Von from the U.S. and Swedish staples like Nifelheim. So, without further ado, I give you (I am taking into account here influence and innovation- I think most black metal bands nowadays can be traced back to these guys) my personal Big Six of Black Metal (with justifications).

1. Mayhem

Seriously. Anybody who does not acknowledge Mayhem as godfathers of the second wave of black metal is kidding themselves. No, they have not been as prolific as other black metal bands (see Darkthrone, holy crap) and have often gone far down experimental roads that have left even the biggest fans scratching their heads, but no one can deny their status as progenitors of the second wave. I mean, Euronymous invented the black metal riff. De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas has topped just about every list of the greatest black metal albums of all time, and some of the most brilliant minds in the genre have played in the band. Fenriz claims Live in Leipzig as the album that birthed the second wave of black metal, and Mayhem has been lauded and admired in black metal scenes the world over, especially for their crucial early work. Mayhem should not only be on the list, they should be at the top of it.

2. Darkthrone

Whereas Mayhem has not been all that prolific in album releases (but have in bootlegs the combined weight of the entire band), Darkthrone has been one of the most abundant bands in the scene. Over the years they have released fourteen full length albums, and several demos, EPs, and compilations. Although their early stuff, particularly Transilvanian Hunger, has sometimes been called generic, there is no denying the influence of Darkthrone on black metal as a whole. The title track of the aforementioned album is, of course, one of the most instantly recognizable songs in the entire genre. Darkthrone’s attitude is also a reason for including them on the list; though late to the party (they were playing death metal until someone told them what was up), Darkthrone has maintained their stick-it-to-the-man, punky attitude in a way that most of their contemporaries have not. To this day, Fenriz works a regular job at the local post office, makes time to correspond with fans, and is an ardent supporter of the underground scene. Their later work has been very experimental, seeing the band dabbling in rock and roll and punk, but their attitude has never waned. Darkthrone does what they want, and in doing so they have never let the spirit of the early second wave die.

3. Immortal

When Immortal came on the scene, they were met with skepticism. How trve were these guys playing black metal so largely influenced by thrash, who write songs about the weather rather than Satan? Today, however, I think that there is little question of Immortal’s importance to black metal. Immortal reminded us that there is more to darkness than the Devil, such as freezing rain and driving snow, the grim, cold darkness of winter, and the stony bulk of impassive, towering mountains. Their fierce tremolo picking and relentless blast beats even sound like winter, and the ferocity and beauty of the season comes across in their work. Not to mention that their corpse paint, Abbath’s in particular, is some of the most instantly recognizable. Immortal has, in many ways, become the face of black metal, and considering that they seem to be genuinely nice guys, they make very good poster children. Immortal was the first black metal band (well, besides Dimmu) that I really got into, and they have a very special place in my grim, frostbitten heart. They earn their way onto the list for daring to take a different approach and proving wrong all those that doubted them.

4. Burzum

Another innovator of the early scene, Varg Vikernes deserves a spot on the list. Though I’m not a big fan of him as a human being, and I assume there are others out there who feel like me, you really cannot deny his contributions to black metal. If black metal’s most important aspect is the atmosphere as Fenriz claims, then Varg deserves to be lauded, because Burzum pretty much invented atmospheric black metal. His early work is repetitive, but has just enough subtle variation to never get boring. Astoundingly simple, yet beautiful and haunting. Burzum also incorporated the “necro” sound of low-fi recording like its contemporaries, but almost using it as an instrument to help create the desired atmosphere. Without the atmospheric stylings of Burzum, black metal as we know it today would sound completely different. Varg’s implementation of Norse mythology and culture into his music is also representative of the pagan influence on black metal, which has been taken up by other bands such as Vreid and Enslaved.

5. Emperor

…And then there was Emperor. I don’t think I really need to explain how awesome Emperor is, but I will justify putting them on my list, inasmuch as it needs justification. Every once in a while you hear a black metal band and it becomes very apparent that the members of said bands are skilled and serious musicians. Emperor is one such band. Although it is perfectly acceptable to have earned your chops jamming in your garage there is something to be said for musical training, and Emperor soars to new heights in the complicated nature of their work. Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk was my first Emperor album, and it blew me away. Why? Because the album acts more as a symphony than a modern popular rock album, with certain melodies repeating themselves at various instances throughout the record and a coherent feel to the whole thing. Emperor’s crafty use of keyboards in their music is never silly and always stirring, and their melodic passages make the soul sing.

6(66). Dissection

Last but not least, I would have Dissection. Dissection were contemporaries of all the aforementioned dudes from Norway, but are strikingly different as a result of being from Gothenburg, Sweden, the capital of Swedish death metal. Influenced by that scene, Dissection’s music is melody-heavy in a way that the early Norwegian bands are not. There are guitar solos and there are folky acoustic interludes. Dissection is about as far as you can get from the bleak fuzz of Burzum or the heavy, Venom-influenced Mayhem. Nevertheless, Dissection’s influence in Sweden and elsewhere has been vast. Melodic black metal lines are still used prevalently today by bands like Watain and Naglfar (both countrymen of Dissection), and this more accessible approach has also been inspirational in other scenes like France and the United States, though both I would argue have over time developed their own sounds. Unfortunately, because they were not in the Norwegian black circle at the time that black metal took off, Dissection has not received the attention in the best of lists that I believe they deserve.

