Tuesday, February 28, 2017
UNEARTHLY TRANCE - Stalking The Ghost
Ya know I have a lot to say about this one but first I want to get some things out of the way. First off to anyone out there in the music media who wants to use words like "here's the long awaited album / it's been seven years since their last release / do they still have the fire in them?" Look here people, in that time span these guys gave us fans the likes of SERPENTINE PATH which was basically UNEARTHLY TRANCE with Tim Bagshaw. You also had THE HOWLING WIND and a fuckin THRALLDOM reunion EP last year. It's not like these guys dropped out of music and became hermits. Yeah I know you got into UNEARTHLY TRANCE through their V album. But then they broke up to play with other people, oh the heartache you must've felt. LOL! You heartbroken little hipster douche, fuck you.
Now with that out of the way I will say that I am a fan of UNEARTHLY TRANCE but (and here it comes) a side from their Season of Seance / Science of Silence (opening cut "Raised by the Wolves" hell yeah how could I not be bias) I've become more of a fan of their short form releases (EPs and splits) than their long players. My favorite UNEARTHLY TRANCE's album is a playlist on my computer containing all of their short form releases. Seriously that's their best stuff, even the covers. When that Ouroboros 2xCD came out I was like why bother. I think my playlist is better because I include all the other bands they play with on the splits. But getting to the niche point here, UNEARTHLY TRANCE are a great fuckin band but in small doses.
So I come to this new one jaded to a point. I mean is this one gonna be a continuation of V which I thought was a weak album. Don't give me that "critically acclaimed" bullshit. As long as Relapse is keeping your magazine or website afloat with advertising revenue none of their releases will ever be underrated by review scribes. Relapse could release an album with sixty minutes of Jarboe farting and it would get an above average review from music media scribes as long as the label was ponying up the dollars. But I digress, I also read that this new one might be a return of their old days. Fat fuckin chance at that. Nope actually it's just a decent album by a band you're familiar with.
I mean fuck the hyperbole people here's what you get. Typical heavy opener with " Into the Spiral", upbeat sludge rocker that branches off midway to let in some breathing room. It ends nicely, bang your head because it's the shortest cut on here. Next couple of songs are typical bombastic sludge which Ryan Lipynsky and co. are known to do so well and easy. "Lion Strength" stands out best. "Invisible Butchery" is a step back to a death doom past with lumbering bass and cavernous vocal growls. Probably my favorite track on here. "The Great Cauldron" sounds like a bunch of ideas crammed into one nine minute track. Kinda like listening to one of their EPs minus the breaks. The final track is like a throwaway drone bore. Oh well four great cuts out of eight and that's about it but then that's all I expected and predicted.
BATTALIONS - Nothing to Lose
Black Bow Records
According to the promo info Black Bow Records is going to put out this band's second release some time soon. But in the meantime they've reissued their debut full length which came out last year. Well ain't that nice. So after listening to Nothing to Lose I believe the working title for their second one should be Nothing to Gain. Of course that depends on the band getting any better at their craft.
BATTALIONS is a British stoner sludge act that take some of their cues from US southern sludge bands, most of whom live within a hundred miles of the very home I'm writing this from. Now if I consider recent efforts by bands from my home territory to be mediocre and boring in recent years how well am I to take a band from across the pond doing the exact same thing? At least their singer doesn't use a fake Southern drawl.
BATTALIONS is a five piece act, no pun intended, that combines chunky riffs, funky grooves and swagger when they wanna move uptempo to produce eight cuts. Song subject matter consists of all those Merry o'l English traditions like drinkin - "Whisky & Wine", the plight of welfare mothers and children - "Deadbeat Dad Beat Dead" and one that still has me puzzeled - "Hoods Up, Knives Out". Hmmm, is that really a ghost on the front cover or something else? Yeah that's just a few examples. Imagine an Oi band who skipped over IRON MONKEY and listened to copious amounts of SOURVEIN.
RESONANCE CASCADE / JARNBORD - Hyperakusi split release
Wooaaargh / Downfall Records
Everyone loves a good grindcore split release right? Well I know a few who do but as for me it better be fuckin good. I have my own criteria for what I call good grindcore. For one thing the vocalist must sound like a complete nutjob. I want to imagine he or she sees demons. I wanna imagine that after their performance they have to be heavily sedated or locked up until next time. Musically I don't wanna be preached to by someone with no life experience and third I want fuckin grinding fuckin metal. I'll take variation as long as it ain't metal core.
Well ain't I the lucky fuck here with this split between two Swedish bands, RESONANCE CASCADE and JARNBORD. So this is a collaboration between the record labels WOOAAARGH and DOWNFALL RECORDS. Also the title "Hyperakusi" is Swedish for hypersensitivity to everyday sounds. OK that fits right in here with these two bands. The first one RESONANCE CASCADE fits into my not so humble opinion of what grindcore 2017 should sound like. Just like I have said earlier, RESONANCE CASCADE fit that idea perfectly. Obviously should be a better description since the band members are veterans of the extreme metal scene for years. RESONANCE CASCADE even put out a 10 song 7” EP via the American label Cricket Cemetery back in 2014. They contribute 9 great songs on here that you won't forget.
On the other side of the coin we've got JARNBORD who's contribution on here is six cuts which actually sounds like 80's era hardcore. I'm sure they've listened to a few ANTI CIMEX or MOB 47 releases. This kinda sounds like an old tape from that era. Of the two bands I'd say RESONANCE CASCADE wins out.
GRIM RAVINE - The Light is From Below
Black Bow Records
I wouldn't say this English sludge act is breaking any new ground on this their second release. But to their credit this four song EP will be like manna to any fan of dark dense grimness that some others in this genre have chosen as a path. Yeah that would be me since I love crawling death doom like sludge. I hate the wanna be hippy shit that's invaded the genre. I hate happy bands with their colorful cover artwork. And yes I hate BARONESS.
Of the four cuts on here only one, "Translunary", strays from the formula of darkness, albeit still within the grey area. The band also adds a slight atmospheric reprieve on the final cut "Vacant Mass". The vocals are definitely in the black metal vein of cavernous grunts and harsh shrieks. But it's the massive crushing riffs that push this over the top.
The opener "Shrine of Misery" is like a beast rising out of the depths to crawl upon the land in order to feed of it's dwellers. "Hypernova" follows suit but slightly up tempo. All in all this is a decent release. I've listened to it a dozen times in the past two days so I'm kinda thankful of the band's choice of a short format release. It keeps things interesting and within theme. Anything longer and boredom would commence plus it would feel like a mass of ideas shoved down the listener's throat.
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
BLACK BLEEDING - The Awakening reissue
It's getting to the point where I should change the header for the blog to Home of the Reissues since I've been reviewing a lot this month. That's fine of course because then you and I would miss out on past gems that for some reason didn't get their due respect or at least some recognition that fans would want to know about. Case in point right here, BLACK BLEEDING, a blackened death three piece from Belgium but considers themselves a Belgian/ French band.
The band is not new in fact they've been around since the late 90s and have three full length albums under their belts to show for it. Their most recent was A Bright Future which was released in 2014. This one here, The Awakening, was a demo they put out back in 2005. It was originally released on tape by Nihilistic Holocaust back then. But now the original label has re-released it with new artwork, layout and basically making it look like a semi-decent package. Trust me if you've seen the older cover art then you'll be glad at the upgrade.
Of course I had to go listen to their last two full lengths (the previously mentioned A Bright Future from 2014 and it's predecessor The Great Satan from 2009) to get some feeling because this one predates those two. The Awakening is five songs of which I believe the band was in the midst of a re-branding in order to see where they were headed. The albums that came after this are more melodic which is why this is interesting because on here the songs all have an old school feel, yeah there's melody but also more experimentation.
This thing opens with "The Sleeper has Awakened", and uses a soundbite from the movie Dune as well. A good send off with savage blackened death riffage, both cavernous and shrieked vocals. After a barrage of sound the band knows how to throw a segue in before the soloing and blast beat attack commences. That same theme carries through on the next three cuts. I'd say " Lord of the Worms" is a punisher. Then we get to cut five, "Demonic Quantum Boundaries" where the band starts off with some psych blues rhythm and whispers but then kicks into overdrive with a hellish assault. The thing ends almost hypnotically with a jam out and them a atmospheric keyboard outro.
VIOLENT OPPOSITION - Courage And Conviction
Horror Pain Gore Death Productions
Listening to this is like stepping into a time machine back to the mid to late 80s. Oh how I remember those days very well. I started publishing my first fanzine back then, you probably heard about fanzines they were printed on paper. Anyways if I were to review this back then I'd give it a four sentence treatment mentioning who they were and calling this "DRI style short fast jazz influenced hardcore with political social lyrics, 33 songs on two 7"ers. Then I'd include the price, $3.00?, and an address.
But that was thirty years ago, it's not on vinyl, it costs more than three bucks and honestly I don't know if they are serious or paying homage. Still it's the same thing I heard thirty years ago minus the anti-Reagan song. Although I'm sure that will come on their next album and it won't be Reagan they're singing about. If ya know what I mean. The first fourteen songs, all under a minute in length, sound like one long cut with the vocalist complaining over the same eclectic riffs and drum beats. The poetry slam finally ends at the fifteenth cut when the music takes a slower almost sludgey tempo. After that slight reprieve the short songs continue on that same formula till the 33rd and final song. Ya know what? This wears ya out and out of the 33 there's only one cut longer than a minute.
So where do I start? I think the poetry slam analogy works to describe this release as well as it's creators. I remember back in the late 80s/early 90s there was this short creative trend of performance art coming out of the Anarcho punk scenes in NYC and San Francisco. You'd have someone reading their social conscientiousness writings while a band or a lone musician played behind them. Sometimes the music was classic jazz, ambient noise or straight up hardcore riffage with blastbeats. Of course it wasn't original, they stole the idea from England's CRASS. But VIOLENT OPPOSITION's take on it leans more towards jazz influenced albeit with old west coast power violence styling.
As far as the subject matter being displayed in the lyrics well given the choice I'd rather go to the nearest construction site, dig through it's dumpster to find a nail ridden two by four and beat myself in the head with it then to listen one more time to these naive rantings. Now with that said I shy away from judging a band by it's politics, in reviewing them that is. I'd say if you're into this then hey it'll be a treat. You can blast this while dressing into your anarchist uniform before you go out with your comrades to smash that evil Starbucks.
Labels: Hardcore, Horror Pain Gore Death Productions, VIOLENT OPPOSITION - Courage And Conviction review
Saturday, February 18, 2017
YAYLA - Pas.to.rale
Before I even get into the music by this one man project I wanna point out that the man, Emir Toğrul, makes each copy of this CD. It's also available on cassette. But even the t-shirts and patches are made by Emir. The guy is a true artisan, he paints the discs, cuts and inserts the prints for the jewel case and jacket, making all non-machined parts from scratch. All current and upcoming merch comes to fans direct from the hand of the creator himself. This guy is really DIY.
As far as the music goes well this is my introduction to Emir Toğrul's work in YAYLA. He's been involved in this ambient black metal project since the late 90s releasing four full lengths and after a long hiatus of four years Pas.to.rale is his fifth. I must say using the ambient term really does not convey the intensity with which the music on here is portrayed. At times this is very hostile but with some mild atmospheric touches provided when Emir breaks out the synths and the momentum to change the pace. I'd say more of a blackened doom feel is it.
Yeah this is the type of black metal I wanna hear at 3 am after work while drinking a beer. Songs like "Funeral" and "Everyday Is Death For Us" really make you feel like Emir knows the deal. Then of course he'll toss a real bone gnawer "Mantras Of Separation" which is my favorite song on here. A blackened death meets doom ripper. Another cool one is "Endless Regrets", an instrumental with hints of psych damage. There's a couple of instrumentals on here, the later one "They Are Losing You From Me" made me wanna say Yeah I was raised Catholic too. It's those synths that sound like church organs and this is from Turkey as well.
SARGATANAS - The Enlightenment (reissue)
If you are a regular reader of SFM666, and frankly who isn't, then you know I like talking about and promoting reissues by bands who never got their due during their heyday. I mean there are two types of reissues out there for metal public consumption. There are ones which are already widely available prior to being reissued that labels are just trying to make a few bucks on. And then there are reissues like this which are purely for the fans without all the bells and whistles, extra tracks, rehearsal demos or extra live DVDs.
This one here is a new one for me and unless you're an old school metalhead from Mexico than it's new to you also. There are a few bands out there named SARGATANAS, this is the old one from Mexico. Their 1996 release, The Enlightenment, was one of the more important releases of that scene back in the day. Now after over two decades it's been reissued on CD without any undue or unnecessary upgrades. I mean why would you fuck with an evil sounding death cult of death/doom?
While I listen to this gem it's easy for me to push aside what has come afterwards and bask my mind into what was and is damm good. You have more than an hour's worth of satanic glorification in it's down-tuned glory. I fuckin love it. In fact listening to this, fully knowing that these guys were true to form, makes me question and wonder of the genuine integrity of many modern provocateurs in this genre. Yeah the production is lacking in giving the trudging riffs their due. Plus what solos there are seem poor to that extent. But anyways you get twelve death/doom metal cuts that fill you with the dread you crave.
BLASPHEMER - Blasphemer
You know how many bands there are named BLASPHEMER? Do you know how many songs there are out their titled "Blasphemer"? Would you like to know how many times I've been called a blasphemer? The answer to all those questions is lots. Now this particular BLASPHEMER hail from England and could be the original BLASPHEMER then again maybe not and I'll explain.
This band originally started out back in the 1990s playing death metal. Yeah I'm shocked as well. They started out in 1990, released a few demos over the first couple of years and then in 1995 decided to change their name to DOMINION and their style to death doom. They even added a female singer to look the part. That resulted in them getting signed to Peaceville Records and releasing two albums. Which I'm sure you can get from their back catalog really really cheap.
Anyway in 2014 two original band members, Matthew "Mass" Firth and Cristiniano Cagna, decided to resurrect BLASPHEMER because hey death metal is big again. Ya know something else, SLAYER is pretty much tits up so hey how bout another band doing SLAYER meets death metal. You wanna know how many bands have gone that route in the past twenty years? About as many who are named BLASPHEMER. Now I'm not talking a little SLAYER influence, no this band dives in head first.
They could've called this release Reign in Death or Reign in Blasphemy or even Reign in Death and Blasphemy. I mean they took the riffs, the solos and the whole song patterns and didn't add much of their death metal legacy except for a few slower tone breakdowns and basic DM vocals. It's not bad considering the state of the act they're borrowing from.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
PESTIFER - Execration Diatribes
This is the debut full length from Portuguese death metal act PESTIFER. Ya know whenever I think of Portugal I'm reminded of this guy I knew in the military. He was a short Portagee fellow, kinda weird because he had this obsession with little girls. He use to carry this pocket knife and sharpen it constantly. If we were lucky enough to get fresh fruit, like apples or pears, for chow he would pull out his knife and cut slices of the fruit and eat em like that. He then tell us tales of his youth growing up poor in Portugal. How he would stab other kids just to steal their fruit.
Anyways one day he got into an argument with another guy and then threatened to stab him. It was broken up and all was peaceful we thought. The next morning we found the little Portagee in his hooch dead with his knife in his chest. Apparently the guy went to bed with his knife open and must've rolled over on it several times at least. We all thought that was a horrible way to go especially in a combat zone. So we dragged his body over to a nearby ditch and lobbed a few grenades into it. Sent him home like that with a letter telling his parents about him being a hero and saving his buddy's life. The fucker even got a medal out of it.
But anyways I digress, so if we're to come away with anything as far as the death metal genre goes in 2017 I can say for certain that Execration Diatribes will be considered one of the year's best. Just for the record PESTIFER is Latin (a dead language, you might've heard of it) for Plaguebringer. Well fuck if that doesn't describe this band to a hilt. This is (after a short intro) punishing from beginning to end and not repetitive in any way. This is a homage to old school US death metal aka: MORBID ANGEL and DEATH but of course these guys navigate their own touches in. The band cover the DM bases as in thick crunchy riffs, acid tinged solos, the driving maniacal drumming and the vocals as if they conjured up some demonic presence to handle the mic duties.
Actually PESTIFER is a trio with three out of the four previously mentioned duties done by guitarist/vocalist Pedro Silva. The rest of the band consists of Diogo Pereira on drums and the guy who somehow holds the rhythm down and yet breaks spines with tempo changes, bassist Jorge Marinho. This is the type of release you send to your enemies with a letter stating "Here's the soundtrack of what I'm going to do to you and your whole fuckin family." Hell they're all be on a plane the next day headed to some place safe like Syria.
MORTA SKULD - Wounds Deeper Than Time
So what we have here is MORTA SKULD's long awaited comeback album. OK I'm cool with the idea of this being a comeback because of the following. Many years ago MORTA SKULD were one of the best death metal acts that banged their way out of the American midwest and their hometown of Milwaukee in the early 90s. Remember that decades ago the Milwaukee Metalfest was the biggest thing around as far as extreme music fests go and MORTA SKULD were hometown heroes. The band had two good early albums, their debut Dying Remains in 1993 and the follow up As Humanity Fades in 1994. I've got them, you reading this have them too but what followed was a not as good or what should have been. So the best we can come up with here is that the band, aka: Dave Gregor - vocals and guitars and the new guys, have created an album that they hope is worthy enough.
So is it? Well if you're an old fan than you know that MORTA SKULD had two speeds, mid-paced and deathly slow. All of that hasn't changed. “Breathe in the Black” is a good starter for a welcome home to the DM party. But then the album falls into that rut which a lot of DM acts from the past are doing. I call it Death Metal 101 and it's generic sounding. JUNGLE ROT does it and the past couple of OBITUARY releases follow suit. It's like the band is handicapped to break out. There's a couple of cool songs like "Hating Life", "Devour the Chaos" and the title track where you are just waiting for death metal fight to break out and it ends up being nothing to see here, move along.
Look I'm bias OK, I like this release but I have to be honest. I was expecting the new blood Dave Gregor got with him would bring in the old with a new sense of urgency. Hell GRAVE has had a new lease on life for quite a few years now. So yeah I was hoping the same for MORTA SKULD. Unfortunately it's gonna sit next to a bunch of JUNGLE ROT releases on That Shelf.
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
VOID RITUAL - Spirits of the Black Past
Ya know to me starting off your release with a cover song, in this case "Mountains of Might" from IMMORTAL's Blizzard Beasts release, doesn't seem like a good idea. Damm if it doesn't sound exactly like the original. Nothing wrong with cover songs but near the back of the release seems more appropriate. Be that as it may VOID RITUAL is actually a one man project by multi-instrumentalist Daniel Jackson from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Personally I wouldn't consider the American Southwest a kingdom that's grim and frostbitten. I've heard it's a dry heated climate but then the desert can be cold at night.
This is not Jackson's sole creative musical project. He's also been involved with some other past acts plus his other solo project, ANCESTRAL OATH. As for this release of the eight songs, along with the IMMORTAL cover, there's a re-recording of "Holodomor" from his 2014 EP and another re-recorded song "Benevolent Mother" from a 2015 split he did with the band BARSHASKETH. Musically the songs on here are straight up second wave black metal. Yes it's very cold and harsh sounding. That's always a win in my book especially from USBM.
As far as the subject matter being covered, Jackson has an obsession with man's callousness towards man. The song "Holodomor" in particular is a good example. Holodomor means "extermination by hunger" and the song is an ode to the man-made famine in the Ukraine during the 1930's which killed millions of Ukrainian people. I get the same feeling from "A Mockery of Flesh & Bone", Jackson is not delighting in the misery. Instead it's more of a historical outlook from an outsider with a conscience.
With Jackson's venomous screams and full throat-ed howls it all fits well especially when the music conveys such cold callousness tones as well. On "A Thirsty Delirium" it's almost like he's giving a middle finger to the human race. And frankly what's wrong with that. Minus the IMMORTAL cover and this would've been perfect.
UNGFELL - Totbringaere
Who would've guessed that those accordion lessons your parents made you take as a kid were actually something you could use in the future. This is the debut full length by Swiss black metal duo UNGFELL. The band is made up of Menetekel on vocals, all guitars and yeah the accordion. The drummer's name is Infermita. Menetekel is definitely the main man on here.
On Totbringaere, the duo mixes raw second wave style black metal with their regional folk music. Along with the accordion there's also some woodwinds used. The opener "Viures Brunst" is a three minute folk intro to get you in the mood. From that point on a blackened bombast ensues with tremolo picked runs, melody tossed in and tortured vocals that could peel paint.
There are two things that standout about this release. The first is that the songs, which do combine the elements of metal and folk, have a good structure. Menetekel uses the non amplified instruments (aka: the woodwinds, acoustic guitar, mouth harp and accordion) as important parts of the songs as opposed to simple accents. This is what blackened folk is supposed to sound like. Menetekel also adds some clean cries and spoken word passages which is all folk based. There's also a decent use of samples. By the way whatafuck was that animal sound on "Gottes Acker"? Hell I thought I was having a Rats in the Walls moment there for a second.
The second thing that stands out about this release, and it's a downside, is the poor drum sound. Can you say drums in a can? With that said Totbringaere is a fantastic release especially if you're into quality blackened folk metal.
Monday, February 13, 2017
DOPELORD - Children Of The Haze
Green Plague Records
First off I'll give these guys props for their song "Scum Priest". That's what I use to call myself whenever I donned my pope's hat (which can be viewed if you scroll down on this site and look to the right). Now with that said I know there are going to be people out their who will bash this Polish four piece for their obvious influence (as in the first three cuts on here) from first wave SABBATH worshipers SLEEP and ELECTRIC WIZARD. Fine but lets think about that for a second. ELECTRIC WIZARD hasn't done anything exciting in years and SLEEP, come on people haven't we've all fallen asleep to their past material enough.
So yeah this third full length by these Polish stoners is a down tuned bong head's dream. It's slow and heavy, like your hipster girlfriend, for the first couple of cuts. But then breaks from the pattern and goes completely psychedelic with the trip out interlude "Skulls and Candles". It's the type of break you need on an album like this. I'd also cite "Dead Inside (I&II)" which combines the pure syrupy grooves with psych out guitar soloing with the second part being all out hard fuckin rock. Real guy clean vocals throughout to boot.
Hey look I'm sure your first wave stoner rock sect will thumb their jaded noses at this but hey listen up. My head was thoroughly banged out by 1979 after having Master of Reality on continuous play for years. If I can appreciate this so should you.
WARSEID - A New Land To Find
Blackened Folk Metal from the US? Yeah as a fan of such music over the years I do not see a legacy involved here as opposed to European bands which do. Then again I've heard bands from the Mediterranean and the Andes Mountains area who are into this genre so there you go. At least it's not pirate themed metal from Canada. I gotta say that this Madison, Wisconsin three piece definitely nails it on their debut full length.
The band blends symphonic black metal (Shagrath-like vocals included) with folk metal. Basically harsh and grandiose tones, similar to DIMMU BORGIR mid-period works, are joined with the calmer atmospherics. The seven cuts on here all have a Nordic theme going for em. The symphonic elements are from synthesized orchestration but damm you wish it wasn't. One of the more cooler aspects is the clean guitar soloing lines that cut through ya like a Winter breeze. Then there's the clean vocal add ons, yeah someone has heard some VINTERSORG.
Obviously I'm dancing around the obvious fact that this is a superb release and dammit if it doesn't sound like it's from Norway, yeah Bergen. That's not a slight against them of course. Well the cover art does look like something from WINDIR. The bottom line is that good music is universal. I'm always coming across old school fucks (younger than me believe it or not) who opine about how they want their favorite blackened bands to return to their old ways. Well that ain't gonna happen there people. So while you're in the midst of your blackened bereavement maybe you should check out a new band that is doing exactly what you want. Nuff Said.
CONCATENATION – Mindeater
Ya know when I made the comment "New Wave of Old School Death Thrash" in a previous review last week I was joking. On the other hand this Polish band isn't. First off this thing opens with a Gary Oldman line from the movie The Professional. To me that's a good start since I'm a fan of his work. I'm also a huge VADER fan. Now once the music hits well we're talking bout some serious stuff here.
This is CONCATENATION's debut full length, they have two previous EPs to their credit. On here the band captures that genre duality so well. The first two cuts are thrashy yet within the band switches genre tones so easily. Once the third cut "Straight To The Bones" hits you the band's heavy death metal influence explodes on the listener. Also their vocalist lets loose with some hellishness screaming. Actually he lets loose the vocal chords on most of this with the high pitch screeches as well as a guttural roar like on the title cut.
Yes all of this is great, good riffs and song structure plus the vocals rule but where are the solos? I mean there's some mediocre attempts but that's it. Unfortunately that hurts a would be great release.
Thursday, February 9, 2017
IN DEFENSE OF NSBM
article by Mr. Wolf
What? Were you expecting swastikas? Sorry none of that rubbish here. Look honestly I'm not into fascism, socialism, nazism, communism and frankly any "isms". Hell I'm a fuckin libertarian dammit. I believe in freedom as in freedom to choose. And I choose to like many bands/artists who over the years have been labeled NSBM aka: National Socialist Black Metal. Now before I move on let me re-tell something which happened years ago.
This was around the time I first started Scumfeast Metal 666, circa 2009. I started getting promos to review from a guy in the Ukraine, almost all black metal and from his area of the world. After reviewing all of the releases sent in he emails me with the question "Do you have a problem reviewing NSBM?" I replied "No". And so my email box became flooded with NSBM releases new and old. Of course I only reviewed the new stuff. I kept about half of it, lost a bunch when my computer crashed (the first time that is). In fact at that time I had so much NSBM that a friend joked that I had the largest collection of NSBM on the East Coast of the US. Well not really and a lot of it isn't actually NSBM. It's mostly black metal from Eastern Europe, Russia and the Ukraine.
So from that point we go to a Facebook tale. I decided to post a song from a recently aquired release on Facebook one night. I can't remember who it was (probably AD HOMINEM) but after I posted the song I get a message from this metalhead girl I knew and it went something like this:
Girl: "You know that band you just posted is nsbm right?"
Me: "Yeah so?"
Girl: "I just wanted to make sure you knew"
Me: "I do know"
Girl: "OK, I didn't know you were into that sort of thing"
Me: "Into What?"
Girl: "the nazi stuff"
Me: "I don't even own a brown shirt. You remember I use to beat up nazis"
Girl: "I use to like GRAND BELIAL'S KEY before I found out they were nazis"
Me: "Cool I'll look em up"
Girl: "I think (name witheld) is into it. He posts a lot of racist stuff about Obama"
Me: (name witheld) is not a nazi. I've never seen him at the meetings"
Girl: "that's not funny"
Me: "neither is accusing people of being nazis just because they like a band's music"
It ended there although a year later she would unfriended me, not over musical choices but politics. Oh well, at least she turned me onto GRAND BELIAL'S KEY.
According to that great harbinger of fact, aka: Wikipedia, NSBM is as follows:
National Socialist black metal (NSBM), sometimes called Aryan black metal, is black metal music that promotes Nazism or similar ideologies. It typically melds neo-Nazi ideology with ethnic European paganism and opposition to "foreign" religions such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism. However, some artists are Satanists or occultists, rather than pagans. NSBM is not seen as a distinct genre, but as a neo-völkisch movement within black metal. According to Mattias Gardell, NSBM musicians see this ideology as "a logical extension of the political and spiritual dissidence inherent in black metal"
Although there is an undercurrent of ethnic nationalism in black metal, NSBM artists are a small minority within the genre. Many NSBM artists are not very explicit with their political beliefs in the music, instead expressing in their beliefs offstage. Artists who hold far-right or White nationalist beliefs but do not express these in their music are not often deemed 'NSBM' by the greater black metal scene, but may be labelled as such in the media.
taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Socialist_black_metal
By the way Mattias Gardell is a liberal/progressive (regressive in my opinion) Swedish scholar of comparative religion. He specializes in the study of religious extremism.
Anyway lets steer clear of whatever stereotypical ANTIFA or the Southern Poverty Law Center's opinions are regarding NSBM. Let's look at it from a fan's point of view aka: ME.
#1. I don't like using the NSBM tagline to label bands because it's wrong. We all know black metal as a genre has a wide range of bands/artists who have different types of sound or style. When I describe a band's sound I try to go to a better understandable terminology. NSBM is not a sound. I always laugh when I see BURZUM lumped in as a NSBM band. How does singing about Orcs and Tolkien themes equate to NSBM accusations? Sure Varg has his opinions but how much of that has carried into his music. In fact much of what is labeled as NSBM is because of what the artists have said and not what is in their music.
#2. Whenever I hear or read something to the effect of "hateful rhetoric has no place in metal", I just fuckin laugh. What type of drugs are you on? Here's a shocker for ya, most metal (aka: Extreme Metal) is hateful. You'd have to be a hypocrite or a special kind of stupid not to realize that fact. Wanna know another fun fact? Black and Death metal is really hateful plus you can add some Thrash to that as well. Oh you think "hateful rhetoric has no place in metal"? Well you better be throwing away all your SLAYER records.
This fucked up mentality that "this is OK to hate" but "this is not" needs to called what it is, hypocrisy. How can anyone say with a straight face that GORGOROTH is OK but GRAVELAND oh no that's bad. Seriously a bunch of ignorant protesters got a GRAVELAND show in Montreal last year (November 2016) shut down because they don't like them. Really? Ya think they would get a BEHEMOTH or WATAIN show shut down? I mean to me those bands push the hate. And just for the record GRAVELAND is more pagan/viking influenced these days.
#3. And speaking of Paganism, would you call ENSLAVED an NSBM band because of their early albums being ultra Nordic. I mean there are plenty of black metal bands influenced by Odinism and some get tagged as NSBM so how does one pick one over the other? Despite Hollywood's recent interpretations in their Marvel Thor movies, everyone in Asgard was white. Yep, the whole Nordic religion had white gods and goddesses. Ya know why right? Yeah because the people who came up with those tales were also white. I'm sure Africans had ancient pagan gods or deities who were black. You can't call one bad and the other good.
#4. What's wrong with being nationalist or having pride? Oh that's not cool because of what? Seriously if you hate nationalism then you better stay away from World Cup Soccer and the Olympics. I guess if you see your nation's flag being flown you turn away like Dracula seeing a cross. Look there's nothing wrong with being proud of who or what you are. Seriously if you think it's wrong for a person to look down their nose at someone from another country then I gotta ask have you ever been to France?
#5. Oh but Mr. Wolf, it's wrong to hate someone because of their religion or race. Look if you truly believe that then you probably need to listen to Pat Boone records because you don't own anything extreme. Yes you'll have to chuck almost all of your music collection because it will offend someone somewhere. Yes all of it.
Look I believe in the live and let live ethic. I'll respect your right to believe in what you want just as long as you respect my right to believe something else. If something I like offends you, tough. Don't listen to it. Trust me I find a lot of things offensive. I give my opinion and move on but I don't try to ban it.
Finally I just want to set the record straight. Like any genre or sub-genre of music there's good and bad. When it comes to bands tagged as NSBM there's a lot more bad than good and I'm talking musically. The thing is you should decide for yourself. So here are a few of my favorites.
VELES - Black Hateful Metal
No Colours Records
Not for the faint of heart even by black metal standards. This second album by VELES is a religious trip into raw blackened hate.
AD HOMINEM - Climax of Hatred
Blackened Thrash with industrial elements that would later influence many others in the French Black Metal scene, although they would never admit it. This release is dedicated to hatred of all mankind.
HATE FOREST - Purity
Yeah known as the NSBM band that Roman Saenko was in prior to starting DRUDKH. That's if you think love of nature and national ancestry is evil, it's not. Some have said that on Purity, Saenko was showing hints of black metal's future. No actually he was reminding us all of it's past greatness.
GRAVELAND - Thousand Swords
It's tough to pick a single great GRAVELAND release since the band started out as raw black metal but then switched to a more Pagan/Viking style. Yeah just like BATHORY and both eras of the band have some great releases. But when it comes down to it I think Thousand Swords is epic as well as raw. It ranks up there with some of the best in the genre.
SATANIC WARMASTER - Strength & Honour
Northern Heritage Records
Satanic Tyrant Werwolf is the one man behind the long running SATANIC WARMASTER. As they say when it comes to black metal the Norwegians brought the atmosphere, the Swedes brought the melody and the Fins brought the filth. Strength & Honour is pure filthy black metal.
In closing I just wanna say look it's 2017 and it's about time we lose the NSBM tagline. Let's just call it what it is, Black Metal.