Northern Isolation


Making up for Lost (Cosmic Keys to My Creation and) Time

I was super lazy and late regarding last week’s update so this week, I’m going to get the ball rolling 2 days early. This week also comes with a special added bonus in the form of a “scene report” which isn’t really what it is because it features one band and the two solo projects of said band’s two members. Welcome, my friends, to the Maximum Rock n Roll of Black Metal (minus the ultra-liberal apologism, making it completely not Maximum Rock n Roll).

FURNITURE CITY SCENE REPORT: GRIMMER THAN IT SOUNDS!

You may not have noticed yet, but I’m pretty fucking judgmental. When I realized that two of the bands who’s albums I was intending to review this week were the one-man projects of both of the members of Aksumite, I kind of needed to review their joint project too, and then decided to call it the Grand (Grim) Rapids Scene report. I hate the Midwest. I am a born and raised New Yorker and everything west of Pennsylvania and east of California I pretty much hate on principle, if for no other reason, because it’s the part of the country that makes everyone else in the world hate us. Michigan sort of marches to the beat of it’s own drum. Written off by the rest of the country as the unfortunate by-product of the almost defunct American auto industry, the people who live in this state are seen by the rest of us as a bunch of whackos who love guns more than most and regularly feast on the entrails of the person they just shot for trespassing. Whether or not this is true is a separate point of contention. What matters is, for once in my life, I am willing to let myself compliment a cultural offering from the Midwest (that isn’t Judas Iscariot).

Aksumite-The Gleam of Wetted Lips

Country: USA (Grand Rapids, MI)

Label: Colloquial Sound Recordings

Year: 2011

There is something very off about this record. It might be the negative-figure production value, it may be a completely intentional device conceived by Cult (guitar and vocals, sole member of A Pregnant Light who are the next band on the docket) and Blood (bass and drums, sole member of Obliti Devoravit, the band reviewed after a Pregnant Light). Either way, this record literally bleeds. And I’m not talking “ow, I scraped my knee”. I’m talking exposed bones rapidly being reduced to dust, blown away by the harsh winter winds of Lake Michigan. This record reminds me a lot of the early Hellhammer demos, but with with Fenriz circa Blaze in the Northern Sky writing their songs for them. Listening to it, it kind of makes me want to punch as many people as possible before getting shot by the police, an emotion black metal rarely invokes in me. Shouted instead of shrieked, this record basically destroys everything in it’s path and, if you can get past the poor recording quality, is worth getting branded into your exposed skull.

5/5

A Pregnant Light-The Feast of Clipped Wings

Country: USA (Grand Rapids, MI)

Label: Colloquial Sound Recordings

Year: 2011

Bulldozing right through the scene report, we come to A Pregnant Light, the guitarist and vocalist of Aksumite’s solo project. Gone is the Tom G. Warrior worship of the previous album. One here, we find something stunningly original. This dwells in the dark swamp between the new school of atmospheric black metal and the the old school of traditional metal song structure. Cult, though maybe not the most accomplished drummer of all time, makes the rudimentary rhythm pattern is unforgiven bitch on this one, crafting songs that manage to espouse an unmistakably haunting atmosphere without sacrificing any of this offerings potential brutality. The only thing left I can say about this band is that some of the songs on here are pure fucking gold. Gold mined from the non-existent mountains of Michigan by a horde of necro-trolls.

5/5

Obliti Devoravit-s/t

Country: USA (Grand Rapids, MI)

Label: Colloquial Sound Recordings

Year: 2011

I knew it was too good to be true. This record gives heed to the old adage “don’t let the drummer write songs”. That’s a little unfair, but this record doesn’t stand out at all. It sounds like a number of the records I’ve already reviewed on here, which I think is a goddamned disappointment. The odd thing with all of these releases is how short the songs are. This genre has, in the past, prided itself on it’s immense song lengths, something I will tackle in later albums in this set. Here, we find short burst of pretty standard black metal. Maybe the problem is that, since the drummer of Aksumite is the one member of this band, his ability to play black metal drums serves as this releases downfall. Maybe this whole time, I’ve been fooled by the overall rudimentary nature of the drumming on these record. Maybe I’m just an asshole with all sorts of absurd standards for what makes “good” black metal. Who knows. This record isn’t bad. If I reviewed this without having heard any of the other bands loosely associated with this project, I’d probably have loved it. But I know the stock from which this release was spawned and I come away from it a little disappointed.

3/5

And so ends our Grim Rapids Scene Report. Kudos to Cult and Blood for releasing albums that are head and shoulders above most of the other black metal I’ve forced myself to sit through since I started writing this blog.

