2013 will definitely go down in my own history book as the year I got back into black metal. After getting srsly bored with TRVE black metal and all the stupid corpsepaint and lyrics about killing yourself for Satan or whatever, I thought black metal was forever lost on me. And so it was, until I started exploring the other side of black metal, the one where the black, thick murk of black metal is mixed and matched will all sorts of wonderful things, like drone, ambient, post-rock or even electronic trance beats.
There are many sub-sub-genres of this type of music (post-black metal, atmospheric black metal, cascadian black metal and the list goes on), but I feel they are best described by the term Marco black metal. Meaning black metal that Marco could potentially listen to without being scared, black metal that he could relate to, because it's being played by goofy guys in plaid shirts and skinny jeans (like Liturgy, see above) instead of some Norwegian freak with blood gushing out of his mouth. Black metal for the young, modern listener.
So, in this Recent Shit column (it's been a while since I did one of these), I'm going to briefly talk about some of my favorite Marco black metal albums that I've listened to lately. So plug in your earbuds and read on, hipsters! This is all for you.
deafheaven - Sunbather (2013)
deafheaven play raw, melodic post-black metal that's not afraid to get all emotional on you. Their singer, George Clarke, looks like a dude from Mad Men and seeing a guy dressed in tight jeans and a collared shirt scream and spit on stage is some next level shit, as far as black metal is concerned. One of the main selling points of this band, apart from the hypnotic instrumentals and snarling vocals that are perfectly buried in the mix, is the lyrical content. Songs about estranged father figures or being a kid and fantasizing about a perfect dream house are not your usual black metal-fare, but then again, neither is this band. Sunbather is their highly-anticipated sophomore album and it pretty much delivers everything I'd hoped for. The whole album was streaming in full on Pitchfork Advance, but now it's gone. FUCK!
Dragged Into Sunlight - Hatred for Mankind (2009)
This is cheating, kinda, because Marco wouldn't be caught dead listening to Dragged Into Sunlight, but they have become one of my favorite bands ever. This album is one of those affairs where every element is perfect and fits amazingly well within the whole. The buzzing chainsaw guitars, the superbly varied drumming and the absolutely vile vocal delivery make Hatred for Mankind an instant black metal classic. Also, Boiled Angel is one of the best song names ever.
Altar of Plagues - Teethed Glory and Injury (2013)
I hesitate to even call this experimental black metal because that usually makes me think of weird black metal played with dulcimers and didgeridoos, but this album is, indeed, rather twisted, which is what the cover art brilliantly suggests. All I can say is that it takes more than a few listens to properly process it, but I think the extra effort is worth it. There are many things to be discovered here. Take the first step.
Coffinworm - Great Bringer of Night (2012)
Coffinworm take a more standard approach, in that their black metal is seamlessly fused with doom and sludge elements. It's violent and pitch black and extremely well produced. And they have a song called Spitting Into Infinity's Asshole. Need I go on?
Alda - Tahoma (2012)
If Agalloch is the soundtrack to winter, then Alda is the soundtrack to spring in the mountains. It's a similar brand of hypnotic, highly atmospheric black metal with some folk touches, only it has a warmer feel to it and makes you feel all cozy. The 14 minute album closer Wandering Spirit is my favorite track, but the whole album is solid. And I love the cover art. I mean, look at the faces on those trouts. They're absolutely mortified that they have found a human skull in their river!
Ash Borer - Ash Borer (2011)
Cool name, cool band. These guys are pretty popular and I don't really understand necessarily why, but their music is totally legit so who cares? Huge, sprawling soundscapes of misery and hope are laid out through atmospheric tremolo-picked notes and venomous vocals and I enjoy them immensely. Get enthralled.
Vestiges / Panopticon - Split
Finally, there's this fantastic split between Vestiges and Panopticon. The first is a young band formed in 2010 playing atmospheric black metal about nature and stuff. And they're pretty damn good at what they do. Their side of the split is made up of two songs flowing seamlessly one after the other, morphing into one single journey through the woods. As for Panopticon, you might remember it as that one-man band who made that banjo black metal album about coal miners in 19th century Kentucky. On this split, however, Austin Lunn is going on a more traditional route and conjures up two beastly tracks of buzzing tremolo riffs and anguished screams, as well as a Suicide Nation cover. Everything available right here.
Alright, this is it so far. Please, let me know what you think of these bands. Is Marco black metal the best new trend in metal? I certainly think so! I'm always on the hunt for more bands that sound like this, so feel free to drop me any recs here or on Facebook.
Until next time!