Northern Isolation


War.
07/22/2011, 2:29 PM
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , , , , ,

Here we go.

Liturgy-Aesthetica

Country: USA (Brooklyn, NY)

Label: Thrill Jockey

Year: 2011

Before I even begin to review this record, I want to make clear that I tried my hardest to put aside my negative opinions towards Hunter Hunt Hendrix because this is, afterall, a cooperative effort. Unfortunately, my knowledge of Triple H’s shitty attitude towards the genre his band is a part of is 100% validated on this release. Liturgy’s hollow attempts to distance themselves from the traditional trappings of black metal come across as extremely deliberate and misguided. On their first release, Liturgy was unmistakably a black metal band, albeit one that chose more ethereal subject matter than most. What I am listening to is a modern example of the original black metal ethos of taking Christianity and blatantly inverting it as a means of terrifying the common man. The differance is, Liturgy is taking the black metal template and deliberately inverting it in a sort of auto-felatio. We get it. You’ve taken a music theory class. You’ve played together enough so that your playing is exceptionally tight. Not to come across as another faceless asshole just trying to diss a band that’s trying something new, this record does feature a few brief moments of very interesting music. But the smugness of its auteur shows throughout the release. I am going to stop myself because my furious rant against Triple H has it’s own place at the end of this post. In sumation, I’ve certainly heard worse, but this is by no means a masterpiece. Also, Void called. They want their logo back.

2/5

Epheles-Je Suis Autrefois

Country: France (Sarrable, Lorraine)

Label: Apparitia Recordings

Year: 2011

More francophone black metal brought to you by the fine folks of the Metropolitan Country. It’d be nice if Francophone black metal could come from one of the less likely places where French is a primary language, like Haiti or one of the many former French colonies in Africa. I guess they don’t have to write songs about it because life in their respective countries is fucked up enough as it is. In the meantime, this is suiting me just fine. The vocals take a little getting used to, but they really fit the music on here quite well. This release utilizes a synthesizer to perfection. When counteracted by the vocals (and an ocean of reverb), a gaunt and ethereal atmosphere takes form. The drumming on this one is also excellent, something many of the records I’ve reviewed could benefit greatly from. The penultimate track is a serious black metal headbanger, something all too many bands get wrong time and again. This is also one of the most excellent demo recordings I’ve ever heard in regard to sound quality. A refreshing pick me up after that Liturgy abomination.

4/5

Devil’s Dung-s/t

Country: USA (New York City, NY)

Label: Self-Released

Year: 2010

This is a little nugget from my past. I’ve always been a huge fan of powerviolence and within the powerviolence genre, Charles Bronson was one of my favorites. Here, we see Mark McCoy teamed up with Dominick Fernow of Prurient “fame”. When these forces combine, they create…something that sounds totally indistinguishable from every single one of Mark McCoy’s 4 other current black metal projects. I understand that one of them serves almost exclusively as the soundtrack to his art installations, but come on. A lot of this really just sounds like Charles Bronson but with actual chords. That isn’t necessarilly a bad thing. My main issue with this is the excruciating pain that Dominick Fernow’s primary project causes is decidedly absent from this release. A lot of this really does just sound like run of the mill raw black metal, which is a shame because this band truly is not the sum of it’s parts. Maybe Das Oath should just get back together. This also doesn’t give me high hopes for the Joe DiNunzio black metal release, coming out on Things I Wish Would Happen Records.

2/5

Abysmal Darkening-No Light Behind

Country: Netherlands (Tilburg, North Brabant)

Label: Totalrust

Year: 2011

There is a mind-bogglingly large amount of documentation about the Dutch black metal scene. Someone over there is really good making sure that anyone can find any piece of available information on any band that was ever released from Holland. It was through this wealth of unnecessary accessability that I came across Abysmal Darkening, who I looking into based on no solid information at all. My first impression of this band is that, based on the first song on this album, they’re a much better doom metal band than they are a black metal band. The song “Behold the Gods” maintains a slow pace for most of it, the guitar lurches forward like a donkey cart. Halfway through the song, a blast beat breaks which, at best, sounds awkward and forced. It quickly resolves itself and goes back to the lurching donkey-beat (d-beat?). This band soon resolves to avoid blastbeats and achieve speed through other means, which they do rather well. The guitars maintain a coy bass-heavy tone throughout, like a wild animal getting ready to completely disembowel it’s pray, but waiting patientily for the right time which, in this case, never happens. This record is a severely flawed black metal release, but an almost impeccable funeral doom record.