Falls of Rauros-The Light That Dwells in Rotten Wood

Country: USA (Maine)

Label: Bindrune Records

Year: 2011

I briefly contacted this band when I was living in Vermont and recording the first Deildegast demo, they seemed glad that there was another band throwing around “Appalachia” in their imagery. Falls of Rauros come from geographically the most “Scandinavian” place in the continental US, home of looming high peaks and hundreds of miles of virgin coastline. With this starting point, FoR take the folk-infused template of bands like Agalloch or even a band like Wolves in the Throne Room and redistribute the ingredients to suit their own purposes, being the restoration of a pre-Christian, pre-Industrial world. The thing that makes Falls of Rauros stand out in the sea of black metal bands that employ acoustic instruments is the proficiency with which they pull off the black metal parts of their epic ballads. This record marks a stylistic maturity that had not yet fully developed on their early recordings. It would seem that with “The Light That Dwells in Rotten Wood”, Falls of Rauros have hit their stride and I can only hope they maintain this momentum for years to come.

5/5

Goatmoon-Varjot

Country: Finland (Helsinki)

Label: Werewolf Records

Year: 2011

I have to admit, I decided to review this record based solely on the cover. I have a weird owl obsession, which may be the fault of Twin Peaks or the woods I grew up in or both. This time, picking based on the cover was a smart move on my part because this record is nasty. This record breaks a lot of my rules about black metal, like use of synths to replicate traditional instruments, solos, etc. But Blackgoat Gravedesecrator (nice name) pulls it off, somehow. This guy clearly has the chops necessary to do everything on this record to perfection. Unfortunately, the promo photos for this band, their choices of split collaborators (uhh…Xenophobic Ejaculation?), and song titles from previous releases (uhhhhhh…”Fourth Reich”? [because the Third one worked out sooooooo well]) lead me to the conclusion that this guy might be a National Socialist. Now, you’d think that this guy’s burning desire to send me to a death camp would make me give this an automatic bad review, right? Wrong. I’ve always subscribed to the school of thought that black metal is best when it is apolitical from a musical perspective, which this record is. So what if this guy is a racist Finnish nationalist? In this community, the vehement racists who choose to make their politics the centerpiece of their artistic output often prove themselves to be far more interested in making a political statement than making a great record. Perhaps that’s what makes a band like this or any of the other black metal records produced by “racists” (Varg Vikernes? Satanic Tyrant Werewolf? Half of the French black metal scene?) effective recruiting tools, but in order for that to work, one would already have to be looking for that message in music. With that reasoning, couldn’t somebody find those messages as easily in, say, a Backstreet Boys record? This American left-skewing Jew couldn’t give a fuck about some Scandinavian nerd that wants me dead on principle.

4/5

Negură Bunget-Poartă de Dincolo

Country: Romania (Timişoara)

Label: Code666

Year: 2011

This band has become the darling of the black metal scene. I must confess, I’ve not listened to much of their catalog, and this release is the first one of theirs that I’ve given a serious listen to. I am impressed at this band’s commitment to refusing the traditional black metal song structure. These tracks are outright bizarre, but the gigantic piles of self-induced ejaculation this band’s core followers have produced is a sad testament to the close-mindedness of a big portion of the metal community. The same thing happens with Mike Patton: people who have a very pedestrian view of what experimentation is latch on to something that stands out as “weird” and then profess themselves as being tremendous supporters of the avant-garde. This band isn’t another Darkthrone clone, I’ll give them that. They don’t sound like the original Norwegian black metal bands, this is true. But to be fair, this band’s approach to black metal is not far off from that traditional sound, which doesn’t even really hurt them. This record is refreshing considering the amount of very terrible black metal I am constantly listening to. Their strong ties to their home culture betrays them as a band incorporating the complex nature of Romanian life into their music. Good, not the savior of the genre.

3/5

Pensées Nocturnes-Ceci Est de la Musique

Country: France (Paris)

Label: Self-Released

Year: 2011

I am confused by the message this record is trying to convey. Yes, this is music. Are PN (does every French black metal band with the initials “PN” need to refer to themselves as “PN”?) trying to tell us that Wagnerian bombastic classical music is music? Are they trying to tell us that weirdo French black metal with operatic vocals is music? Is the whole thing music? Why is there a homeless accordion-and-recorder-playing clown on the cover? French black metal is fucking weird. That being said, Vaerhon, the sole propagator of this band is a super huge weirdo who oscillates back and forth between John Cage-esque madness, Wagnerian super-passages, and huge slabs of unstoppable grimness.What I find really interesting is that, unless Vaerhon has the best synthesizer in the world, the orchestral arrangements on this record appear to have been performed by an orchestra. How Vaerhon got himself one of those is beyond me, but this is some next level shit, bridging gaps between things that make my non-metal friends throw up and things that make my very metal friends throw up. Everyone throws up. But I’m throwing up from joy.

5/5

Next week, I’ll find nothing but awful records to review because everything this week got pretty good reviews.


Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s



%d bloggers like this: