Northern Isolation

The Stages of the Bloodmoon
07/26/2011, 5:04 PM
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , , , , ,

More funny titles. More reviews. More dim light.

Alcest-Le Secret (2011 Re-Release)

Country: France (Pars, Île-de-France)

Label: Prophecy Productions

Year: 2011

With the rise of the hipster black metal phenomenon came the veneration of several bands who had previously been invisible. And with that came the hordes of bands populated by guys in skinny jeans playing their take on black metal. This release isn’t new, the original EP came out 6 years ago and went largely unnoticed by most. I only found out about this band through Peste Noire (who you’ll notice gets reviewed right under them), with whom Niege was both a session drummer and a session guitarist for a time. The sole common ground between PN and Alcest is their disregard for the traditional black metal paradigm, though their experimentation is thoroughly divergent. There are moments on this record where Alcest resembles a mid-90’s indie rock band, which I assume is why they refer to themselves as “black metal/shoegaze”. This album is highly atmospheric, but is equal parts Brian Eno to Burzum, perhaps more Eno. The Le Secret rerelease, however, does feel a little bit like overkill. Is it really necessary to rerecord the songs, but then put the originals on the album? Why not just rerecord it. There really isn’t enough of a change in sound to have necessitated this decision. Although, I will say it is refreshing to hear black metal be played in major keys. A good release for someone who’s never heard the original. But if you have, this record is nothing but a collector’s item. But some people are into that, so hey. Do what you want.


Peste Noire-L’Ordure à l’état Pur

Country: France (Avignon, Provence-Alpes-Côte)

Label: La Mesnie Herlequin

Year: 2011

Speaking of Peste Noire, here’s the new Peste Noire release. Peste Noire is still really weird. I don’t know what’s wrong with La Sale Famine De Valfunde that he has to moan so much like, all the time, but it’s sort of become PN’s “thing”. Also, as much as I enjoy PN existing outside of the realm of tradition, I really want to buy their guitar player a distortion pedal, or a guitar with something other than single-coil pickups. My enduring complaint with this band is that the guitars do not bite hard enough, ever. Aside from that, this is an interesting release from the French oddballs of what is already one of the oddest black metal movements on the planet. The cover looks like a 5-year old’s rendition of what a French street punk album cover should look like. The first track features a trombone and an accordion. Most interesting in my eyes is Peste Noire’s departure from their usual practice of trying to split up an album into as many tracks as possible. This album is a meager 5-tracks, the longest of which clocking in at a little over 20 minutes. It’s nice to see this band develop as song-writers as opposed to just making 30 1 minute tracks that have little to do with each other. This album also features a whole lot of drum-programming, especially for a band that has a drummer. It’s almost like someone crammed all facets of French culture into a funnel and forced Meyhna’ch from Mütiilation to swallow the whole thing, then barf it back up. At moments, this record could be considered French folk metal. At others, blackened industrial metal. It’s a million things at once, but it doesn’t do a single one of them wrong.


Helheim-Heiðindómr ok Mótgangr

Country: Norway (Bergen)

Label: Dark Essence Records

Year: 2011

I don’t think I will ever stop giving Norway a chance to redeem itself. The problem is, every time I start to think that Norwegian black metal has become completely stale and trite, something like this comes along and fucks it all up. For some reason, an Alpen horn in black metal really ties a song together. More bands should use it. Now, I generally find viking-themed black metal to be a tremendous snorefest. Congratulations, you’re from Scandinavia and, despite having abandoned your ways over 1,000 years ago, you’ve decided that it’s time to bring the raping and pillaging back. That worked out so well for all the seers who ended up tied to stakes in low-tide because they refused to convert to Christianity. Leave the maritime raiding to the people who do it best, Somali pirates. This band, however, manages to dose their viking metal with just enough heavy black metal so that it doesn’t sound like the long lost “Nordland III” sessions. This record is not innocent of an occasional foray into the world of the immensely corny, but overall it’s a lot more interesting than most of the viking metal propagated by the old guard of the Norwegian Black Metal scene (Fenriz projects excluded). As I get deeper into this record, I notice that a lot of the vocal phrasing is downright atrocious, but it’s still better than a bunch of Finns deciding that they were vikings and painting their faces.


Sacrilegious Impalement-II – Exalted Spectres

Country: Finland (Lahti)

Label: Hammer of Hate

Year: 2011

Speaking of Finns, here’s some Finns. Black metal in Finland has had a much harder time divorcing itself from death metal than the Scandinavian scenes did, but this is a step in the right direction. The first proper track on this album starts with some Muslim prayers which is giving me a bad feeling about this release. But upon further inspection, I notice that this band really just hates religion, a common theme within the Finnish wing of black metal. The music never really matured beyond the realm of endless indiscriminate blasphemy, just take a look at Beherit. To be fair, listening to this, I’m not repulsed, nor am I elated. This is another release that just kind of sits there. I guess it’s more of a mood thing. I really want to hear Finnish black metal that sings about the Kalevala, not another band that hates God and has a lot to say about it. This doesn’t reflect this release at all, it reflects the background from whence it came. This album doesn’t stand out that way a record by a band like Archgoat does, but then Archgoat and Sacrilegious Impalement are immensely different. And to be fair, I appreciate the shouted vocals of this to Archgoat’s demonic muppet growls.


Ba.Ku-Ritual Totemic Stone

Country: Canada (Vancouver, BC)

Label: Trash Ritual

Year: 2005

I have no idea where to even start when it comes to reviewing this. Can you even review harsh noise? What criteria do you use to review harsh noise? Is the noise harsh? Yes. According to it’s propagator, Ba.Ku is “blackened harsh noise”, which I guess means the guy put a sample from a spooky Satanic Ritual before it turns into endless waves of unstoppable feedback, accompanied by screams, obscured under the harsh yolk of a shitty microphone. Each side of this cassette is 20 minutes of unstoppable harsh noise. About 14 minutes into side A, the Satanic mass repeats itself, at which point, the feedback almost begins to assume a tone. Not harsh, dude. You’re fired from blackened harsh noise. Side B features a completely inaudible sample which I can only assume is more Satanism, this time obscured by the shrill feeding back of…something. About 6 minutes into side B, everything descends back into the same scape of varying levels of feedback, eventually being perceived (by this listener anyway) as almost nautical. The sea of buzz continues almost unbroken until the end of the track, leaving me wondering “why did I just even listen to that?” “Why did I choose to review this?” “Maybe I should just kill myself.” Which I guess is probably exactly what Ba.Ku was going for.


White Medal-Alone As Owt

Country: UK (Gomersal, West Yorkshire)

Label: Seedstock

Year: 2011

I was not prepared for the recording quality on this. Everything else I reviewed this time around had fairly clean quality, which made this one come as quite a shock. I should have seen “Seedstock” and knew this was going to be lo-fi as fuck. It takes White Medal (haha, I get it) a minute to hit their stride, which is apparently standard operating procedure for the young black metal/punk hybrid genre. This is undeniably grim, but the drums never exceed a moderately fast, almost Black Flag-on-Damaged paced beat. I must say, English black metal is a hit or miss deal. Either you’re awesome (Winterfylleth, DIS) or you’re horrendous (Cradle of Filth). This band is young, only forming in 2007, so they have a little bit of growing to do. But overall, this is an enjoyable release. I just wish it was recorded not in my ass.


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