Tape Wyrm XXII: New Black Metal Tape Wyrm XXII: New Black Metal

This title will never be “The New Black.”

At one point I relegated my black metal experiences to the dead of winter. I can still remember days when my roommate and I would both have off of work due to the treacherous winter conditions. As mandated by some strange agreement, we would drink an obscene amount of energy drinks and play Norwegian black metal all morning. It is important to highlight this ritual never lasted past noon as the combination of Redbull, coffee, and 7-11 breakfast sandwiches was enough to incapacitate a medium sized animal. By 11:30 am, our ritual had ended with nervous fatigue and aching stomachs. At 8:30am however, when the snow would white out our world, we felt a sense of godliness which could rival any historical leader or king. We became the wintery frost which now made mounds on our windowsills. With the pagan ghosts of ancient history, not even the gravity of the heavenly bodies could deter us from our path. Not the arrows of a thousand armies nor the space that divides days and night. We could smite civilizations with hot bestial breathe. This was of course, until 11:30 am.

I apologize for my black metal story as it does not involve any sort of wanton mayhem past digestive destruction. My beginnings into black metal were marked by energetic curiosity and unchained abandon into the darkest music I had currently experienced. Of course, things are different now. The idea of black metal has grown past the stereotypes of winter and pagan mythology into something more complex and rich. While the Norwegian second wave is one of the most popular periods of black metal, it is by no means the beginning nor the end. Black metal was progressing before and even to this day refuses to be irrelevant.

Just by throwing a stone backwards with eyes closed, one could hit ten new black metal records. It is the largest genre practiced by artists and it is one of the most consistent styles. Some of this can be explained by the embrace of low fidelity however current productions say otherwise. Spring of 2012 has already seen some dazzling black metal records. Much like my previous doom article, this edition of Tape Wyrm attempts to show the diversity and range of black metal practiced today. There is no thematic or stylistic thread which holds theses records together. Besides loose connection under the banner of black metal, the product of each is vastly different in comparison. This is perhaps why it is constantly interesting.

From the fiery beginnings in Europe to the calm and collected manifestations of the Pacific Northwest, black metal is still discussed, praised, and criticized by a span of listeners. These are 11 new records which I have found to be interesting. For every one record listed, there are 11 more not discussed — perhaps with equal or greater merit. I would love for people to leave suggestions that would broadened the scope of new black metal to a number beyond 11. For now I leave you with videos and a feeling of not being hindered by energy drinks. While my sense of omnipotence has faded, my enthusiasm for this genre has never waivered.

Wilds Forlorn – We the Damned

I could discuss the wonders of Bandcamp for an entire article. Without this service, my experience with independent and lesser known artists would not be as half as dense as it is. Wilds Forlorn is a Dutch atmospheric black metal one-man-act who has made it apparent his music will be disseminated for free. Whether bandcamp or illegal torrenting sites, We, the Dammed is making its way through digital trade. This is wonderful as the record is absolutely stunning. Wilds Forlorn enters into the recently crowded style of atmospheric black metal. The use of piano, strings, and elongated passages has been heard before in other records. In fact, We, the Damned attempts to win over audiences already familar with Wolves in the Throne Room, Altar of Plagues, and Agalloch. It is a miracle the album presents its own voice but it is a mystery how emotionally engaging We, the Damned becomes. Dynamic, rich, and infinitely dense, Wilds Forlorn has baffled as much as impressed leading to a stellar record of unmatched merit. It is mid Spring and I have found a secure addition for the best of 2012.

Wilds Forlorn – We, The Damned [Free Download]

Wodensthrone – Curse

British act Wodensthrone has a strong hurdle to clear. In 2009, the band released Loss which was a fantastic exploration on ancient landscapes and deep nature based spirituality. In fact, the band was becoming an interesting addition to the growing number of pagan black metal acts dominating Europe. Curse is the first album on Candlelight and attempts to continue the momentum begun with their debut. Unsurprisingly, it succeeds on all levels. Within long passages seen in their previous release, Wodensthrone adds instead of subtracts. Dense foliage surrounds the melodies leading to complex structures. Though the band flows along calculated networks, their work never becomes self indulgent or needless. Though the evolution of black metal has been increasingly interesting, Wodensthrone plays a very classic style of relentless soul stripping brutality. Curse is a strong and fierce black metal deserving anyone’s time and attention.

