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

Depressive Black Metal

Melodic Black Metal

Pagan Black Metal

Symphonic Black Metal

War Metal

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

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

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black metal Music Reviews

MARE COGNITUM Solar Paroxysm

Album · 2021 · Atmospheric Black Metal
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adg211288
It has been almost ten years since US atmospheric black metal solo project Mare Cognitum, the brainchild of Jacob Buczarski, released its debut album The Sea Which Has Become Known in 2011. In a decade there are many things that have not changed, such as Buczarski's continuance as the project's sole member and his apparently eternal dedication to the spacey atmospheric black metal music that has been Mare Cognitum's shtick since day one. What has changed though, is how much increasingly stronger a musician he has become in a decade, which has seen Mare Cognitum release four studio albums and three major split/collaboration releases, two of them being with Greek I, Voidhanger Records labelmate Spectral Lore. The most recent of these was 2020's Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine with Spectral Lore, a mammoth double album that held many claims to being the best work from both artists involved.

Still, nothing could really have prepared anyone for the release of Mare Cognitum's fifth main studio album Solar Paroxysm, released in 2021. In short, this is an album that even on the first spin managed to floor me with its sound and level of creativity in such a way that it was like listening to Mare Cognitum for the first time again, which for me was with third album Phobos Monolith from 2014. Although objectively Mare Cognitum has shown improvement with every release up to Wanderers, Phobos Monolith, as with many of the albums we discover artists with, had a bonus nostalgia factor for me that has always made it my personal favourite. However having given Solar Paroxysm a few spins now, I believe we may well be dealing with a release that defeats nostalgia. We are certainly dealing with a record that shows off its album of the year potential from the get-go.

Mare Cognitum has always favoured long tracks and there isn't an album out there that has more than half a dozen on it. On Solar Paroxysm Buczarski has delivered five, each of them passing ten minutes. The total running time of the record is a little shy of one hour. And that's an hour that just seems to fly by so fast that you'd be forgiven if you're left wondering if you accidentally leant on the skip button of your player. There is no song here that feels like it's anywhere near as long as it actually is. At no point does it feel like the writing has been purposely elongated or that the album has become pretentious. The balanced sound between spacey atmospheric melodies and more aggressive tendencies in the riffs is about as divine as this genre can probably ever be, while Jacob's growls adds a primordial edge on top that invokes the extremity of space and the formation of strange alien worlds. This will be a familiar vibe to existing fans, but the immediacy of the record is unprecedented.

Anyone who has been listening to Mare Cognitum this last few years knows already that Jacob Buczarski is a man who knows his craft. But he is also a man who shows that no matter how good his last work was, there's always room to keep honing that craft and against all expectations of reviewers like yours truly, who have already graded his work in the top tier, that improvement can be achieved. And yet Solar Paroxysm is not just good or even simply better than Mare Cognitum's previous releases. It is next level good: an album that's very easy to listen to multiple times back to back and certainly one that will keep being come back to again and again. It is true that only time, much of which is still needed to truly judge such a record, can tell whether something will remain as good once the honeymoon period is over, but I for one, have really good feelings about Solar Paroxysm.

MARE COGNITUM Solar Paroxysm

Album · 2021 · Atmospheric Black Metal
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Necrotica
I’ve long been fascinated with records that explore the sounds of space from an extreme metal point of view. There’s an inherent excitement to basking in an expansive atmosphere while being bombarded by aggressive guitar work and pummeling blastbeats, as bands like Blood Incantation and Mithras have definitely proven. No matter how intense the music gets, there’s something strangely soothing and dreamlike about it; it’s almost as if the music could threaten to become background noise if you’re not paying enough attention. But much like the aforementioned bands, Mare Cognitum - consisting only of California native Jacob Buczarski - brings just the right amount of musical variety and neat embellishments to (mostly) avoid the pitfall of overt repetition. The fact that Solar Paroxysm has no song under 10 minutes might seem like a doozy, but believe me: this album flies by very quickly.

Every song here is a mini-epic rife with the tropes you’d typically hear from a progressive/atmospheric black metal project: long tremolo-picked passages, layered wall-of-sound instrumentation for that “vast” soundscape, and of course the harsh shrieks to top it all off. There’s a remarkable sense of progression in these tracks despite the album’s often long-winded nature, largely due to the fact that most of them come from a similar beginning. The majority of the tracks kick off with a familiar tremolo/blastbeat-driven base, and while that does make the intros a tad predictable, it allows Buczarski to use them as a launching pad to fly off in whatever direction he sees fit. Opener “Antaresian” opts to settle into what I could consider a “funeral waltz” using increasingly progressive 3/4 and 6/8 chugs before climaxing with a beautifully melancholic solo; meanwhile, “Frozen Star Divinization” is a long showcase of mesmerizing tremolo guitar harmonies, almost as if they’re locked in a never-ending duel in the middle of a wintry tundra. “Luminous Accretion” is probably the most technical song on offer, constantly shifting tempos and riff patterns while giving the drums a serious workout; finally, “Ataraxia Tunnels” is probably the most traditionally black metal-oriented track here while maintaining the sense of atmosphere that defines the rest of the album.

