Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Black Metal Revolution 2010 - The Year that was...

My goal for Black Metal Revolution in 2010 was indeed greater than the manifest reality, but whether that means the year was unsuccessful is an entirely different debate. Intending to print this year, I'm not sure at what stage I realised this was not probable, though instead of lamenting what wasn't, 2010 remained a positive one with a collection of over 90 strong submissions that will appear between the book's covers.

Having posted a series of previews which you can see here, it would be erroneous to suggest these are the highlights of the collection, but what they do appear as are pieces that work well in isolation of their contemporaries. And while online seems a wholly suitable platform for some of the longer submissions, I think there's a degree of excitement to be found in the prospect of a listener taking the time to pull the record in question off the shelf and play it in concert with the pages or even chapters that are slowly materialising on some of BM's most revered artists and their records. And some of the more epic submissions demand this; a truth I can attest.

In one sense, the delays have provided for opportunities to include releases that even three months ago would not have been possible. Order From Chaos' 'Dawn Bringer' being one such recording, having never before been realised on the vinyl format, and recently announced as part of an NWN box set discography slated for 2011. If you were unaware, the book is only accepting submissions on recordings that have materialised on vinyl. If you were unaware of the importance for me in having submissions on OFC, consider yourself enlightened.

The demise of 2010 finds me still chasing a host of bands I seemed to have been chasing this time last year, though I deem all these acts well worthy of inclusion and acknowledge that what I am pursuing is conceptually simple, sometimes finding the right words to articulate that which you hold above all else is another matter entirely. This is not exactly teaching me patience, but it does no harm...

I have posted lists here and there covering all the artists who have submitted pieces thus far, so I won't revisit that at this time , but what I will say is that the year saw offerings come from a host of hordes truly important to me. Among those, Proscriptor from Absu, Master from Bestial Mockery, Impurath from Black Witchery, RR of Blasphemophagher fame, Denial Of God's Ustu, Azgorgh, the menace behind Drowning The Light, Tormentor from Gorgoroth, Meads Of Asphodel's Metatron, and submissions from the expected voices behind entities such as Toxic Holocaust, Rites Of Thy Degringolade, Profanatica, Satanic Warmaster, Sperm Of Antichrist, Raspberry Bulbs, Negative Plane, Morbosidad, Midnight and many more...

Having read through the close to 100 submissions I have acquired, it is clear that the goal of 333 needs to be met in order to adequately cover the quintessential BM records I deem necessary for inclusion. In no way are people coerced into writing or not writing about specific offerings though considering the myriad of master-works that have materialised since Venom's '82 monument, it's desirable to see as many of these recordings discussed in this light.

At a glance, the following are yet to find an author putting them under the microscope - so to speak. I for one am hoping to see at least some of these adopted...

IMMORTAL Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism
DARKTHRONE Transilvanian Hunger
BURZUM Burzum, Det Som Engang Var
GEHENNA Descending, First Spell
MASTER'S HAMMER Jilmenice Occultist
HAVOHEJ Dethrone The Son Of God
DISSECTION The Somberlain
MARDUK Dark Endless
MORBID December Moon
MERCILESS The Awakening
MAYHEM Grand Declaration Of War
PROFANATICA Split W/ Masacre
KAT Metal and Hell
BEHERIT Oath, Drawing Down The Moon
CELTIC FROST Emperor's Return
EMPEROR In The Nightside Eclipse
ENSLAVED Vikingligr Veldis
SATYRICON The Shadowthrone
SIGH Scorn Defeat
TORGEIST Time Of Sabbath, Devoted To Satan

This list should not suggest that in order for an record to be revered that it must be drawing on 20 years old either. I see more of this on the horizon...

Onwards into 2011 we go with a goal of at least reaching the 200th submission...

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Curator of Black Metal Revolution - Top 10, 2010 and then some...

Jason Healey - Top 10 or so 2010

I was asked to compose a Top 10 albums for 2010 by Metal Maniacs, and when I got down to it, it appeared that album wise, the closure of the second millennium's first decade was not what you'd call "full-length friendly" where I am concerned. As a result, this list is not albums and it's not really a top ten. I simply wrote what I felt like...

1. DODSENGEL Ecstatic Horror 7" (Barghest)
Something old, something new; not entirely sure what it is but this band delivers a vision they can call their own. Ritualistic elements intertwined in characteristic BM stylings. Sound is a desirable hybrid of raw, dissonant Black Metal and straight ahead, catchy song craft. Definitely have their full lengths on my list of quests now...

2. DESTROYER 666 See You In Hell 7" (Invictus Productions)
Though I prefer the 'Wolves' era above all, there is a strength and maturity to the song craft exposed on this EP that captures the band's vitality and diversity. It would be retarded for D666 to be banging out the same primal violence witnessed on their earliest manifestations, and while I would never suggest they are a different band today, there is undoubtedly a sleeker, more polished, musical if you will, density to their contemporary productions. 'Defiance' had its charm, but this EP was where it was at for me.

3. DEIPHAGO Filipino Antichrist LP (Hells Headbangers)
One of the more extreme records I've been exposed to in some time, the savage conviction radiates from start to finish; the trio's reverence for their own legacy always apparent. You can tell that early Deicide impressed itself heavily on this band, but also that the trio emerged in a time where the divergence between black and death metal was less obvious.

 4. UNHOLY CRUCIFIX Morbid Edifice 7" (SeedStock)
7" reissue of a 2005 demo release, I think there is enough conviction present on these abyssic tracks to steer one's thinking away from this being little more than another homage to the Beherit, Archgoat, VON aura, though no doubt, if those bands push your buttons, Unholy Crucifix have conjured a cocktail that should engage on that level.

