Archive for the 'Music' Category

28
Aug
07

This is sound

Earlier today, the Norwegian Avant-Garde/Experimental Metal outfit Ulver released a song from their forthcoming album, Shadows of the Sun. The song is entitled “Vigil” and it sounds great, as one might expect from Ulver. “Vigil” can be heard on Ulver’s myspace, so I advise anyone reading to head over their and give it a listen. Shadows of the Sun–which the band has described as “low-key, dark and tragic”–is due out October 1st, and I’m definitely looking forward to hearing the album in its entirety.

25
Aug
07

Another One Bites the Dust

2007 has not been a great year for some of my favorite Norwegian metal bands. Sure, this year saw the release of Mayhem’s fourth LP (Ordo Ad Chao), but the losses have outnumbered the gains. Three of my favorite bands have split up over the course of 2007.

First to go was Arcturus, who split up in April. The news of their disbanding came in a suitably dramatic fashion; vocalist Simen Hestn├Žs (a.k.a. ICS Vortex) opened the band’s concert in Melbourne, Australia by welcoming the audience to the “last Arcturus show ever.” The band later reiterated the announcement on their website, and Arcturus, one of the world’s finest avant-garde metal bands was no more. I (along with many, many others) was sad to see them go.

Tsjuder, a three-piece band playing straightforward black metal in the style of early Immortal followed suit in July. Tsjuder was actually among the first black metal bands I listened to, and hence was instrumental in furthering my interest in that genre. Though their first few albums weren’t particularly remarkable, 2004’s Desert Northern Hell was a vast improvement, showing that the band held a great deal of promise. Unfortunately, it was to be Tsjuder’s final album. In the wake of the dissolution, Members Nag and Desecrator formed a new band entitled Krypt. Judging from what little of their work I’ve heard, it seems to be very much in the old-school spirit that Tsjuder stood for.

The most recent of my favorite bands to go their separate ways was the progressive metal outfit Green Carnation, who dissolved only about a week ago. The band was brain child of Tchort, guitarist for Carpathian Forest and one-time bassist for Emperor. The break up came close on the heels of A Night Under the Dam, the band’s second live DVD. Green Carnation was working on their sixth LP (entitled The Rise and Fall of Mankind and slated for a late 2007 release) when the news broke. The album’s release may be somewhat delayed.

There’s only four months left in the year; hopefully we’ll be able to make to the end of the year without another quality band dissolving.

27
Jul
07

Album Review: The Apostasy

Few bands in the Extreme Metal milieu seem as image conscious as Poland’s Behemoth. From the promo pictures on the band’s myspace profile to their masterfully crafted homepage, Behemoth have developed a visual style that acknowledges their roots in Black Metal yet at the same time creates a theme unique to the band itself. This style is quite befitting of what is easily becoming one of the most popular Death Metal bands in the world. Behemoth’s visual flair was in it’s infancy when the band began the transition from straightforward Black to a synthesis of Black and Death Metal. The Behemoth style has developed by leaps and bounds over the course of the band’s history, simultaneous with the band’s conversion to a musical ethos that is easily more Death than Black. And, to be perfectly honest, one would be hard pressed to find a band anywhere in the world that looks as damned awesome as does Behemoth.

Behemoth

But what of the music? Behemoth has gotten progressively better with each album they release. Does The Apostasy, being the most recent endeavor of Nergal and company, continue this trend? The answer, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is an emphatic yes.

From a production standpoint, the album is razor-sharp. Every note, every strike of the drums and every bestial growl rings crystal clear (though the growling vocals, in true Metal fashion, require a glance at the liner notes before they can be comprehended). The musicianship is just as sharp, if not moreso. Each song is full of great riffs, and the drumming is some of the best the listener is likely to hear in all of Death Metal. Furthermore, the trifecta that is Behemoth have incorporated a vast array of sounds into their latest effort, from choral vocals to brass instruments to elements of jazz piano. From start to finish The Apostasy is a wall of crushing sound that manages never to feel too repetitive or boring.

With their latest opus, Behemoth have crafted a modern Death Metal masterpiece. The Apostasy is not to be missed by any aficionado of Black or Death Metal.I have only one complaint, and that is that Behemoth isn’t playing Seattle any time soon. Not even on this year’s installment of the seminal Ozzfest tour! Drat.

05
Jul
07

Pure Fucking Mayhem: A New Documentary

Pure Fucking Mayhem is the title of a new documentary by Stefan Rydehed that chronicles the somewhat sordid history of the legendary Norwegian Black Metal band Mayhem. Recently Manheim, the original drummer for Mayhem, posted on his blog a few clips from the documentary which detail the earliest days of Mayhem. As any Black Metal connoisseur worth his salt should, I have a serious fascination with the early days of the scene–especially after having read Lords of Chaos–and the clips were a real treat to watch. I’ve taken the liberty of posting the clips below. Together, they ecompass the first fifteen minutes of the documentary. Watch and learn.

Part the first:

Part the second:

28
Jun
07

A Morally Reprehensible Music Video

Here is the music video for Waking the Cadaver‘s “Bloodsplattered Satisfaction”. The band hails from my home state of New Jersey. The video full of unsavory gore–as might be expected, given the title of the song. Said gore is clearly very fake and cheesy, but the brief introduction (of sorts) at the beginning of the video makes it a bit more disturbing than it might otherwise be.

