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Nick’s Condensed Metal Reviews: Liberté, égalité, le mal!

September 16, 2011 Leave a comment

Wolves in the Throne Room - "Celestial Lineage"

Here are some random observations on the HEAVY:

Wolves in The Throne Room – “Celestial Lineage” (Southern Lord Recordings) – Balanced on the knife’s edge of transcendent impulse to one side and embarrassing pretension to the other this somehow works – even the blackened Windham Hill interludes. Not quite genius, but close. I hope that the fact that “Woodland Cathedral” was featured on NPR made some pockmarked basement dwelling kvlt fuckwit’s head explode.

Liturgy – Aesthethica (Thrill Jockey) –  Too much of a good thing. It is funny how I liked this so much more before I heard all of it. It’s not bad at all, it just reminds me of Yngwie Malmsteen – in that 13 year old locked in a bathroom kinda way. I’m glad they are doing what they are doing, particularly that drummer – jerk-off or not. I just can’t listen to the whole thing. Small doses.

Brett Easton EllisImperial Bedrooms – Darker and immeasurably more disturbing than the blackest of black metal. Suffocating. Brilliant.

Asva – “Presences of Absences” (Important Records) – Along with Earth, Sunn ((O)) and Wolves this guy is pushing the boundaries. On my first listen I was non-plussed – the vocals grated – but I keep coming back. Arvo meets metal.

Pitchfork.com interview with Leviathan – Can he really be as stupid as he comes off ? Probably. He was right about:

Deafheaven – “Roads To Judah” (Deathwish Music) – Of all the Metalish bands to discover their older siblings My Bloody Valentine records these guys may be the best. Nothing groundbreaking, but solid workmanlike novel combinatory action.

In a previous installment I praised Deathspell Omega‘s “Paracletus.” After living with the record for a few months it occurs to me that one of the things that sets them apart is funk. Sweaty crotched, syncopated, dynamic, able to perform sexually funk. They are French so this is no huge surprise. These Gallic freaks seem to be a microcosm of their proud culture and make a music that in spite of their silly satanic posturing seems to be, at least in part, about sense gratification. Bless their blackened berets. Liberté, égalité, le mal!

What is Pitch Black Brigade?

October 17, 2010 1 comment

Wolves in the Throne Room - "Black Cascade"

It all began innocently enough.  I read a blurb about the band, Wolves in the Throne Room (or as my wife calls them, “Wolves in the Bathroom”) on the web.  The piece described Wolves as an “ambient black metal” band.  I had no idea what that meant.  I knew what black metal was from the days of my youth – poorly recorded heavy metal churned out by bands like Venom who sang silly songs about Satan.  And I also was familiar with Brian Eno‘s ambient music from albums like “Music for Airports,” “Another Green World” and “Apollo.”  I can see Eno collaborating with David Byrne and Jah Wobble, but Eno crossed with Venom?  It just didn’t compute.

I was already intrigued, but then I found a review of a recent album that described black metal this way: “Despite its modest early-’80s inception at the hands of England’s blissfully clueless, crude, and cartoonish (errr, also brilliant, of course) Venom, black metal has emerged as one of the heavy metal movement’s most diverse and astonishingly experimental subgenres, thanks to endless shape-shifting through the years as it quickly suffused the planet with its controversially anti-everything musical and lyrical philosophies.  Now, as the ’00s draw to a close, the style’s leading creative edge appears to reside with bands focused on extended meditations steeped in folk and psychedelic music, atmospheric textures, and mystical pagan themes, e.g. Enslaved, Nachtmystium and Wolves in the Throne Room.”* Black metal diverse, experimental and creative?  That’s not what I remember, but I was hooked – color me fascinated.

So I started to look around and what I found was astonishing; it sounded like a joke, a “mockumentary” like This Is Spinal Tap meets A Mighty Wind at a Viking reenactor convocation. Are you ready for this list?  Here goes:

Eco-friendly “green” black metal? Check.

French shoegaze black metal? Check.

Finnish “trollish hoedown metal?” Check.

Ukrainian autumn-loving drone black metal? Check.

Scandinavian pagan folk metal groups that use both regional folk instruments and regional dialects? Check.

Viking metal bands crooning paeans to Odin, Thor and Asgaard?  Check.

Join me here at Pitch Black Brigade as I discover the good, the bad and the ugly of contemporary black metal.

Wolves in the Throne Room – “The Cleansing” from the album, “Two Hunters”:

*Eduardo Rivadavia, Review of Forest of Stars, “The Corpse of Rebirth,” iTunes, accessed 10.17.10 at 12:45 p.m.