Naglfar – Téras

When entering into Naglfar, the listener becomes aware of certain truths. First of all, there will undoubtedly be fast black metal with harmonic guitar leads combined with a croaked rasp. Secondly, the album covers will most likely have a giant unreadable logo in the left hand corner combined with some hazy image or evil. Wait, let me check. Nope that is all of them. Naglfar’s history is divided into two periods. In the mid 1990’s the band was a healthy addition to the growing presence of Swedish black metal. History can, however, be cruel. Naglfar, along with their homeland was eventually overshadowed by the violence and mayhem of Norwegian black metal. Despite this ignorance, Naglfar, along with a handful of Swedish black metal artists experienced a longevity which reaches to the present. The band is currently experiencing the popularity they more than rightly deserve. Despite the very accessible melodic atmosphere Naglfar has always maintained, a sense of intensity continually adds to their legacy. Their album covers are also fun to line up back to back.

Dark Forest – Land of the Evening Star

From the distant lands of… well Canada… comes Dark Forest. Not to be confused with Dark Funeral, Dark Fortress, or Hate Forest, Dark Forest comes with the description of epic black metal. Whether or not epic black metal is even a valid style is another discussion entirely, yet the music of Dark Forest possesses qualities which are grander than most. Dark Forest’s lyrics do not concern themselves with destruction or cosmic evil, rather small bits of American and European history. Despite the seemingly banal direction, Land of the Evening Star grows in its scope to encompass existential tales which lead to vast and profound conclusions. Combine this with subtle atmosphere and harsh yet powerful vocals and one can see where the term may be fitting.

Aura Noir – Out To Die

Earlier in this article, I made mentions to the dominance of the Norwegian style in the arena of black metal. This small yet historic period has come to dominate discussions of the style. It is always refreshing to experience Norwegian black metal which does not follow in the same direction forged by Mayhem, Darkthrone, and Burzum. Greetings Aura Noir. Began in 1993, Aura Noir embraces as much thrash as the speed of first wave black metal. The band’s lyrics insistingly focus on aggression and blasphemy leading to members aptly named Blasphemer and Aggressor. Aura Noir’s quality and legacy in Norway has gone somewhat unnoticed yet their roots within Norwegian black metal are deeply set. Bassist Ole Jørgen Moe additionally moonlights in the now famous Immortal after their reformation in 2006. Carl-Michael Eide (Aggressor) played on early releases from Satyricon, Ulver, and Inferno. Rune Eriksen (Blasphemer) was one of the thousand guitarists who played in Mayhem. At times, Aura Noir feels like a side project yet the band’s newest release Out To Die is goddamn fantastic. Channeling the visceral spirit of Moterhead and combining it with the innate evil of Venom, Aura Noir feels like a redefinition of Norwegian black rather than a supergroup. Do not stand to close to the flames.

Black Messiah – The Final Journey

Alright, you may want to move on to the next recommendation because this one is a bit silly. I love when the pagan black metal cocoon eventually transforms into the Viking butterfly. Sure there are serious Viking acts such as Bathory and Windir but then there are others. It is not that groups like Tyr or Ensiferum are not wonderful, it is just their style of viking lore holds a different enjoyment — one that is similar to a paperback fantasy novel with a hilarious cover. This same sentiment goes for Black Messiah. They already have the cover. Viking black metal is amazing as symphonic, atmospheric, and folk elements are backed by an inhuman rasp which adds to its own fantastic design. The Final Journey has everything one could ask for — drama, melody, and more sagas that you can pile onto a longboat. Despite the silly name and cover, Black Messiah possesses some of the most fun and technically daring music of recent memory. The violin cover of Candlemass’ “Into the Unfathomed Tower” elicits cries of joy and giggles. This combined with the 4 part 22 minute closer is enough to give a hearty swig of mead from an oaken flagon. Listen, I told you to move on but if you are still here then we have some mead to share.

