Jan 26, 2008

BURLY, WOODY, JAMES, AND SOMETIMES CANADIAN - Aquarius drops another Black Metal bundle at my door

I've been runnin thru some kinda Euler circuit lately, taking deserved breaks between selling folks lottery tickets/Dorals (well, Parliaments and Newports, mostly) and drawing mythologies about omnipotent beings who always make large-scale mistakes so's I can check the pee-oh box for new jams. It was a long road getting to this order, since releases were appearing and vanishing like they do. But Aquarius is good to me. They're starting to understand that I will take my order in dribbles so long as I get some-bleedin-thang.
Well, the circuit is broken. I got my order. 2 of 'em ain't black metal related in the slightest and one's another Drommer cd-r, which is only tangentially black metal-related (as redundant as that sounds). Today, we're sticking to the guys in black. Rest'vem got too many colors.

VARGHKOGHARGASMAL - Call of the Raven demo tape, German, Funeral Agency re-release, 2006
Literally every part of this release represents why I love the black metal. We'll start with the cover and work inward, cuz that strikes me as the most kvlty approach. The cover is a take on the creepy forest iconography I was getting super-tired of, but considering this is also labelled as "Wooden Metal!" on the little part of the J-card, not only does it make sense in an obvious and thematic way (which is very metal), it also looks like a blockprint of a rotting 2x4. Lo and Beherit, inside it reads, "This demo tape was recorded for nature and in total hate to the human race which is destroying it!!!" Which human race? Oh, THAT one. It also informs me this is the...2nd edition? The 2nd edition of a demo tape? Clinging like a shirtless Stallone to the format, guys. That's commitment. What makes this the 2nd edition is that it includes 2 songs from their official 7" ep. A quick look-up on the humming and glowing box on my dresser tells me the 7" is 2 songs. So, really, the 2nd edition of the demo tape is the discography.
By now I'm totally immersed and I haven't even heard a note. Basically, black metal is like the outsider art of the totally uninteresting and rollicking towards a nudge-nudge joke or a symbolic economy that is contemporary art--I mean, contemporary metal. Contemporary metal is about speed and theatrics. Black metal, you mightcould say, is about sound as soul and theater. Same way you had to dash your prior thinkin 'bout jazz structures the 1st time you heard Ayler or Schlippenbach or any of those guys and remember what you were actually listening to was new forms of "soul" music, great black metal is like some unholy, messy palette-cleaner.

So now the tape is in the deck and the reels are rolling. Varghkoghargasmal sounds like a two-piece but I guess it's a solo affair by a cat named Avenger. He don't use no distortion--no buzz! no hiss!--and there ain't no vocals. But there are some occasional field recordings. (Wind is the new bass.) So, without two of the major touchstones of the black metal thang removed, what am I left with? Basically, a strange little mystery. Varghkoghargasmal could be any of those mysterious bands on Songs from the Lowland or Big Southern Hits or any of the Kiwi DIY comps. Raith Rovers! It's an angry, long-form Raith Rovers! Or maybe Jane Dancing...without the dancing. At times, this is downright pretty, even when the drums are wandering off down an alley or squeezing and bulging like a stress ball. I would say somebody oughta tell Avenger he can stop recording by hitting "pause," but then I'd be left without all the cue marks. There should be more cue marks in music. There should be more Varghkoghargasmal in my life. Except now I have everything. Stupid second editions, ruining everything.

GEHEIMNIS - Das Negras Montanhas demo tape, Brazilian, Gungnir Productions, 2005
See, but then there's Brazil. I don't know what it is about Brazilian black metal, but once they stop working from Sarcofago and Vulcano LPs and start trying to be Norwegian, I'm lost and hurrying away. This is really short (so many of these tapes are secretly one-sided) and not terribly exciting. And it ends with the kind of mopey guitar ballad that could bookend a One AM Radio ep but somehow ends up on most of these releases. (
Varghkoghargasmal is an exception! And Korium!)
Not changing my world, not even changing my socks.

JABLADAV - Black as Pitch demo tape, North Carolina, self-released, 2007
Another could-be-two-piece, but again, James is all by his lonesome, doing duty on guitars, vocals, and drumbs. Jabladav is much in line with Weakling, as far as the riff-as-drone theory and the smart-mark approach. Weakling came from smart-mark metalheads Fucking Champs. Thankfully, this never gets smarmy-clever. This sounds less record-clerk than Weakling ever did. Songs are shorter, too. And when he does a quieter track, it still sounds like it was produced by Mike Dixon or Fenriz. James gets all busted-concrete tunnel on the vocals. This is amazingly heavy and creepy for a guy counting talk radio and The Simpsons among his influences. Dial this up.

AUFKREMA - Rehearsals 2002-2003 tape, Quebec, Tour de Garde, 2003
Another thing I love about black metal is being put in positions where judgment becomes irrelevant. Sometimes it's through an intensely personal, almost internal approach. Sometimes it's by being so obtuse, I find I'm trying to develop stage plays to act out what I'm hearing so it makes more sense. Sometimes it's by exposing parts of the creative process most of us aren't used to or necessarily have any interest in peepin in at. How am I supposed to judge improvised rehearsals from 5 years ago, especially from two dudes who haven't released anything else?
Well, I guess I'll start with details. The booklet has a long explanation about there needing to be more spontaneity in metal and I was going to do go on a similarly lengthy rant about how that's an excuse to feel creatively justified in releasing what most people would consider unfinished music, since you're still calling them "rehearsals," but then I realized that's a weak argument. Basically philosophy is a supermarket full of differently colored and scented bullshit that people peruse and decide which needs to come home with them. Something we don't know may or may not be doing something that may or may not be affecting another thing--that's what our knowledge amounts to. In black metal, there are no bands; there are only movements. If Aufkrema consider themselves a movement toward a looser, improv-friendly French Canadian black metal scene, who am I to argue how legitimate that is? If you decide you aren't going to affect the rest of the world for most of your life, which is more personally rewarding: making music in your basement with people you love and trust or sitting in a brick building thinking about fish?
Do I like this? I'm not sure it matters. For the count, the parts themselves are kind of generic with some okay riffs and jars of absurdly fast percussion. Going from one part to another isn't causing me to levitate out of my seat, so as a movement it doesn't really hit me. Who knows. A Quebecois (or Quebecoise!) kid might hear this and fill his briefs.
I say, let the movements flow.