***

And there you have it. That is my Big “Four” of Black Metal. As you can see, this list is not definitive. My list comprises older bands, bands that were highly influential but still primarily second-wave. I have not taken into account the first-wave, with staples like Venom and Sarcofago. Many third-wave bands like Deathspell Omega and Funeral Mist have also wielded tremendous influence in the scene, and there are big holes in this second-wave list where bands like Marduk, Beherit, and Ulver should go, yet in an effort to keep the list short, this is what I came up with. Also, considering that the Big Four of Thrash takes into account commercial success as well, these early bands are perhaps the most notable in terms of names that people know (I certainly had heard of Emperor and Immortal before I had delved far into black metal). The list is by no means perfect, but I feel like it addresses some of the most powerful of the original innovators, without whom bands like Deathspell Omega might not even exist (can you imagine what DsO might sound like if Burzum had never happened? Certainly different).

In an effort to get more people talking on this thing, what are your Big Four (or more) of black metal? Do you agree that these bands should be on the list? If not, who would you kick off? Who would you add?

Stay grim, my friends.

-Hagalaz

Swedish Black Metal (Part III)

Posted in black metal history, musings, sweden with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

**Edited for clarity, typos (I took French, not German. My apologies for my misspellings), and slight modifications. Thanks to X for additional info**

Previously, I discussed the reason that Swedish black metal has been largely ignored in the metal world (Swedish death metal) as well as how it developed a unique sound (again, mostly death metal). In this installment, I will address some common themes found in Swedish black metal. And also I haven’t discussed Satan yet, and he’s kind of a big deal. So with that said, let’s press forward, shall we?

Themes of Swedish Black Metal

I. Satan 

I don’t know how I made it this far into this thing without discussing Satanism, but it’s long overdue. Black metal has always had an interesting relationship to Satanism that is more or less pronounced depending on where the band is located, who is in it, etc. So let’s dissect it a bit, shall we? (No pun intended. Well, not with too much intent.)

Norway

The Norwegian scene often gets conflated with Satanism, primarily because of the church burnings. In the early 90’s, Varg Vikernes set a lot of churches on fire, which people in the media took to mean that he was a Satanist due to the large scale “Satanic panic” that had been going on for a time, alleging that Satanists were committing horrible crimes. He’s not, although he claimed to be in the early days (and now vehemently denies any association with Satanism, just like he likes to vehemently deny a lot of things). He seems to lean more towards paganism, and was torching churches as a statement against the Christianization of Norway. But unfortunately, he was about 500 years too late, and people were understandably confused.

[Not a Satanist]

Plenty of bands were using Satanic imagery as a stick-it-to-the-man kind of thing, but few of them viewed it with any level of seriousness. Dead of Mayhem was fascinated by Satanic ritual but doesn’t seem to have actually practiced it, and some bands that claimed to be Satanists in their early years (i.e., when they were teenagers) eventually abandoned that train of thought.

[Like Emperor’s Ihsahn. This song is perfect, by the way.]

That’s not to say that there weren’t a few practicing Satanists in Norway. Euronymous from Mayhem claimed himself a theistic Satanist (see my earlier post this week and GO VOTE TO HAVE EURONYMOUS’ FACE PUT ON A PLANE: http://www.halehelter.no/), as does Infernus of Gorgoroth (theistic Satanism viewing Satan as a deity as opposed to the atheistic Church of Satan which promotes individuality and self-gain without the religious stuff). All of them seemed to think atheistic Satanism was stupid, with the exception of the couple of them who were atheistic Satanists.

The main theme however was anti-Christianity, which everyone could agree on. The pagans were sore because they were forcefully converted, or their ancestors were, the theistic Satanists were sore because… because Christianity, and they were all teenagers who were struggling to find an identity, which Satanism facilitated through its focus on individuality.

Sweden

Sweden is different. The Swedish black metal bands did, and still do, take their Satanism VERY seriously. Apparently there was a Satanic “black circle” in Sweden as well, though I’ll be damned if I can find anything on it. Satanism had a hold in Sweden in a way that it never did in Norway. While everyone in Norway was running around panicking about Satanists, who were often not actually Satanists, lighting churches on fire, the Swedish black metallers were actually Satanists and were generally behaving themselves.

There seems to be two major schools of Satanic thought in Sweden. One is anti-cosmology, maintained by the Misanthropic Luciferian Order (MLO), or the Temple of the Black Light. Their big focus is on Chaos, and bands with a link to them are Dissection and Watain.

[This album in its entirety describes anti-cosmology better than I ever could]

Dissection has especially close connections with the MLO. Jon Nödtveidt was one of their first members, I believe (though not a founder), and he sported a “MLO Warrior” patch on his battle jacket. Also, one of Dissection’s bassists actually quit the band to focus more on his esoteric studies. Dissection aptly labeled themselves “Anti-Cosmic Metal of Death.”

