Black Metal

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Black Metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal. It often employs fast tempos, shrieked vocals, highly distorted guitars played with tremolo picking, double-kick drumming, and unconventional song structure.

During the 1980s, certain thrash metal bands established a prototype for black metal. This so-called "first wave" included bands such as Venom, Bathory, Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. A "second wave" emerged in the early 1990s, which consisted primarily of Norwegian bands such as Mayhem, Burzum, Darkthrone, Immortal and Emperor. This scene developed the black metal style into a distinct genre

Black metal has been met with considerable hostility from mainstream culture, mainly due to the misanthropic and anti-Christian ideology of many artists. Additionally, some musicians have been associated with church burnings, murder or National Socialism. For these reasons and others, black metal is often viewed as an underground form of music.

Black Metal Sub-Genres

Atmospheric Black Metal

See: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/subgenre/atmospheric-black-metal

War Metal, also known as Bestial Black Metal, is a black metal sub-genre that eschews many of the genre's usual techniques such as trebly tremolo picked guitar playing and raspy growled vocals in favour of down-tuned power chords played as faster speeds compared to other black metal sub-genres in general, even up to grindcore levels, and vocals that are more in line with those used in death metal. Another relation to grindcore that war metal shares is the tendency towards shorter songs. Production values are also different, exchanging the raw cold of typical black metal for a muddy, bass heavy sound that overall, is aimed to come across as sounding chaotic. The war metal name comes from the common themes of war and nuclear holocaust that artists of the genre use though like with any genre, themes are not a strict requirement of war metal. Canada's Blasphemy are commonly considered to be the first band to truly play war metal.

Depressive Black Metal

See: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/subgenre/depressive-black-metal

Melodic Black Metal

See: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/subgenre/melodic-black-metal

Symphonic Black Metal

See: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/subgenre/symphonic-black-metal

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_metal

Sub-genre collaborators:
  • adg211288 (leader)
  • The T 666
  • Dobbie03
  • 666sharon666
  • TheHeavyMetalCat

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black metal Music Reviews

COLOTYPHUS Остання подорож зневіреної душі (Spiritual Journey of a Forlorn Soul)

Album · 2017 · Atmospheric Black Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
adg211288
Colotyphus is a fairly new black metal act out of Ukraine and Остання подорож зневіреної душі (Spiritual Journey of a Forlorn Soul) (2017), which I'm going to refer to solely by its English title from here on in, is their debut studio album. The band was previously the solo project of their vocalist/guitarist Gennadiy 'Monolith' Kovrizhnykh and released its previous releases, a single and EP as his solo project, but they have expanded to a trio of musicians by the time of this album: Roman 'Morvudd' Sapozhnikov on bass and Katerina 'Todestrieb' Katharsis on keyboards, who also takes over lyrical duties. There is no mention of a drummer anywhere, so I presume those are programmed. The album contains seven original songs and cover versions of Drudkh's Summoning the Rain and Glare of Autumn re-done as one long track which closes the album.

The music on Spiritual Journey of a Forlorn Soul is atmospheric black metal with some occasional light symphonic touches, such as in the first track Ruthless Time. The band's sound is characterised by a reasonably well polished production job, by black metal standards that is. We're not talking an excessively raw and/or cold sounding atmospheric black metal fare here. Another notable feature to my ears is Kovrizhnykh's vocals, which are a growl of a deeper variety than is typically heard in the black metal genre, being closer to those of death metal. With that said there are no musical diversions into death metal present on this release, so I don't think this is intentional on Colotyphus' part, but rather that's simply how Kovrizhnykh's growl sounds.

The band's compositions tend towards a mid to long length, resulting in Spiritual Journey of a Forlorn Soul being quite the substantial debut album for the band. Solidly played and composed, their style isn't the most groundbreaking out there but it's professionally done and powerfully delivered. Getting through the over an hour total duration in one go certainly isn't an issue, though listeners may not come away feeling like each individual track made much of an impact. This long journey though, taken as a whole, proves to be very effective which keeps my regard for the release quite high.

DARKESTRAH Turan

Album · 2016 · Atmospheric Black Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
adg211288
Kyrgyzstan isn't a country exactly well known for its metal bands. A quick online search for example reveals under a dozen ever known to have released anything. Best known of these bands is black metal act Darkestrah, who have been around since 1990 and have released six full-length albums, the latest being this one, Turan (2016). With long-time vocalist Kriegtalith now out of the picture, the band recorded the album with a session vocalist, Merkith, who now seems to have become their permanent replacement.