09
May
07

The Ten Best Black Metal Songs

I am a Black Metal fiend; there’s no use in denying that. Recently I came up with the idea to compile a list of the ten best Black Metal songs around, and the results are what you see here. Before I get to the list, I should say that this, like any list of the “best” anything is really only my opinion; feel free to disagree with me. I hope you do, in fact. So without further ado, the list.

10) Nokturnal Mortum – Carpathian Mysteries

Sure, they’re a bunch of Neo-Nazi assholes. But that didn’t stop Nokturnal Mortum from making some good music. Carpathian Mysteries Appeared on the band’s Lunar Poetry demo way back in 1996, and the band has yet to write a better song. Carpathian Mysteries truly captures the feeling of a cold Ukrainian night in the dead of winter. It seems like the type of song the Don river Cossacks would have listened to (assuming they listened to metal, that is.)

9) Taake – Hordalands Doedskvad, pt. III

Norway! Land of mountains, fjords and (perhaps most importantly) fog. Such is the image that inexorably comes to mind when listening to the Doedskvad album. Part III, however, by virtue of its stirring and memorable central riff, brings that image to mind even more strongly than any other song on the album. This is the kind of song that makes me want to become fluent in Norwegian and move into a tiny shack on top of a mountain somewhere in Trondelag. Or maybe Hordaland, for that matter.

8 ) Immortal – Call Of The Wintermoon

Ah, Immortal. No other band has captured the aesthetic of running around the woods in silly outfits quite so perfectly as they have. Though the video the band made for the song is one of the most unintentionally (or, perhaps, intentionally) hilarious moments in the history of metal, Call of the Wintermoon is still one of the best black metal songs yet recorded. It’s one of those songs that I can’t help but be reminded of while walking around on clear winter’s night. More importantly, it also helped to establish Immortal as one of the leading black metal acts in Norway, and indeed the world.

7) Emperor – Cosmic Keys to my Creation and Times

“Haunting” and “strangely beautiful” are not adjectives one commonly uses to describe black metal songs, but in this case they are oddly appropriate. The synthesized choral melody lies at the heart of this, the most memorable of Emperor’s songs, which despite its furious blastbeats and tortured, howling vocals, is still very much beautiful in its own mysterious way. Emperor is perhaps the most renowned of the melodic Black metal bands, and songs like this (and Thus Spake the Night Spirit, which nearly made the list,) help to validate that reputation.

6) Bathory – Woman Of Dark Desires

A tribute to Elizabeth Bathroy, the namesake of Bathory, black metal pioneer Quorthon’s band. This song, like much of Bathory’s early work, clearly illustrates the thrash origins of black metal. Woman of Dark Desires is one of the most memorable songs from Bathory’s early days, before Quorthon decided he’d had enough of the Satan business and went on to pioneer viking metal. Now that’s ingenuity for you.

5) Burzum – Dunkelheit

Dunkelheit was the first track on Filosofem, the last Burzum album before Varg Vikernes was shipped off to prison for the murder of Euronymus. Varg always pursued a more atmospheric brand of black metal than most bands of the day, or indeed most bands that have appeared since. Dunkelheit, with its hypnotic central riff, is perhaps the apogee of Burzum’s style of black metal.

4) Darkthrone – In the Shadow of the Horns

Darkthrone is among the most prolific bands in black metal history, with a dozen full-length albums to their credit. Their style has changed over the years, true enough, and though I rather enjoy Darkthrone’s newer sound, it’s classic Darkthrone that truly formed the archetype for many black metal acts to follow. A minimalistic sound–mid-tempo blastbeats alternating with more typical rock drum patterns, and simple guitar riffs–with shoestring-budget production to match. Evidently, it’s been a formula for success for Nocturno Culto and Fenriz. In the Shadow of the Horns, from A Blaze in the Northern Sky, may be the most memorable song from Darkthrone’s early days.

3) Dissection – Thorns of Crimson Death

A lone dark horseman–Death himself, in the flesh–riding through the frozen wastes. Such is the image which adorns the cover of Dissection’s Storm of the Light’s Bane. Thorns of Crimson Death captures perfectly the essence of that image. Beyond that, it is one of the most masterfully-crafted songs in all of black metal.

2) Satyricon – Mother North

A seminal fan favorite, and not without damn good reason. Mother North shows off both Frost’s uncanny skill as a drummer, and also Satyr’s talent for constructing mesmerizing guitar riffs. Like Emperor’s Cosmic Keys, Satyricon’s Mother North manages to be as eerily beautiful as a black metal song can be. There is also a good deal of variety in the song, as it effortlessly drifts between furious blastbeats and oddly-danceable mid-tempo variations. Satyricon has also changed its sound in recent years, but Mother North will remain their masterpiece.

1) Mayhem – Freezing Moon

You probably saw this one coming if you know anything about black metal. Mayhem, with their sordid history of suicide and murder, is the quintessential black metal band, and Freezing Moon is the quintessential Mayhem song. Mayhaps this seems a bit of a cop out, but few songs have achieved as legendary a status as has Freezing Moon. Penned by the late Per Yngve Ohlin (a.k.a. Dead,) Freezing Moon is at first glance a run-of-the-mill song about death and whatnot. But what is great about Freezing Moon is that there is a real feeling of passion; the listener gets a sense that the band actually believes in what they’re playing. And few people have ever believed in death as much as did Per Yngve Ohlin, who committed suicide in a rather gruesome fashion some sixteen years ago. The legend, they say, lives forever, and Freezing Moon is an extricable part of that Legend.