Monday, December 15, 2014

"You call your metal black? Its just plastic, lame and weak"



I started writing this post in February 2014, but due to lack of time I never finished it. Nevertheless- my opinions and annoyement haven´t changed at all lately, rather on the contrary. While there´s some seriously good music in the world, some things are just so plastique and embarrassant that it makes even Nargaroth looking like the real deal in comparison. While "The Day Alcest Killed The Smiths" is yet still looming in the horizon, please stay a while and share the embarrassament with me. Merde!


"Robert Smith Ist Krieg"


The bucket to spill my guts on the matter leaked over in January 2013, as I was reading the newest issue of Inferno Magazine. An interview of this, yet another new one- man- band stated how his music was all about "combining Burzum and Cure together". Later, I stumbled across an article I wasn´t really sure it was parody or not, which reminded me again of really wanting to write about this topic. To cut is short, yes- black metal fans are elitist assholes and so are the musicians. Black metal is elitism. Sue me for that.
But why u mad, bro? Well, I have never kept it as a secret that I always want to do something else with my bands than the others are doing. With Finntroll, we drifted more towards whatever chaotic circus- music and even psychobilly when this humppa- folk- thing got oh so trendy. And the stuff Moonsorrow has been done since Verisäkeet and especially Hävitetty has been this heavy, atmospheric...well, Cure- and- Burzum- influenced black(ish) metal. Whenever our style seems to be get a bit too popular, I (un)intentionally drift towards something else. The spirit of Loke is strong.

Now don´t get me wrong here- I don´t think we started the thing, quite the contrary. As I was heavily inspired by Drudkh especially when we were doing Hävitetty, and listened a ton of Esoteric, old Katatonia and In The Woods as well at those times, I also wanted the music to be a reflection of my inner feelings at that time. Plucked, distorted huge guitar chords with the drowning and pulsating mass of reverbs and dreamy soundscapes with even more of those "cure- guitars" and slower tempos than ever. We were actually laughing about being all shoegaze at the time. I´ve always loved that sound and felt we really took the musical depression those band represented into another, heavy level without forgetting our roots in black metal. As said, you can´t spell Moonsorrow without sorrow, heh!
But when composing Varjoina... in 2009, we were already seeing so many of this same "post"- shit around that we intentionally took another leap on our sound and gave more room for going as heavy as we possibly could, with still having those "cure- guitars" there with the massive, drowning synths. More palm- muting, less open strings, basically, because we thought everyone and their friends were starting to do that... uhm, Curzum- thing. Some bands I liked and thought we had much in common, like Fen and Austere, while some -in my opinion- took the "black" completely out and desecrated the whole thing. And the worst of them all was Alcest, having the commercial success of theirs combined with the absolute cheesing of that sound we held dear.


"Hello Kitty Elohim Meth"


I absolutely detested Alcest at that point and thought they were the epitome of something which had took Black Metal´s best kept secret and turned it into something that my mom would like. Retrospectively speaking, it´s not hard to see why we went rather heavy and oppressing sound instead of this Smithsesque whining shit everyone and their girlfriends seemed to love.
Reading things like...

"A sinister mood???.... That really bothers me that you should say that because that proves that I did not succeed in communicating what I had inside me... I hope that this time [talking about upcoming material] there will be no compromise as you are not the first person to feel my music as dark music"
[source: wikipedia]

...didn´t make me any more comfortable either. I only could interpret this that the guy makes black metal into a living, pissy chorus- guitar- filled joke without while having absolutely nothing to do with ideologies related to it...while some of us here were trying to actually be serious here. I don´t think Dance of December Souls was supposed to be about "Fairy Land" nor I found any traces from elves farting sparkles from Drudkh´s material either. I don´t know if this Neige has been studying too much maths instead of listening to his music collection, but in this case, two sad, sorrow- and hatefilled and longing negatives DO NOT MAKE A POSITIVE.
The absolutely worst thing though, is this dude´s side- project called "Lantlôs",which sounds like something you would here in a fucking spa treatment with blast beats.


