(Earlier this week, Metal Injection published a discourse on The 10 Most Lethal Weapons In Black Metal. In the introduction to the article, the author alluded to the reasons why certain kinds of weaponry have been associated with the genre. Now we get the author’s full explanation — a Part 1, if you will, to the Part 2 piece that appeared at Metal Injection. At NCS, you know the prolific author as Rev. Will. In the course of his research, he consulted members of Noctem, Sigh, and Edge of Paradise, as well as the Vegan Black Metal Chef.)
Funnily enough, whenever black metal weaponry floats to the surface of the perpetually random sea of thoughts slushing about in my head, the next thing that invariably comes to mind is the “bling-bling” of hip-hop culture. Before the elitists out there start coming down on me with the wrath of Satan’s cheeseburger, consider for a moment the following comparison.
Now, I am not insinuating that there is a musical similarity between both genres. What I would like to point out is that just as bling-bling is the Statue of Liberty of hip-hop, black metal weaponry is very much an iconic part of black metal that serves as the first graphic reference for most people’s memory banks when they try to recollect what they can of the grim metal sub-genre (someone ought to give it a catchy name too, maybe “cling-clang”). Just as many hip-hop artistes are famous within the mainstream music circle for their overly-flashy jewelry, black metal musicians are infamous within the underground music community for their ostentatious weapons as well.
Over time, both sets of accessories have evolved from merely being elements of sub-genre attire into cultural movements of their own. Bling-bling and cling-clang are both usually made of metal, but that’s where the similarity between both cultural movements stops. Unsurprisingly, for a sub-genre and cultural movement as pessimistic and misanthropic as black metal, its proliferation in the early ‘90s even had the occasional political motive—something much of hip-hop has left far behind since its early days.
I don’t listen to a lot of black metal. That is, I don’t listen to a lot of straight-up black metal. I like my black metal to be experimented with, diluted, wrapped around electronic melodies (Thy Catafalque) or folky weirdness (old Finntroll) or prog (newer Enslaved). So, although I am a big fan of In Somniphobia, the newest release from Japanese black metal weirdos Sigh, my experience with them to date only goes back to their Gallows Gallery album.
I’ve been meaning to go back further, as I understand that they really started to experiment with their sound fairly early on, but I have too much music to listen to as it is. What I have heard, I have greatly enjoyed, and the three albums that I’ve listened to previously have all had their own interesting sounds, from the eclectic jazz-and-power-metal-influenced Gallows Gallery to the orchestral thrash of Hangman’s Hymn to the all-out orchestral insanity of Scenes From Hell.
Considering how different all of those albums are in relation to one another, I had no idea what to expect from In Somniphobia, but I suspected it was still going to be pretty fucking good. And I was not disappointed.
My biggest concern for In Somniphobia was the production. Scenes From Hell was a great album filled with real symphonic instrumentation, but it was hamstrung by an awful mix, where everything was compressed and flattened all to hell. It was still a well-written, interesting album, but what should have been an open, dynamic album instead felt somewhat lifeless. Thankfully, In Somniphobia does not suffer from the same problem. The mix isn’t perfect, sure, but it’s still a major improvement, and the album is that much the better for it.
December and 2011 are both over, and with the end of the last month, it’s time to round up what we saw over the last 30 days about forthcoming albums.
We usually try to post these updates on the first of the month, but the first of this month was New year’s Day, and I was moving kinda slowly that day. Plus, I’ve been focusing on year-end lists from a variety of sources, and, well, I’m late with this. I have more excuses, if you’d like to hear them. No? Okay, I understand. I’ll just shut up and get going with this list.
So, here’s the deal: In these METAL IN THE FORGE posts, I collect news blurbs and press releases I’ve seen over the last month about forthcoming new albums from bands we know and like at NCS (including occasional updates about releases we’ve included in previous installments of this series), or from bands that look interesting, even though we don’t know their music yet. In this series, we cut and paste those announcements and compile them in alphabetical order.
Remember — THIS ISN’T A CUMULATIVE LIST. If we found out about a new forthcoming album before December, we wrote about it in previous installments of this series. So, be sure to check the Category link called “Forthcoming Albums” on the right side of this page to see forecasted releases we reported earlier.
This month’s list begins right after the jump. It includes some real eye-openers. In fact, it’s not too soon to say that 2012 is already looking like yet another royally skull-fucking year for metal. But as usual, this list is half-assed rather than comprehensive. I confess that in December I was even more half-assed than usual in keeping my eyes open for news about new albums. So, feel free to leave Comments and tell all of us what I missed when I put this list together. Let us know about albums on the way that you’re stoked about, even if you don’t see them here!