Monday, September 7, 2009

Black Metal: A love hate relationship

Black metal is, by and large, totally ridiculous. For those not in the know, Black Metal is a form of metal that emerged in the late 80's, early 90's following the extreme path that thrash had taken. Proto-black metal like early Sodom, Venom (in the theatrics) and the like, inspired seemingly hundreds of ugly, badly dressed European kids (mainly Norwegian) to wear a lot of face paint and produce terrible, terrible records. Bands like Mayhem, Burzum, Emperor laid some serious foundations. They then went on to kill each other and go to jail for crimes of extreme violence. One guy killed a gay guy. These people were not nice. They were, mainly, ignorant right wing kids who had sympathies in paganistic romanticism and some serious pride for their white skin. However, amongst the clutter of murky, badly produced albums, are some real gems. This is one of them:

Other than a stupid name, i cannot say enough good things about this song. In the Nightside Eclipse, the album from which this song comes from, is probably the best black metal album ever recorded. Listen to it. Really listen to it. Can you hear how many layers there are? It's incredible. It's more like an experimental noise album. One thing metal fans are guilty of, especially in Black metal, is branding a song as 'atmospheric'. Usually it's total bullshit. In this case it totally true. When i listen to this album, i can literally feel the snow of Norway falling on my head as the fir trees sway. Impressive.

Unfortunately, as with all metal, for one good thing, there are countless bad ones. The next clip comes from Immortal. I like this band, but this early song is truly awful. And the video clip is possibly the funniest thing i have ever seen. If they are being ironic, that's awesome. If they aren't, that's even better:

Where the hell did they get that wizards costume? And wouldn't it have been better to wait for the forest to be covered in snow to create the death like atmosphere? Rather than running through a forest, in corpse paint, that is literally bursting with spring life?

My main problem is the fact black metal has to be very under produced to be credible. Take this burzum song:

Metal elitists love burzum. Don't know why. To me he's (a one man band) a sad right winger who went to jail for murder and writes pseudo philosophy in regards to his pagan ancestors and his rights as a white man. It's elitist, flawed philosophically, and racism disguised as paganisitc pride. As well as that, his records sound like distorted noise. To the black metal elitist, this is a sign of its true character.

That is the world of black metal. Mainly bad, often objectionable, and always hilarious. Half the fun is finding those two or three brilliant records.

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