Dec 022013

(Guest writer Ben raises an interesting question about the effect of seasonal change on listening habits. Read . . . and comment!)

Hello NCS readers, my name is Ben, and as Winter comes into it’s fullness (at least where I’m living in Wisconsin) I’ve noticed something interesting this year.

As the temperature decreases down to the teens or lower, the volume increases and the aggression in the music increases considerably. It’s probably obvious I listen to “heavy” music, seeing as I’m a regular visitor of NCS, but my taste is quite varied. I can, on a daily basis, be listening to bands like Death, At The Gates, and Godflesh, as well as classical compositions, jazz, drum and bass, etc. But the right choice for the winter days and nights, just seems to be unrelenting Metal.

As you may have noticed, the title of this post is a nod to the frostbite-loving Norwegians we all know as Immortal.  Now I’m not the biggest Immortal fan, or Black Metal for that matter. I appreciate it, but I get sick of hearing about how “evil” a band supposedly is. For the reasons I described earlier, though, over the past few weeks Immortal has more often than usual been a nice choice of music for the working hours.

So my question to all you readers is this: Have you found similar results? As the temperature decreases, have the frostbitten textures of Immortal as well as other Norwegian or Swedish metal bands become your choice for listening? Or do you go in a different direction? Do you even (dare I say) listen to music with CLEAN SINGING?? Or is it instrumental music that complements the colder and darker time of year best for you?

Thanks again to Islander for giving us, the NCS readers, a chance to post. And I hope that you all find this interesting, or at least that it makes you a bit more aware of how you respond to weather change in your music listening habits.

  34 Responses to “AT THE HEART OF WINTER”

  1. I think (as I belaboured in a previous post) it’s easier (and more accurate) to think of bands as expressing “evil” in terms of philosophical musings and artistic creation. They’re “addressing” evil, rather than “being” evil.

    I do agree that my Black Metal listening increases in the dark months however. Though that may just be a relative function of a decrease in listening to other types of metal that don’t feel appropriate to the environment. After all, I listen to a lot of Black Metal as it is. So maybe it’s only a relative increase.

  2. Cold weather (here in Minnesota, Ben!) actually makes me want to listen to black metal records. I was like shit, it’s cold *puts on Emperor* *puts on Mayhem*

    I listen to a ton of different stuff though too.

  3. Preach man. I was having this talk with a friend earlier in the year. Temperature is inversely proportional to the amount of brutality in my music. Summer is maybe a 25/75 split, but once snot starts to freeze in my mustache it’s nothing but scathing waves of sonic violence till the thaw.

    On a specific black metal front, I defiantly do enjoy it more in the winter but it doesn’t make up a huge part of my diet.

  4. I think bands like Immortal just “fit” winter better than summer. It’s a lot easier to listen to songs about Frozen Realms of the Winterdemons when it feels like you’re living in those same Realms.

    That said, my listening habits have actually gotten a little softer the past few months. I’ve been listening to a lot of bands like Ancient VVisdom and A Pale Horse Named Death in the early part of this winter, whereas I spent the summer listening to death and black metal. This is unusual for me, though, as in the past I’ve been known to walk to class in January while listening to Old Man’s Child…

  5. There is no colder music than Immortal. I, however, listen to them at all times of year. I do always break out Wintersun and Halford’s Christmas album for the holidays.

  6. i listen to “frosty” black metal all year long, that being said, i should move to siberia 😛
    but i agree, winter and lower temperatures seem to go hand in hand with a certain kind of music, cold and frostbitten like Immortal or something mystical like Agalloch/Forest Stream.
    i’ve been listening to The Smiths all day and although they are far from a metal band, i think it fits.

  7. Living in a place where there’s 3 months of what you can actually call a summer – IF you’re lucky, you don’t necessarily want to spend that time listening to Immortal & friends. So, instead when it’s 4-5 months of “utter darkness when you go to school/work, utter darkness when you come home from school/work”, you’re slightly more inclined to dark, cold and melancholic sweetness.

    To answer you’re question: I could not relate to this post more.

  8. I dont know if I actually change my listening habits very much throughout the year, but I agree that certain genres seem to lineup with certain seasons fairly well

    Winter = Black Metal
    Summer = Death Metal or Thrash
    Fall = Doom
    Spring = Folk or Power

  9. I would add doom, especially death/doom and funeral doom, to the discussion of stuff to listen when It gets wintry. I’ve been listening to a lot more of it lately, with bands like Ataraxie and Eye of Solitude dominating my playlist. Then again, I have no say, since San Diego’s weather changes by maybe ten degrees when “winter” hits.

    • I disagree..Doom has a far stronger association with Autumn in my mind

      • Maybe some of the more traditional stuff, but the new Ataraxie record just felt perfect for the onset of winter.

        • Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of bands like Aphotic, Novembers Doom, Doom:Vs, Draconian, Dusk and Evoken

          Each to their own, but as I said, that style of music feels much more like Autumn to me

    • No worries, “Leperkahn”. I’m originally from Los Angeles, so it’s only with having moved to the northern Midwest of the US that I was really noticing this “change” or difference in genres of choice according to the weather.