5. SPERM OF ANTICHRIST Blight And Darkness Demo (Hells Headbangers)
Clear that Beherit is a key influence on this duo, in the same manner it was on Demoncy. The aura of this demo is what's special about it, and despite the debate over the recording levels on the first pressing of this tape, that it had to be turned up so loud and that there was such an ensuring wash of tape hiss only served to make this recording even more obscure and malignant.

6. ARCHGOAT Aeon Of Angelslaying Darkness DLP (Debemur Morti Productions)
Discography releases leave little to the imagination, and in this case it was about doing true justice to a deserving band. Double LP housed in a hard bound gatefold sleeve with 20 page booklet and exclusive Moyen art. Despite being name checked along side numerous other bestial troupes, I'm enamoured with the fact that Archgoat's sound remains rooted in the proto-second wave style, still possessing a heavy Death Metal aura, and differentiated further by that grind-styled approach to composition. Arguably, this is some of Archgoat's strongest material, but my view is that this release is a grand addition to a worthy archive of recordings.

7. PROFANATICA Years Of Pestilence 7" (Desecration Of God Productions)
One can on occasion be left thinking that the idea of Profanatica is better than the reality; this EP proves otherwise. The idea of Profanatica in rehearsal mode always appeals to me. They came from a time when rehearsal tapes still had some relevance, where mystery and obscurity reigned and this is a suitable document to that time and the band's most powerful essence.

8. BLACK WITCHERY Desecration Of The Holy Kingdom LP (Nuclear War Now!)
A reissue it's true, Black Witchery are a band I only became fixated with in recent years. Familiar with their Witchery demo, I don't recall being overly enamored with that recording and like many bands it is possible to wander around their releases without falling under their respective spells. I'm pleased to say that BW did make it to my wheel of steel and I now cite as one of my most revered contemporary bands. This is the kind of record that can do such a thing...

9. THE ROYAL ARCH BLASPHEME Self Titled LP (Hells Headbangers)
It's almost a Profanatica release I guess and while the songs are great, I wish they had used a real drummer. Would have really ticked all the boxes for me. Great aesthetic, sound and arrangements. I never give myself wholly to bands with drum machines... it just doesn't suit my vision of what BM should be. Having appeared in my top 10 will give readers poise to truly ponder what sort of year it's been for me.

10. WATAIN Lawless Darkness DLP (Norma Evangelium Diaboli)
This release is falling into the "probably should like it but don't care enough about what I've heard to continue with it" category. Beyond the initial hysteria, no one has crossed my path prosletysing about its continued virtue. The trad metal elements that found their way on to this offering left me thinking, "was that the best they can do?" Not suggesting the performance was below par, but that the vision was. The art on the other hand is something magnificent!

Other Releases of note...

ABIGAIL/MIDNIGHT Farewell To Metalslut 7" (Outlaw Recordings)
I've been less than excited by Abigail's output for some time now, with perhaps the exception of the bonus 7" that came with the 'Sweet Baby...' LP. Midnight on the other hand seem to continually kick my ass. For some bizarre reason, I love to see bands with Venom running through their veins doing it as well or better than Cronos and co did between '80 and '83. Their choice of cover 'Slick Black Cadillac' by Quiet Riot may seem a strange one, but Midnight manage to pare it down to something primal, yet raunchy and enough of their own. What can I say? I'm gonna wear the Midnight side out fast!

ABIGAIL/MANZER Pictavian Samurais 7" (Hells Headbangers)
Abigail's tunes struck me as a tad more BM than what the pair had unleashed in some time, but the selection of 'Intercourse and Lust' photos was puzzling at best. Manzer's side maintained the approach found on their excellent demo.

MANZER Pictavian Bastards Demo (InCoffin Productions)
"Fronted" by drummer/vocalist Shaxul, the band lay claim to influences such as Venom, Sabbat and Atomizer, and reproduce the essence effectively! Five tracks, closing with Venom's 'Acid Queen', it's well executed 80's styled BM with anthemic choruses and great sound. Hope for something a little rawer next time, but definitely far from disappointed!

DROWNING THE LIGHT Rise Of The Black Serpent Demo (Adverse Order Music)
Best described as Orthodox BM in the classic Darkthrone style. Nothing outstanding, but the conviction possessd attaches the desired levels of engagement.

BONE AWL Sunless Xyggos Demo (Klaxon Records)
Though a reissue of a 2006 recording, this is my first exposure to these cuts. Instrumental versions comprise this release, but it's classic Bone Awl from start to finish, and assuming their hypnotic punk-BM hooks are as appealing to others as they are to me, this is one to possess.

GRAVE UPHEAVAL Demo (Abysmal Sounds)
Most easily surmised, though not necessarily doing this recording absolute justice, Grave Upheaval  arrive as a hybrid of doom-laden Incantation mixed with fellow Brisbane-ites Portal in brooding, abyssic waves of blackened death metal. I found the burn rate to be faster than desired, but I'm confident that a second wave of listens is imminent...

DODSENGEL Alongside Choronzon 10" (Barghest)
An expanded impression of the Ecstatic Horror 7" described above, this is definitely the most exciting band that has manifested for me in 2010. Increased experimentation/ritual an inspired feature of this recording.

KERASPHORUS Cloven Hooves at the Holocaust Dawn 10" (Nuclear War Now!)
Long been a big fan of everything Pete Helmkamp has put his name to, and despite the immense reverie this record received, I found it likeable, but easy to shelve. Still, have inspired hopes for the forthcoming 7"

Releases I expect would have made the grade had I managed to acquire them...

WEAPON From The Devil's Tomb (AJNA)
NEGATIVE PLANE Stained Glass Revelations (AJNA)
DEATHSPELL OMEGA Paracletus (Norma Evangelium Diaboli)
BONE AWL Bowing Heads (Iron Tyrant)