3/5

Kallathon-Before Drifting Into The Abyss

Country: USA (California)

Label: Crepusculo Negro

Year: 2010

I have to be honest, I’m burning myself out on these CN releases. But I’d rather not just review the same awful demo over and over again so I bring you more SoCal nekrometal, this time from the capable folks at Kallathon, that is to say, Volahn and Kallathon (because everyone is in like, 10 million bands these days). This is Kallathon’s first (and aside from a comp appearance, only) release. This one is keeping with CN’s tendency to release awesome black metal all the time without fail. What I find most impressive is that these guys are all in each other’s bands, if they all just joined forces, they’d be a band with something like 40 releases from the past year and a half. I’m truly taken aback by the creative energy CN is able to harness and the finances they seem to have on hand to relese all of these records themselves. Keep up the good work, Crepusculo Negro. I’ll keep listening and promoting your stable.

4/5

Transcendental Black Metal: A Vision of Apocalyptic Humanism by Hunter Hunt Hendrix

This is my first ever attempt at a “book review”, and what better place to start than the most controversial black metal offering since Lords of Chaos blew the lid of this whole black metal thing for a lot of people.
By the end of the first page, I’ve already formed the framework of my opinion on this “academic” tome. It seems as if the means by which Hunter Hunt Hendrix physically birthed this text had an “automatic thesaurus” in the sense that this essay is worded in such a way that the reader must re-read every single statement to begin to get the jist of it. I’m not sure if this is a deliberate attempt to cause confusion or a deliberate attempt to appear scholarly or both, but the diction is, in and of itself, enough to repell at least half of the people it’s trying to reach. The explanation of the so-called “Haptic Void” is an interesting theory which, relatable as it may be to the seasoned metal listener, is a very tidy way to wrap in ribbons the inherently varried nature of heavy metal’s effect.
Before I had even read this entire article, I took offense to what HH-H refers to as “hyperborean black metal” and the listener and purveyor’s need to distance themselves from it as a means of revirginizing of the genre itself. This goes against everything metal has always and will always stand for. This music is cyclical in the sense that nothing has ever really died off. The archtypal “fickle metalhead” has a discerning ear and can sense when a genre has become stale, but every genre that has once again reared its head has done so with a renewed zeal that was, understandably, supported on the shoulders of it’s direct predecessor. We saw it with the thrash metal revival, we saw it with the doom metal revival, even the black metal revival which has diminished greatly in the past few years. All of these genres knew that they couldn’t rewrite history, no matter how hard some of them tried. This cyclical nature is inherent within the genre itself and it would be nearly impossible to divorce the genre from it’s true nature.
At this point, the essay becomes deeply self-serving, saying that Transcendental Black Metal is the only realistic future for the genre outside of the realm of “hyperborean black metal”. Using William Blake, Aaron Copeland and Ornette Coleman as examples for is misguided as the works of these three undeniable masters come from a place of blank-canvas improvosation, whereas black metal (yes, even with “transcendental” tacked onto the front of it) still comes from black metal. The hyperborean roots of the music are undeniable, even if they are stale and played out. Saying that it is just another pitstop on the ascent to nihil upon the mountain of heavy metal development is a clumsy metaphor for exactly what Liturgy is doing. Transcendental black metal is not represented by flight, it is another capalary from the vein of black metal which, all influences considered, comes from the artery of music. One could nit pick their way all the way back to prehistoric musical experimentation, but the fact is, all music from all genres came from the same place. You can never truly leave the river from which you are a tributary, no matter how different your body of water is.

And just to keep the mudslinging going,