“Terra Requiem”, however, doesn’t fit quite as nicely on a stylistic level… and that’s because it’s the best song on the record. Most of it is played at a snail’s pace and really gets at the heart of this record’s dark take on a cosmic sound. The tremolo harmonies and double bass drumming are still prevalent here, just used to color a more funereal and despair-filled picture. Everything comes together beautifully in the middle of the song, as the keyboards soar above the melodic guitar solo; it strikes a brilliant balance between awe and hopelessness that I haven’t heard in quite some time. Speaking of the “picture”, the lyrics of Solar Paroxysm are very appropriate to the music as well. It’s your typical vaguely space-y imagery, but there are some pretty cool stanzas I’ll single out. Check out these ones from “Luminous Accretion”:

“Corporeal fractures Essence separates Violent transposition Self-observed from above, lingering

Communicants, wretched spires Materialize, surround, engulf Great tongues through which Creations are spoken (and thus conceived)”

Or these ones from “Terra Requiem”:

“The last leaves have fallen The last vine has withered The ocean has boiled for so long Choking our breath with fetid steam

We claw for shelter from the heartless sun Which cracks our skin and dries our wells So great is the debt we have incurred So too will we wilt and fade into dust”

Again, pretty vague and hard to decipher, but the imagery itself really fits the sound of the album so I don’t mind in the slightest.

Whether or not you will enjoy Solar Paroxysm will probably depend on your tolerance for the familiar tropes Mare Cognitum often employs to flesh out his sound. It’s true that nothing on this album breaks much new ground for atmospheric black metal, but the quality lies in how it’s executed here. The songs, while often starting the same, eventually lead us to incredibly neat locales by the time they’re done because of Buczarski’s adventurousness with this well-worn genre. Solar Paroxysm is my first experience with Mare Cognitum, and it looks like I have one hell of a back catalogue ahead of me if this album’s any indication.

DROTTNAR Stratum

Album · 2012 · Black Metal
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UMUR
"Stratum" is the 2nd full-length studio album by Norwegian extreme metal act Drottnar. The album was released through Endtime Productions in October 2012. It´s been six long years since the release of "Welterwerk (2006)", and I was beginning to think that Drottnar had folded, but they return on "Stratum" with exactly the same quintet lineup who recorded "Welterwerk (2006)".

Stylistically the material on "Stratum" continue in a similar technical black metal style to the style on "Welterwerk (2006)". The world war II themed lyrical concept is gone here though, and the lyrics on "Stratum" are more focused on despair and philosophy. The latter with a Christian angle, although the lyrics aren´t preachy or tasteless praises to the Lord. They do suggest though that believing in something greater than yourself could be a way out of the despair and sadness of this world. Wether you believe in that attitude or not, I think it´s a fair opinion and personally I don´t feel like I`m being preached to.

I remember listening to "Welterwerk (2006)" and experiencing a sense of disbelief that I was listening to a technical black metal release. That´s not something you´ll hear everyday. Not that black metal can´t be well played and quite technical in nature, but it´s seldom one of the primary focuses of the style. Drottnar are a very different beast though and there is great focus on technical fusion influenced playing on both "Welterwerk (2006)" and on "Stratum". Although not as obviously jazzy (nor as insanely complex), a black metal version of Atheist isn´t the worst comparison I could make. The unfortunately rather obscure Polish band Shadows Land is another valid reference.

Drottnar are not only a very well playing unit, handling quite technical playing with what seems like ease, but they also write some pretty intriguing music. Loads of tempo changes and breaks, odd fast-paced technical moments (which sometimes remind me of early Mastodon), dissonance, and the rare more atmospheric section. The vocals are a blackened type of aggressive snarling. "Stratum" features a powerful, raw, and detailed sounding production too, so upon conclusion it´s a high quality release by Drottnar. I´m not sure why it took 6 years to release (apparently it was already recorced in 2009), but it was worth the wait. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

SABBAT The Dwelling

Album · 1996 · Black Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Extreme metal can be accredited to early 80s bands like Venom, Hellhammer and early Bathory each of which showcased a mix of proto-thrash, proto-black and proto-death metal styles before all the respective subgenera would splinter off into various directions. Japan’s SABBAT (as opposed to the English band of the same name) formed all the way back in 1983 and was heavily inspired by these bands, especially Venom and while all those bands would evolve as the 80s ceded into the 90s, SABBAT sorta maintained that evil as fuck mix of 80s speed metal, proto-thrash and first wave black metal.

