Black Metal

All posts tagged Black Metal

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

VVVV Cover

Artist: Cvttvnmvvth

Album: VVVV

Release Date: 2/12/16

Rating: 9.5/10

Over the past few years, the Northeast Ohio music scene has seen an explosion of Sludge, Doom and Stoner Rock influenced acts attempting to, and often succeeding to, bring raw, gritty heavy rock back to the forefront. But none have dared further, lower, dirtier, eviler and spacier than Youngstown’s Cvttvnmvvth!

Since the release of their 2013 debut, Tough Snake, Cvttvnmvvth have pummeled ear drums with their unique blend of Doom, Space/Psych, Stoner Metal and Post-Punk, with heavy atmospheres reaching as far in Goth as they do into Black Metal. Now, the power trio of gloom are set to release their next monumental output, a cassette tape titled VVVV.

Over the seven tracks that comprise VVVV, Cvttvnmvvth touch base on all the aforementioned styles, piss all over them, and write their own set of rules. The upbeat “Barf Star” opens the tape, setting the tone with a lo-fi, punk slammer of a track, leading into the heavy licks of “Strangle Game.” Along with a DIY aesthetic, the lo-fi production and heavy reverb, especially on the drums, is almost instantly reminiscent of the hey day of the tape-trading Black Metal scene of early 80s acts like Hellhammer and Bathory.

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“Plug Life” is the first track to really slow things down, right down into the dirt! Featuring some Pentagram-esque riffage, the track emphasizes Cvttvnmvvth’s ability to dig deep, while keeping the song grounded and interesting. “Subwolfer” sounds like a long-lost Black Sabbath demo, complete with drummer Kenny Halbert and bassist Eric Tharp holding down a tight, swinging groove over top some deliciously doom-y riffs and almost bluesy vocals courtesy of singer/guitarist Javier. “World Abattoir” continues this vibe before naturally segueing into the spacey, psychedelic doom the concludes VVVV.

“Sex Feast” nods to Candlemass, perhaps if Candlemass had begun in the early 70s, with a very classic doom riff filled with Space Rock flair. Finally, the album concludes on a definite highlight with “Sky Burial.” The epic eight-plus minute track soars high, really high, serving as a well indicator of how Cvttvnmvvth have developed as songwriters.

VVVV has a very genre-bending overall approach, one which says more in seven tracks than most artists do across three albums. Upon listening to VVVV, there’s no doubt that Cvttvnmvvth are both unafraid to take risks, and enjoy pushing the boundaries of which they have set. VVVV is the perfect answer to Tough Snake, the band have not only grown as songwriters, but have set the bar even higher this time around.

Cvttvnmvvth will hold an official release party for VVVV on Feb. 20 at Cedars West End along with Mississippi Gun Club for support.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vh93CQ7ylo&feature=youtu.be

Quorthon with Bathory, circa 1988.

Quorthon with Bathory, circa 1988.

By Jennifer Elizabeth Rose (Social/Cultural Writer and Music/Arts Historian)

After Trad/Doom and NWOBHM really laid down their roots, some sub-genres began to form in the 80’s. Most commonly brought to mind are death and thrash metal but it was with the term “Black Metal” that British band Venom gave us which helped form a more descriptive concept of what was to happen next.

Some of the early bands which really helped shape Venom’s new term/sound were Hellhammer and Celtic Frost (Swiss) and especially, Bathory (Swedish) With this arsenal of influences, new bands were then inspired, namely in the Scandinavian lands into the 90’s and the infamous Norwegian Black Metal movement came about including MayhemEmperorDarkthroneImmortal and controversial to this day, Burzum. These are the most pivotal in the phenomenon which in turn inspired the rest of the world to turn to black metal and then begat scenes throughout Europe and America, though usually they still had the predominant aforementioned death or thrash overtones. (Death SSMercyful FateBlasphemyMorbid Angel, SabbatRootMaster’s Hammer and Rotting Christ are prime examples.)

Since it is arguable among some passionate fans who is really the first Black Metal band, (many say Venom since they coined the term) it is perhaps most reasonable to mention the aforementioned bands first, from the region that fostered it to its “blackest.” And to examine why this occurred. Though in fact, many artists are/were nihilists or misanthropic at worst, satanic references abound in black metal lyrics, themes and supposed activities.

Aside from the infamous murders, suicides and church burnings, it is interesting to note that Quorthon, lead singer and lyricist of Bathory, a hallmark black metal band, eventually swore off these so-called satanic themes which came to originally define Black Metal and its lyrical content. And it was around this time (in the 90’s) when he rediscovered Viking and Norse mythologies and from then on embraced his country’s Pagan roots which led to the rise of yet another sub genre, Viking metal. Was he put off by his brethren’s behaviors? Did he truly have a deep experience with Norse paganism? It is difficult to say, but oddly even though it would seem that he as a leader in black metal his statements were taken out of context and other artists would go on to burn churches and do away with anything that was seemingly not of Scandinavian roots.

This is officially when Black and Viking Metal were divided in two… Oddly with Quorthon as a king of both realms.

