Black metal is fucking dead.
Okay, okay, back up. That might be a slight overstatement but, at the very best, black metal is squirming around in moribund agony. I mean, does anyone seriously care about traditional black metal anymore? Is there anyone who actually gets excited about grizzly dudes in corpsepaint shrieking about frozen landscapes and dark forests? Maybe there is. All I know is that, save for Inquisition, I can't remember any old-timey black metal band who managed to impress me during the last two years or so.
No, oldschool black metal - TRVE BLACK METAL, if you will - is a disappearing breed. Nowadays, in 2012, the hot thing to do is take the basic elements of black metal and breathe new life into them, by mixing them with elements that belong to other genres. Wolves in the Throne Room came up with the cascadian black metal genre. Njiqahdda took black metal and steered it towards an ambient sort of zone. Panopticon merged black metal and bluegrass, combining fast tremolo riffs with jumpy banjo melodies. Horseback - Marco will fill you in on them later - added drone and some Americana twang to black metal and turned it into something amazing. Dordeduh are doing a great job of rekindling the folk-black metal love. Krallice are awful and boring and I don't really care about what they did to black metal.
So what's the deal with Germ? Well, it's a one-man project from a guy who is also in a bunch of other bands I'm not gonna pretend I heard about. But with Germ, he decided to take black metal places it's never gone before. So how does black metal/post-rock/shoegaze/electronica/synthpop sound? Pretty damn horrible, right?
|I can tell you're very excited about all this.|
Well, no, because this unlikely mash-up is actually fucking great. There were so many ways this could have gone bad, but everything is just right. It's like a sonic Noah's arc, where a bunch of totally different sounds live in harmony with each other. You have your buzzing tremolo riffs alongside electronic dance beats. Piercing pterodactyl shrieks are followed by emotional clean vocals that remind me of The All American Rejects or some shit. The long-winded song structures of post-rock reside peacefully with short synth-based interludes. The lyrics revolve around space, galaxies, planets and love, man. You can tell that this is a different brand of black metal simply because I showed Marco a song and he liked it.
So I think Wish is one more nail in black metal's coffin. Nobody cares about grim frostbitten necroforests anymore and hipsters have invaded the genre, just like they have invaded everything on this planet. Luckily, some of them manage to actually produce original and interesting music that shatters the boundaries of black metal, reshaping it into whatever the hell they feel like reshaping it. In this case, synth-pop infused black metal. I can dig it. There's no point in crying over the good old days.