For that reason i’ve never been a huge fan of this SABBAT but there are exceptions and the album i return to the most is this exquisitely designed hour long single track titled "The Melody of the Death Mask" which not only features a brilliant display of an ever-changing musical callithump of various musical styles under the auspice of blackened thrash metal but also features one of my favorite album covers in all of the metal universe! The cover art does pretty much prognosticate what you should expect with THE DWELLING as well. While rooted in the same blackened thrash noise metal that SABBAT had latched onto since the beginning, THE DWELLING is a masterwork composition more in the vein of an epic classical opus from a time long ago.

While the 59:48 album is just shy of an hour’s playing time, it is amazing in how it crafts that much playing time off of a few simple melodies that are teased out into different directions with lengthy bursts of blackened thrash metal passages and cemented together with more tender transitions such as the acoustic classic guitar sequence that occurs about the half way mark. Another brilliant feature is the psycho piano parts towards the end and the coolest thing of all is that the whole shebang is played by the trio of Gezol (bass, vocals), Temis Osmond (guitars, vocals, keyboards) and Zorugelion (drums). The overall effect of these subtle changes that alternate with completely different stylistic approaches is very much in the vein of how Jethro Tull crafted an album’s worth of changes with a single theme on their masterpiece “Thick As A Brick.”

THE DWELLING begins with a catchy melodic hook that is nurtured for a while in a classic heavy metal approach fortified with thrash metal heft and then allowed it to shift gears a bit and slowly morph into a different series of riffing. The tempos change around with some crafty instrumental parts, tasty guitar solos and when the vocals do chime in they supposedly revolve around a concept but i’m honestly not sure what it is and can’t seem to find any info about it and in the long run doesn’t really matter since the music is completely enthralling and in a big way. For an hour’s worth of playing time for one sprawling track it would be very easy to lose track but somehow despite all odds SABBAT succeeds in keeping the album engaging.

My only minor gripe is that some sequences do play on a bit too long as the band milks certain ideas for this is actually not very common. The usual status quo is to embellish an idea and its possibilities and then shift on to something similar but different. For example after the first twenty minutes winds down, the music suddenly bursts into a new thrash metal sequence that continues on with different guitar solos, varying drumming patterns and tempo changes. Despite THE DWELLING bringing Edge of Sanity’s lauded “Crimson” to mind, this one is not particularly progressive at least in terms of crafty complexities and time signature changes but it is very artful in how it stitches together various compositions and fuses them into one monstrous musical adventure. By far my favorite SABBAT album and one that only gets better each time i give it a spin.

BLASPHEMY Fallen Angel of Doom....

Album · 1990 · War Metal
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SilentScream213
Blasphemy released the first War Metal album in 1990 by mixing Black Metal’s thin production and dissonant riffing with mid tempo sections of meaty Death Metal and deeper growls akin to the later genre. Aside from the invention of a new subgenre, it’s really nothing special. The music is fine quality with some great riffs and impressive solos, the production is quite awful with drums obscuring most of it at times, and the whole package is relatively average.

It’s unfortunate how low the guitars are in the mix. I feel that with a better production job this album could be great, but the riffing here is about as audible as bass on a Grindcore album. An enjoyable album for a pure bestial mess of aggression, but no masterpiece.

black metal movie reviews

ENSLAVED Live Retaliation

Movie · 2003 · Black Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
FMOTP
No reviews yet & only 3 ratings for the great ENSLAVED's 1st video production? To quote Will Smith, "That...is unacceptable." Live Retaliation is a very worthy representation of ENSLAVED live. The concert itself is a bit short, but the band shows its skill in playing their varied and fairly complex music. They play a good mix of their oldest songs and more recent ones; Monumension was the band's most recent album at the time.

The audio tracks are a very nice addition, for folks who don't own a lot of their records. Grutle doesn't interact extensively with the audience in concert, beyond introducing the songs & band members. However, that's a problem I have with the great majority of live concerts. The audio quality could be clearer at times, but I'm quibbling. If you love some progressive rock along with your extreme metal, nobody does it better than ENSLAVED. This is well worth your time and money!

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