However, also at this time, within the second wave of black metal artists who were already long standing and still performing had to contend with additional contemporaries such as Enslaved and Carpathian Forest who went on to embrace even more extreme theatrics. But it was Norwegian act, Gorgoroth, that became the ultimate visual culmination of the genre and seemed to outdo even their predecessors. It would seem that there was nothing left to do but get back to the music.

Up to this point black metal was typically under produced, lo fi and somewhat hard to come by – especially in other countries. Therefore, the performances, the shows, complete with corpse paint and hell fire was what grabbed fans. By the 2000’s, however artists such as Dimmu Borgir basically made Black Metal more of a “norm.” Interestingly enough, it was because of their theatrics. But with that they added symphonic elements to the music and really made it a more complicated genre which developed and that many finally had accessibility to. Such music was made more common perhaps because they adopted a more polished version of the sound. (As with many other types of music). It is not to say that such acts lack substance but rather that they simply put such music into a sort of limelight for many listeners, in their regions of the world and most notably into the ears of American teenagers who before maybe only knew of a few bands).

While this was indeed influential, it in a way marked the end of Black Metal being the original Scandinavian phenomena that it was. And up to now other places in Europe developed more cohesive pockets of their own attempts at the genre. In France, there was a group know as Les Légions Noires which included artists: MütiilationVlad Tepes, Belketre and Torgeist. In neighboring Belgium, there were acts such as Ancient Rites which split a disc with the perhaps more well known, Enthroned. Bands emerged in the US such as Black Funeral and Judas Iscariot alongside any other metal genre. And still as always, back to metal’s birthplace, England with the most famous example of all these: Cradle of Filth.

A place that really put black metal back on the radar in one particular pocket is the Slavic lands. However, yet another subgenre would occur with their own interpretations of it, which would develop with the term blackened death metal and along with their own paganism, Slavic Metal. Stay tuned.

In addition to the some of the Black Metal classics that I chose for Picks of the Week, here is another list of picks for your consideration.

Interview with Bathory’s Quorthon

 BathoryEnter the Eternal Fire from Under the Sign of the Black Mark

 

 GorgorothOf Ice and Movement

 

BurzumFallen-Jeg Faller

 

Dimmu BorgirProgenies of the Great Apocalypse

 

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

BehemothTheSatanist

Artist: Behemoth

Album: The Satanist

Rating: 9/10

Release Date: 2/4/14

One sure way to ruffle a metalhead’s feathers would be to call a Black Metal band Death Metal, or visa versa. However, some acts have managed to successfully transcend the genres of extreme metal, and maintain a continuing sense of artistic integrity and admiration. And few have be able to do so quite as well as Poland’s Behemoth.

No strangers to controversy, Behemoth have brought their Black Metal themes and influences into Death Metal for their tenth LP, simply titled The Satanist. The Satanist comes five years after their last effort, the epic and genre-spanning Evangelion. Since then, the band underwent a series of unfortunate setbacks including lead singer Nergal’s diagnosis and treated for leukemia, as well as drummer Inferno undergoing appendix surgery as well. However, by 2013 the band reconvened to record one of the most devastating and apocalyptic albums in modern heavy metal.

The Satanist is a record that is thematic in tune with some of the ideals of modern Satanism; rejection of the idea of a god and that the individual is at the helm of their existence. Behemoth are no strangers to such themes, as throughout their career they have observed the ideas of both Paganism and the occult as primary sources of lyrical inspiration. Often times, their message has been misunderstand and they have been the target of several religious and pro-Christian protest groups, especially in their native Poland.

Controversy aside, The Satanist is a shining example of how diverse, innovative and thought-provoking extreme music can be. Beginning with the eerie opening track, “Sound Your Trumpets Gabriel,” a barrage of super heavy riffs swarm the listener like maggots to a corpse. “Furor Divinus” and “Messe Noire” continue the sonic brutality before the slow burning “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer” descends into blast beats and grind riffs. Lyrically, the following tracks, “Amen” and “The Satanist” begin to ease off the brutality and offer a more introverted perspective. Finally, on the closing “O Father O Satan O Sun!” an almost bluesy guitar solo hits before a final tidal wave of smashing Death Metal riffs, like the last moment of tranquility before the violent storm begins it’s assault.

The Satanist is an overall solid record for two reasons; the first being that musically, it shows a band maturing gracefully without showing signs of slowing. The drive is still intact and although the sound is slightly more refined, it gives many wannabe American metal acts a run for their money. This is heavy done heavy! The second reason would be that thematically, The Satanist is in many ways both provocative and inspiring. It lifts lines from the Bible as well as Pagan literature and folklore, while also bringing several different philosophical ideas to the table. Overall, it’s an album worth listening to for its lyrical content alone, as much of Behemoth’s back catalog is as well.

All in all, The Satanist defies many notion of what extreme metal “should” be by breaking down stylistic barriers and doing so in an insightful manner. Whether it’s Death Metal, Black Metal, Blackened Death “ProgCore” or whatever you may fancy, this is METAL at its finest.