Stonehaven – Concerning Old-Strife And Man-Banes

The fact the majority of these recommendations are European was not intentional. I have always been a proponent of new black metal, especially from the United States. America has had a rich history of underrated black metal which eventually blossomed into one of the most interesting and publicized developments the style has seen in decades. Stonehaven is from Kansas and while the state is not instantly recognizable as other black metal centers (New York, Chicago, Cascadia), Stonehaven still makes a decent argument for the Sunflower State. Perhaps we will amend that title. Stonehaven is very much dedicated to the aesthetics of the second wave with its black and white album cover, shrill lo – fi atmosphere, and lyrics revolving around ancient folklore. The band even dons corpse paint and shrouds themselves in animal hides. All of this would be cheesy if the music were not so damn enjoyable. The minimalist structure and stone bare production works 100 times in this bands favor. The Sunflower State has created something evil and ultimately destructive.

Marduk – Serpent Sermon

Do you remember when I was discussing Sweden? Well then here is another band to write in your notes. At this moment, somewhere in the world, two people are fighting over who is the better Marduk vocalist. Marduk came to prominence under Legion who shrieked for the band until 2004. At that point, Funeral Mist creator Mortuus joined and continued Marduk’s destruction through the end of the decade. Personally, I enjoy both with no real black metal chicken to throw into the fight. Mortuus’ reign with Marduk, however, has intensified the music leading to a slightly more varied and dynamic vocal range. Serpent Sermon follows the 2009 release Wormwood in its continual dedication to desecrate the fabric of Christianity. Expect nothing less from Marduk. If I were going to expect something from Marduk however, it would be a better album title. Seriously, who lost a bet and had to name their record “Serpent Sermon?”

Nachtvorst – Silence

If I could, I would recommend anyone to go back to the year 2009 and listen to Stills by Dutch act Nachtvorst. You know what?. This is my article so I will do that. Go ahead, as always I’ll be waiting for you to get back. Nachtvorst’s 2012 release comes on heavy baited breath as the caliber displayed in Still was phenomenal. Rather than rest on the few laurels attained by previous records, Nachtvorst promises more progression, namely into the areas of drone, sludge, and doom. Previous fans of Still are not strangers to experimental doom as “Murmur” displayed heavy chugging riffs and dense repetition. But this is something else entirely. Silence seems to be embarking on a journey — one that will cover much ground in a short period of time. Nachtvorst seems to be using these various genres not as a celebration rather a tool for eventual darkness. There seems to be little joy in these musical explorations apart from sinister If there was any light left in the world after all of these records, Nachtvorst intends to snuff the remaining embers. Goodnight everything.

Agruss – Morok

Jesus. fucking. God. Agruss is a relativity new black/death act from the Ukraine. From the small bits of biography, Agruss was a band founded in the shadow of nuclear reactors abandoned after the fall of Soviet power. Agruss appears to be slightly environmental in their themes yet that could eventually transform to worldwide destruction. Fuck this place, everyone goes down with us. Agruss distills their hatred into a chaotic frenzy which is terrifying when put on record. No seriously, I never want to see this band live as I feel they would go directly for my throat if given the chance. There is no time for reflection or recollection on Morok because the band never breathes between shrieks. It is amazing.

1833 AD – My Dark Symphony

I discussed 1883 in a previous Tape Wyrm dedicated to Indian heavy metal. In the middle of the article I made mention of a group of Indian musicians obsessed with Norwegian black metal. At the time, 1833 AD only had one tour demo to their name. It was amazing but short. This small seed has blossomed into the first bloomed offering from the madmen of New Dehli. During their initial stages, I was more fascinated with 1833 AD than genuinely impressed. My Dark Symphony has changed this as the band found their own voice under the hot suns of India. 1833 AD is the outlier in this article as the center and focus is western. Things are changing as the future of Asian based heavy metal is becoming more of a reality. For some reason, I feel this live video of 1833 AD covering Burzum to the wash of disco lights is surprisingly fitting.

Well you have made it again to the bottom of the page. You have either come here to commend my purity in the area of heavy metal or craft a spiteful post questioning my taste and/or assumed sexuality. Well I will leave you to it. Remember the word Faggot has two ‘g’s and no ‘i.’ If you would like to take a break between your unmitigated blasts of rage, check out Tape Wyrm’s Facebook page. Also while your sense of disdain is ruminating, you can listen to me speak about albums on Champions of the Universe every week.

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