[Anti Cosmic Metal of Death]

There is also a camp of Satanism in Sweden that seems to follow the more traditional approach. Marduk is one of these. When the band started in 1990, Morgan claimed he wanted to create “the most blasphemous band in the world.” While he claims now that that was just something he said when he was seventeen, Marduk has continuously churned out Satanic themes.

[Some of them less mature than others (a cover, yes, but nonetheless. This is one of the reasons I love Marduk, though)]

Although I can see parallels between the two, Marduk’s Satanism seems to not be as centered on anti-cosmology as just good ol’ fashioned anti-Christian Satanism. They use a lot of Biblical imagery, and they’ve upped the ante on that ever since Mortuus joined the band.

[Mmm. That’s such a tasty riff.]

Mortuus’ (who goes by Arioch the rest of the time) utilizes much of the same kind of Satanic imagery in his other projects. Arioch has famously said that to him, black metal is “music with a Satanic, destructive message, or a devil-worshipping message. That’s it, nothing else.” (Blabbermouth interview).

[Triumphator is mind-blowingly good. I’ll elaborate more on Arioch’s stuff later]

Of course, Nifelheim also uses Satanic imagery (and I totally forgot them in my first edition of this thing. Ah well. I guess they fall in the same camp as Dissection).

[“Storms” also show up a lot, I’m noticing.]

And of course, these guys. Though I hear some of them are LaVeyans. (Shhh.)

[Not any less serious about the Satan business, just in a different way]

Of course, that’s not the only theme. There are also…

II. WOLVES

Wolves seem to crop up a lot in Swedish black metal too. It may be because they tie in well with the Satanic themes- wolves as opposed to sheep, for example, a metaphor that E of Watain once put beautifully. Wolves are also majestic, and at least here, they are endangered (I am unsure of the wolf population in Sweden). They are pack animals, and they are vicious and excellent hunters. I’m sure you’re getting the gist.

[Watain really likes wolves. A lot. Lots of their merch has wolves on it, including the awesome hoodie of theirs that I want]

[taken from Watain’s Facebook]

[Fairly straightforward.]

Marduk also has an insignia that’s a pentagram with guess what on top of it?

[Yes, that’s my shirt and yes, it’s on me. It was a Marduk kind of day.]

And Morgan has yet another side project, thought less black metal, whose name has nothing to do with wolves.

[Or everything, rather.]

Also, apparently Lord Ahriman of Dark Funeral is in another band called Wolfen Society. I have known of this band for all of three minutes, and they’re actually based in Ohio, but it only helps to prove my point. Where there are associations with Swedish black metal, there are often wolves.

Even Amon Amarth has a song about wolves, but now I digress. Besides, there’s another point I haven’t addressed yet, that point being…

III. War

War is another big theme in Swedish black metal, although it, like the other two themes, is not limited to the Swedish scene. Of course, “Black Metal ist Krieg” according to Nargaroth, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that war is a common theme. There’s the concept of an army or a band of brothers type thing too, which goes along with wolves in the pack mentality as a group of individuals working together to form a single destructive force. Watain uses the slogan “Black Metal Militia,” and Marduk refers to their fanbase as the “Marduk Legion” and often has war imagery in their songs.

Marduk in particularly loves their war history. They’ve devoted concept albums to Vlad the Impaler and his conquests and Third Reich history. …Anyone see where this is becoming potentially problematic?

[They like tanks. BIG ones.]

Because of the small yet noticeable presence of neo-Nazi black metal, using Nazi imagery can often cause people to start talking. Panzer Division Marduk caused some fuss- I’m guessing Marduk lost some fans who thought they were Nazis, and the NSBM bands were stoked because, well, not a lot of them get big (for obvious reasons) and they thought they had finally gotten one of the big names in black metal on their side. Until Morgan dismissed the claims in an interview, which pissed off the NSBM folks and lost them too. Plus, to be fair, the whole album… kind of sounds like that. It’s short, it’s sweet, it’s to the point, and it’s a little repetitive. It sounds exactly like machine-guns firing, however.

[War and Satan. It’s a thing.]

WWII imagery seems to always come up with the Swedish bands- though their music has nothing to do with it, Watain got in a lot of trouble once for something involving swastikas. Their response? They’re not Nazis, because those people lack vision and are too short-sighted.

Ponder that a second. Watain are not Nazis because Nazis are not nearly evil enough.

*cough*…Anyway. Marduk has never quit using WWII imagery and the like, and personally I don’t think they need to. They’ve shot down the rumours that they’re a Nazi band. They just really like big tanks. And that’s okay. It is also worth noting that these guys are from Sweden (I suppose.)

[…And that’s the first and last time you’ll ever see power metal on here. *shudder*]

[I’m sorry. Here, quick! have some Bathory as a palate cleanser]

Though these are by far not the only themes that exist in Swedish black metal, they are some of the more prominent ones and crop up a lot, often in conjunction with one another- both war and wolves can be linked with Satanism. Which can, incidentally, be linked with Bathory.

So next time will be the last installment, I think. I’ll get to the new bands on the scene in depth, finally, because holy crap there is some great stuff coming out of Sweden right now. Until next time.

-Hagalaz