Jan 11, 2008

LOPING, NOT LARPING! The Stirring Conclusion of the 1st BM Cassette Order

DESASTER - Hellfire's Dominion, Night Birds
Gongs get that slurred cooking pot tone
1/2 speed Art of Noise?
woah, 70s Italo horror w/budget of DOLLARI ZERO
oh, and then it begins
not so psyched about the vocals, but they seem to fit the 80s-ness of the whole affair
Judas Priest Blizzard Beast From the East Norwegian Tour t-shirts would be something else
they do dated well, but let's be honest about what that statement is actually saying

oh fuck, here's that other AEP thing
the first one was all kindsa boring
[here is a drawing of a hunched figure with rectangular eyes, standing next to a road sign that says "STOOP" instead of "STOP"]
I don't even care what Abstrakt Torment sounds like
my sleeping for the day is thruuuuuuuuuu
ltd 317 copies
I'm sure there's some smoky significance to that number

YPERITE/CHAROGNE split, Infernal Kommando
French, again, so you know it'll be good
also includes both bands' first demos
cover is really dumb, I'm not gonna fool you
Sutek Conspiracy?!?!
Hirax fed through a toaster, or UT as a hardcore band
some Italian goth-wave influence that I can't quite get words/references around
suddenly that Furze record has context! what is happening in France?
samples of bad porn, air raid sirens, bombs dropped
drum mach
warbly prod, sort of slipping in and out of physical time
really dug this side
opens with an opera bootleg circa 1892--scalped that shit from Edison
I'd know what it's from if I knew those kind of things, but c'est la vie: I don't wear sandals with socks
I really dig all these blown-mind intros; kind of wish they got worked into the compositions of the rest of the records more--kinda like Korium did! Shit, gotta stop thinkin about Korium for a min or I'll stop listening to this...
production makes all the aggression pocket-sized
drums sound like irregular hummingbirds, seriously--barely audible, totally brilliant!
ever heard Vomited Broth? Progeria? or any of that mumbly pterodactyl grind? there you go
wow, i turned on that right-quick
why couldna this been one-sided?
fuck a Charogne

DEMONCY - Joined In Darkness, Ravenheart Records (Czech label)
ltd 500
ATL, my former home, prod'd these musty chaps
leathery bat wing logo
you know those late-night college radio extreme metal shows and all the shit where you wonder who cares or who listens or who puts so much effort into something that is such a non-event?
Demoncy are all of those bands
loping, unfocused, not really anything in any anyness
sorry guys, for a BM band from the south you coulda been mad evil-er--like
Sapthuran or Hills of Sefiroth
get out of the city and into the hills like the above
the mean streets of East Lake ain't teachin you squat

EXCESSUM - Death Redemption, Tour de Garde
has that jumpiness of classic triumphant Swedish metaal--
mid-tempo parts are almost groovy
droopy-eyed melodies
the singer is speaking to his army in a burned out basement--dry, muffled, chalky
they know how to take a sound that has become sort of anonymous + make it theirs through odd sound techniques--the vox, for instance, totally rescue this for me
and the drums are snappy and poppy like burning sap
this is a grow-er

BESTIAL MOCKERY - Sepulchral Wrath, Unholy Horde Records
Swee-dish, again
2006 demo, ltd 666 and so on
this is really short
tapes are pro-printed, though, including the phrase "UNHOLY -- UNPURE -- UNTIGHT"
was a guy in my old neighborhood with something like the cover painted on the side of his tinted-window'd Dodge van with the teardrop bubble window and all
of course, i mean
south-cali hardcore guitar-work
exhibition metal--not to be confused with the actual deal
(cooperative, as opposed to full-contact??)
can't win wars with yaw-ning
can't win wars with yaw-ning
c'mon, this mess of tapes needs another gem

Nazroth: you-ess-ey!
Putride: toques and back-bacon!
wow, this is the most boring one yet
i can't even write about it
i will never think about this again

One to go. Can this lot be saved?

SATANIC WARMASTER - Carelian Satanist Madness, Tour de Garde
Finnish solo
originally unleashed on No Colours
fuzzy elves swing cudgels to this like erryday
really goofy, so I'm assuming this is NSBM
cover is such a flea market t-shirt from Singapore, it's kind of incredible
if Hello Kitty were clinging to his gauntlets I'd say it actually was
he reaches deep down inside and finds bloody muppets
not the salvation I was looking for
still, it was funny

So it goes. This was obviously a gamble, but not without rewards. And I guess I'm addicted, cuz I placed another order with AQ for some more bm reels from the likes of Aufkrema (improvised black metal!), Geheimnis, Jabladav, and Varghkoghargasmal. I wait with baited breath and gnashing maw.

Jan 10, 2008

"OH, AND"-ING IT UP - The Rest of My Two Cents

Album of the Year:
Graham Lambkin - Salmon Run

Somehow I forgot to mention that in my thing about the thing. So, there it is.

Also, this is quite possibly the best record to put on in the other room while you lie in a near-scalding bath. A crucial thing in my hermitage.

The balance of black metal tapes is on the way. Stay frosty.