  10. I do notice a sharp increase of black metal in my playlists during the winter months of Minnesota. Though I listen to BM (or bm-influenced) music year-round. But really, anything atmospheric, icy, mid-paced, and folky really just lends itself to this time of year, to include a lot of post-rock like Alcest, Les Discrets, Kauan, Jakob, etc. It makes those long, winter drives that much more enjoyable, plus the excess time spent indoors. I still will never forget driving through a blizzard with a friend to a record store to pick up our copies of Agalloch’s “Marrow of the Spirit” then spending the whole drive back listening to it. Perfect.

  11. Winter is definitely the saddest season for me. There’s a lot of reasons for that (mostly too personal to share here), but I definitely listen to mostly mournful or sad-sounding music during the frostbitten months.
    Personal favorite: Thought Industry “Black Umbrella”
    Not necessarily metal, but it’s an extremely depressing album. Also, the lyrics are focused around winter and specifically Christmas. I recommend everyone listens to it during these chilly times. The previous album by the same band, “Outer Space is Just a Martini Away” is another good one, although not winter-themed. Also it’s more metal.
    Check em out, tell me what you think!

  12. I live at the ass end of NZ, which itself is at the ass end of the world. It’s cold all the time, and the houses are old and shit without insulation, so it’s even cold inside. I haven’t noticed any change in my habits over the year – it all depends on what has come out recently But since there’s no real seasons I’m not sure I can even answer this question.

    I’m moving to Chile soon, so I hope I don’t turn into some ‘I’ve gone soft now I’m living in a warm climate’ old fogey.. you’ve got me worried 😉

  13. I started watching documentaries about Black Metal and listening to it a lot as the temperature went down. Just seems to be the right thing to do. Also, Abbath says the funniest shit:

  14. I have to say I am a HUGE Black Metal fan, so I listen throughout the year, not based on any seasonal trends. I do have some other odd associations, like wanting to listen to Black Sabbath or Judas Priest when playing D&D (my friend’s brother was the first one to introduce the game to me in the early ’80s, and that as well as other “classic” Metal bands were on the record player when we ran through some stuff), especially the more “occulty” stuff. Also I don’t listen to too much other than metal these days (I used to like some of the Alternative bands back in the day when that term had some meaning…)

    As a side note, at work we sometimes have Haloween costume contests. I fully intended to go as Abbath one year, but then Hurricane Sandy happened…


    • That’s funny. I had a full on black metal costume all set to go for the Halloween the year before Sandy hit, but we got hit with a freak blizzard here in the northeastern US. Oddly appropriate now that I think of it.

  15. I’ve definitely noticed this. I’ve been listening to a lot more black metal as of late. I always seem to listen to more black metal when it gets cold out. This also makes me wonder if a country’s climate determines the type of metal it produces. This would definitely explain why Norway became the birthplace of black metal and why Indonesia produces such a disproportionate amount of brutal death metal.

    • Not to nitpick too much, but black metal has been around longer than the Norsecore scene that so many people associate with that word.

  16. I live in Norway, so i guess the year round winter would explain why i listen to black metal year round.

    On a more serious note, i do listen to more black and doom metal when the sun dissapears during winter. Last few months i have been enjoying the shit out of Shinings Redefining Darkness, Avatarium, Watain, and Woods of Ypres.

  17. I have noticed this trend with ‘normal people’, who listen to music with exclusively ‘clean singing’ *cold shiver runs down my spine*… In the sense that they seem to listen more to ‘happy/uptempo’ music during the darker months to counteract the onset of depression due to the lack of sunlight.

    However, I am of course not one of the ‘normal’ population, and I feel like my listening habits do not change with the seasons. I can listen to funeral doom or kvlt black metal whilst enjoying the summer sun or whilst struggling to make my way to work through the blistering snowy cold of winter; it makes no difference to me.

  18. Any time I have to drive in the snow, my go to choice is Agalloch. It just feels right. Black metal in general is good listening all year round for me. No need to wait for the cold.

  19. I always go really dark in the begininning of winter but when it goes to about 4 hours of sunlight a day I start countering it with happier stuff. That being said Paranoia by Martyrdöd is out-winters even the grimmest bläck metal for me.

    Oh and remember to get your daily dose of vitamin D to help with the winter depression.

  20. i definitely used to fluctuate with the seasons, but over the past couple years my listening tastes have steadily evened out to the point that i seem to be listening to the same intensity of bands through out the whole year. but winter sure does seem to lend itself more to heavy music as far as mood and atmosphere.

  21. I definately fell in love with Tame Impala (psych rock) last summer which is not the usual direction I go music wise, but it definitely set the tone for my summer. Hardly listened to them in the winter.

    I think Storm of The Light’s Bane by Dissection perfects the ‘winter’ sound, Immortal does a great job too on that record.

  22. Well, it’s entirely different.

    In the summer, I listen to more power metal and death metal, whereas when it get’s winter, I tend to listen to more power metal and death metal 🙂

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