It’s time for us to delve into the world of Black Metal again with Cheryl Carter’s latest column…
As this column progresses, the format and what’s talked about will change. Because evolution is cool and fact and it keeps it interesting for myself and you lovely readers.
So let’s look at some things mentioned last time and what’s been happening with those bands or records since. That’s fun, right?
Voices are going out on Winterfylleth’s first headline (what, really? How has it taken them so long?) tour. It’s happening in September and it’s going to be great, of course.
Some other publications picked up on Terra – nah, don’t mention it other guys, we know you had your fingers on the pulse – and the band released the record for streaming and purchase on Bandcamp.
Liturgy premiered a video for ‘Quetzalcoatl’ and it’s pretty interesting.
Immortal broke up. It’s terrible news, but honestly, are you surprised? The band have been inactive for a number of years and that was that whole shenanigan with who owned the rights to the band name and y’know, the fact that they broke up once already. But, it’s still sad news as Immortal were one of the few black metal bands who could pull off grim and frostbitten tunes, look ridiculous and still be taken seriously. All is not lost though. Huzzah! Frontman Abbath is returning with a new band. Called, um, Abbath and they’ll be playing a special show in London this September – info can be found here. Demonaz has his project, called, um, Demonaz (these chaps sure are egotistical) so if you need a fix of something Immortal-ish in the future, then you can’t go far wrong with those.
Immortal @ Bloodstock Open Air 2011 c/o Gary Wolstenholme and Graham Shackleton
There’s some hecka interesting black metal out there right now and one of those hecka interesting bands is San Fransisco lads, Bosse-de-Nage. If you want weird, erotic, explicit and downright bizarre black metal, then this band could be for you. They’re on the verge of releasing their fourth full length and All Fours is genuinely incredible. You can find a couple of tracks from the album streaming on the internet but ‘In A Yard Somewhere’ is the latest song to find its way onto the world wide web. Listen and let Bosse-de-Nage take you to some very dark places indeed.
Speaking of streams, Schammasch are back. Sort of. Prosthetic Records are reissuing their debut on vinyl for the first time, it’s all fancy and remastered and while the music itself is not really where the band are today, it’s a glimpse into the beginnings of a band who have lofty ambitions and a whole heap of passion for their craft. The band are currently in the midst of creating new music which promises to climb even higher heights than last year’s Contradiction.
4) Gigs, etc.
Live shows aren’t difficult to find in a city such as London but every so often a show rolls round that takes your breath away. The Great Old Ones found themselves in The Black Heart a few weeks ago and the French band conquered the tiny venue with sweeping melody, extraordinary emotion and a sound that punched through the claustrophobic heat and took hold. Young whippersnappers Conjurer began the evening and while they lost their way a couple of times, there’s certainly a future for them in the UK’s heavy metal scene. When they were good, damn, they were great but every now and then they trod far too close to a nu-metal sound which put a dampener on things a tad. Still, ones to watch. Well done those guys.
Next, Bast, who are everywhere right now and for very good reason. They’re playing Roadburn, have played with Yob and will be hitting the road with Pallbearer for a few days in the Summer and this trio have all to play for. Their blackened doom is a delight to experience and with a sound that appeals to a broad enough range of metal fan, they’ve got an audience almost anywhere. New music would be lovely, but with songs as strong as those from Spectres, they can be forgiven for pushing it.
The Great Old Ones though, blimey. They make you want to give up ever trying to play music. This five piece band have been flying just under the radar for a little while, but if you know what’s good for you, please investigate their small but downright perfect catalogue. They won’t be “underground” for too much longer with majestic records, gorgeous live performances and a wonderfully humble attitude like they have…Gosh. Just…just listen.
If you want to see more otherworldly black metal and the words “hammered dulcimer-led, nature inspired, plants taking over the world metal” sparks your interest, then Botanist are touring the UK. Praise your God. Botanist are delightfully obscure and there’s a whole world living in their landscapes of sound.
Bathory basically started a whole sub-genre of their own and have a lot to answer for in terms of terrible “Viking black metal” but these pioneers are routinely cited as major influences for pretty much anyone making black metal nowadays. 1990 saw them release the seminal Hammerheart and kickstart a legacy that lasts to this day. The sad and untimely death of leader Quorthon still stings but we will always have these records. Not much else really needs to be said except for “listen, enjoy and understand.”
6) Downing The Light
Last, but by no means least is Drowning the Light who released a new record in….OK, in February. But it’s really great so of course it’s still being listened to and it totally counts. From the Abyss is the next in a hugely prolific career from this Australian band and while they’ve been around for a long time, have released an outrageous amount of music and never seem to stop, their output has never suffered from such a full on schedule. From The Abyss continues to trawl the very depths of the coldest, harshest black metal wastelands and where other bands mentioned here are progressively modern, Drowning the Light are sticking to that cold, harsh sound that they’re so good at. That’s not to say that they stay completely in that zone, but instead the duo draw out elements of folk and ambience that they’ve experimented with before and incorporated them much more wholly into the progression of the record. Moments of subtle beauty creep through the otherwise heavy sounds; ‘Secrets of the Darkest Spells’ plays with textures and layers of softness before ‘Cursed Voyage’ rolls into view on doomed guitar inflections and a voice of utter contempt and filth sweeps any semblance of peace out of the picture. From the Abyss is a record that shows Drowning the Light moving forward and is all the better for it.