The music on Turan is atmospheric based pagan black metal. The use of synths and cello gives the album some lightly symphonic touches, though nothing up to the level associated with actual symphonic (black) metal. Some folk influences show themselves every now and then and when they do they err towards what I assume must be the traditional music of Kyrgyzstan, which gives Turan some unique flavours, heard prominently in tracks such as Erlik-Khan. Some of the additional instruments used alongside the traditional metal setup and cello are the mandolin and temir-komuz, the latter of which is a new one on me and I had to look up what it was. Apparently it's a Kyrgyz jaw harp. The band's style isn't always so overt as on Erlik-Khan and other tracks require a focussed listen to make out the fine details that give each track its identity.

Turan is a six track album with a total playing time of 52:24 minutes, with the shortest composition being Gleaming Madness at 6:59 minutes. The longest the album gets up to is its opener One with the Grey Spirit (10:22), however this track's first half basically serves as a really quite drawn out introduction for the release, the kind other bands may have made a separate track on the album, so once the whole band actually get going it doesn't seem to be such a long song after all. To my ears it's a little too long to wait for things to really kick off. It's one of those cases where it makes me want to yell at the band to get on with it.

The long introduction aside, Turan is still a very substantial album from Darkestrah. Solidly written and performed while also offering up some ideas that I've not heard a metal band doing before (this also being my first experience of Darkestrah's music – it won't be the last). The real issue holding the release back is that the music does tend towards a mid-paced tempo which coupled with the long track durations does make some of them, such as the 9:46 Bird of Prey, seem a bit elongated and could either do with a few minutes shaved off, with perhaps an extra track or two then substituted to make up the total time, or some additional experimentation with the traditional instruments, because those parts are certainly the most interesting aspects of the album that sets the band apart from the crowd.

BORKNAGAR Quintessence

Album · 2000 · Melodic Black Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
adg211288
I've had a long held belief that the Norwegian black/viking/progressive metal act Borknagar peaked with their second album The Olden Domain (1997). It's a view that many of my fellow fans seem to share. Recently though I've been spending a lot of time with the band's fourth album Quintessence (2000) and have had to seriously question whether I still believed The Olden Domain to be their best work, or if this one is. Both are quite different albums from the band and both have many claims to that top spot (while a good portion of fans will also throw the hat of the debut album Borknagar (1996) into the ring). Ultimately I had the question answered for me by my actions rather than any serious thought: whenever I thought I'd play one of my Borknagar albums my eyes always strayed first to Quintessence, which in turn has led to me playing this one more than any other of their releases that I own.

The music on Quintessence isn't quite like that of any other Borkngarar album. While many would put the band's transition from black to progressive metal at somewhere during this era of the band, which I think of as the ICS Vortex era after the then lead vocalist (he's since returned alongside his replacement Vintersorg), I find this album to be the band's truest fusion of the two genres, with the actual switch away from black metal only coming with the following Empiricism (2001), making Quintessence their last true black metal release even though they've always kept a blackened edge to their music after this point, notably through growling vocals.

I'd equally make an argument for this to be their most truly progressive metal album as well. Their later work I'd actually describe as an example of prog-lite metal (increasingly true with every new record), because it's not really all that adventurous to my ears despite the progressive label being regularly attached to the band (something I find true of many so called progressive metal acts). Quintessence is a different story, but it's also still a black metal album. To my ears this album is actually more black metal than the prior and first ICS Vortex fronted album The Archaic Course (1998), though it is of a much more melodic kind than that found on either of the band's first two albums, A.K.A. The Garm era.

The guitars of Øystein G. Brun and Jens F. Ryland are semi-raw and black metal based and there is some excellent keyboard work from Lars A. Nedland that absolutely reeks of classic progressive rock influence. It's musically an great sound that Borknagar have hit on for this one album, while ICS Vortex puts on possibly the vocal performance of his entire career here. As a singer mostly known for his clean vocals it's an unusual case to hear him growling, but he does it very well and in quite an epic manner that fits with the music perfectly.

The album's first four tracks are especially a real tour de force. The third of these is Ruins of the Future, which may just be the most epic song Borknagar has ever recorded and is without a doubt my personal favourite of the band (it's actually rare for me to have a favourite song from an artist's whole discography like this). Following straight away is Colossus, which is a great example of something I mentioned being possible (despite popular belief): clean vocal black metal, because growls are only used minimal and for backing purposes in this one, and try denying to yourself that the music in this track is any less melodic black metal based than Ruins of the Future, which is growl dominant. Next track Inner Landscape serves as an interlude a breather after the terrific first half of the album. While the remainder doesn't hit quite the same heights as those first four tracks, it's still very high quality work, with Genesis Torn and the finale Revolt being further tracks of note.