"Over Brooklyn Grater Himmerik"


In the beginning there was Black Funeral, Demonic Christ, Absu, Grand Belial´s Key and countless others, original bands- now there is Liturgy, Wolves in the Clone Room and Deafheaven (what the LIVING FUCK is that supposed to mean? A special place after death where you can´t hear their musical parody?). While black metal is supposed to evolve naturally, I´m not particularly sure this is the way I have been depicting it to happen over the years. But then again, it´s America- the land of eternal possibilities we´re talking about! So I guess when that one guy introduced Hvis Lyset Tar Oss for the other guys in that emo party in 2011 or so, things started to go a bit astray. Suddenly the new wave of American black metal was not about their original interpretation of the sound evolving naturally with the corresponding ideologies- but rather quickly dividing into two different, set- in- stone categories.
First we´d have unemployed crust punk- looking guys doing a ton of drugs. Bandmembers come and go, contact addresses seem to be rather uhm...of evolving sort, and most of the music is released mostly through small distros. Ideologies tend to drift more on the hateful side, yet it´s more about being angry on the people who have actual homes and washing machines. The music? Pointless "psychedelic", nowhere- going, mindlessly improvised 20- minute long epics with lyrics against animal cruelty. Welcome to the Finnish punk scene in the early 90´s, lads, please leave your jacket somewhere before you step through the metal detector/ time machine.
On the other hand, there are guys who did cut their hair, got a shower, stopped doing those drugs and dress up in clothes Scandinavian pensioners regularly wear when taking their daily stroll outside. They have jobs, and judging from their outlooks, they play it cool there while having a bit frightening and mysterious hobby to brag at that advertising agency they work with the other people who look just like them. Just make sure no- one ever catches them listening to Marduk with pleasant volume from their $ 700 iPhones, though. They spread positivity, success and the melancholic American dream. If the Republicans ever played black metal, I´m pretty sure this is the equivalent of that. The music is that major chords, more spa music and blast beats with a top- notch production and the ideology is about something between a café Latte and men´s healthcare products.


"I am the African- American Entertainers/ Du som kanskje ikke gillar Gud- split 7"


Watching Fenriz in "Until the Light Takes Us" documentary (2008) trying to explain how he feels his beloved form of art was taken away from him and twisted into something complete antithesis of it made me feel rather related on the matter. While black metal was supposed to evolve and challenge itself constantly while being the storm of a creative negativity, we got a watered- down, politically- correct form of mass- entertainment instead. How did we end up from a rebellion wrapped in black and accompanied with noisy music into a freak circus where there´s a soft heart beating inside of the World´s Most Tattooed Strongman? Maybe the music was just too good to pass away even though the ideologies were a bit controversial- or maybe the controversy was the first attraction. 

Whatever the reason, I´d still not buy those Dimmu Borgir jogging pants they sell at Nuclear Blast webshop.


The writer is a 36- year old elitist asshat who has played black metal with a Hello Kitty guitar and this post could had been originally released in 1996, 2004 and 2009 with different examples of the bands.

9 comments:

  1. I think this is one of your best blog posts so far. Really great.

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  2. #umadhenri

    Seriously though.. I feel you one hundred percent! Hahaha

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  3. I personally like Alcest, but I don't consider them to be black metal and neither does Neige himself according to several interviews. Deafheaven and Liturgy, however, I absolutely detest. The pictures of those guys alone makes me want to set their records on fire, made much worse by the fact that they pretend that their boring "I listened to two whole Burzum songs on YouTube" guitar riffs accompanied by homo-erotic wailing is the natural progression of black metal or something.

    "Fantasizing the sight of Manhattan; that pour of a bitter red being that escapes a thin frame. The rebirth of mutual love. The slipping on gloves to lay tenderly. "

    "I watched you lay on a towel in grass that exceeded the height of your legs. I gazed into reflective eyes. I cried against an ocean of light."
    - Deafheaven

    Holy shit! Break out the crow carcasses and spiked maces!

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  4. The latest Alcest album is devoid of any traces of bm elements/attitude/aesthetics. At last. I find it a more than honorable try, not to say a rewarding experience (I'm still not sure I've heard a better album this year, after all).
    So the bm stuff was clearly holding Alcest back, yes. I get the spirit now. Gorgeous sound production also helps.

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  5. Oh Lord Jebus Christ with those Deafheaven "lyrics". If there ever was a time for new "black metal wars", I´m starting to believe now it´s the time. :D

    In all seriousness, I did appreciate Alcest when the first appeared, but too much is too much of that cheesy whining which got expontially way worse throughout the years passing. There´s a fine line between "emotional" and "corny", and I honestly think most of these alcests lost it before they even started. I for one absolutely love dramatic and over-the-top emotional art- heck, 95% of the music I listen to is to give me _feelings_ and _emotions_ , but it´s ART in itself to actually know how to make it work without embarrassing the listener but actually enhancing something inside him/ her.

    To clarify, compare this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99j0zLuNhi8 into this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3aF9AJm0RFc and you probably get my point. ;)

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  6. Nice posting.
    Interesting and valuable information .Thanks for sharing with us.
    Putting People First

    ReplyDelete