In summary Quintessence is a fantastic album from Borknagar. While I enjoy the works that followed they've never again been able to reach the same level that this is on. It has not only overtaken The Olden Domain as my favourite from the band, but I'd go as far to say that it's also overtaken Iron Maiden's Brave New World as my favourite album of the year 2000. I whole-heartedly recommend it as an essential purchase for both black and progressive metal fans.

You want to know what the real kicker about that finale statement is though? At least here in the UK this is the one Borknagar album not readily available to buy a physical copy of at normal prices. All nine others can be in a range of about £5 to £12 online, but this one will currently set you back about three times that, unless you get lucky. Bloody typical of the metal scene that!

XEXYZ Death Mountain

Album · 2017 · Black Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Eleven years later and who’da thunk that the chiptune meets black metal antics of Rev would find a new light with a new album in the form of DEATH MOUNTAIN. After the intriguing album “Primeval Mountain” which i really enjoy listening to once in a while we get a fairly weak followup. On the first album Rev utilized his best Summoning inspired frantic screaming sessions with some excellent black metal riffs while the chiptune features simply took the place of the keyboard parts found in atmospheric black metal. On DEATH MOUNTAIN however the focus is mainly on the chiptune melodies themselves leaving the black metal in the background which makes this a lot less satisfying than the previous.

“Primeval Mountain” was pretty much a novelty in the first place and although i really liked it and wished it could have been longer, i feel that there really wasn’t a need for a followup as this idea has a short shelf life and this second release is so ridiculous in many ways that it actually makes the whole thing a mockery in many ways. Yeah, i know the idea was half-baked in the first place but i actually love unorthodox ideas however that doesn’t mean they deserve a whole series of expressions. XEXYZ is the perfect example of why such an idea was fun once and should be abandoned and other ideas pursued. This just feels half baked. The black metal parts are weak, the vocals are weak, well everything feels weak actually.

I’m not sure why this was ever deemed a good idea. Even a “Primeval Mountain Part 2” would have been a better plan than this. It just seems unfocused as sometimes the chiptune ideas are dominant, sometimes the black metal ones rule but they never gel together quite like they did on the first album. Whatever the reason for releasing this, i just don’t like it nearly as much as the debut. While there are a few tracks that are OKish, the album just doesn’t gel. Please Rev, enough is enough. Let your idea stand and move on. You lost the whole “feel” from the first album with not only the colorful Zelda-esque album cover but on basically every track on the album. You may not have been aware of what made the first album so unique obviously so don’t go down this path anymore. It’s just not working.

PANOPTICON Roads to the North

Album · 2014 · Atmospheric Black Metal
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adg211288
Austin Lunn's Panopticon project's previous album Kentucky (2012) was something of a unique entry in the atmospheric black metal genre. A combination of lengthy original atmospheric black metal compositions mixed with shorter bursts of American bluegrass, including some covers of traditional songs, it's an album unlike any other I've come across. The follow-up to such an album was perhaps always going to lack the same kind of wow factor as it's predecessor, so it's a good thing that Roads to the North (2014) isn't a complete rehash of Kentucky, but takes some of the same ideas and adds some different ones in to create what is ultimately a very different sounding album.

The most bluegrass thing you will hear on Roads to the North is the instrumental track The Long Road Part 1: One Last Fire, though there are some subtle hints of the influence underneath some of the atmospheric black metal material this time, which is actually a marked difference from Kentucky where the two were presented separately. Lunn deviates from the atmospheric black metal template to also draw on melodic black metal on the album, giving it some more direct sounding passages and more unexpectedly some of these actually shift more towards death metal, resulting in more abrasive elements than an atmospheric black metal album will typically have. On the opposite side of that there are also some influences of post-rock to be found during the softer sections, such as the start of The Long Road Part 3: The Sigh of Summer, a track which transitions through most of the styles mentioned here.

With all these different elements going into it Roads to the North is easily the most diverse of the Panopticon albums I've heard so far. However it's also the one I've had the most difficultly with. Where Kentucky has that really overt wow factor due to being so different to anything else out there and the following album Autumn Eternal (2015) treads less diverse ground (though is still brilliant) making it easier to digest, Roads to the North is much more of a grower. It represents more of a challenge, one that will reward those who have the patience to partake in multiple listens while waiting for the album to really reveal itself to them. But once it does it becomes a very easy album to enjoy for repeated spins. Kentucky will always be special, but those who found it to focus a little too much on non-metal bluegrass work will surely find Roads to the North to be a whole lot more rewarding. Likewise those interested in what a true black metal/bluegrass fusion would sound like will find considerably stronger evidence of such a thing being possible here.

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