(We welcome back Neill Jameson (Krieg) with the second installment of a multi-part post devoted to under-the-radar black metal releases worthy of greater attention. You can find Part 1 here.)
As we slog through the bullshit heat and humidity of the summer one could say the best activity to beat the heat is to stay indoors, shun your asshole friends who think hiking on the surface of the sun is enjoyable, grab a drink and bide your time listening to music. It’s a good distraction and perfect excuse not to go outside and get skin cancer in the name of “fun in the sun”.
This is the second part of my blathering about black metal releases you should listen to because I’m under the misguided impression that I have decent taste. This might turn into a three-part series because I keep thinking of random records at inopportune times like when my boss is trying to explain new vital procedures at work.
FERMENTING INNARDS – MYST LP 1995
I initially heard of Germany’s Fermenting Innards in some magazine, probably Nordic Vision, ripping them apart for being a death metal band who switched teams and threw on some paint to do a spooky record. For some reason back then, I was obsessed with hunting down the records these magazines shit on, mostly out of curiosity to see what made them so mad. This turned out to be a gem, not because it was funny or obnoxious like some of the shit I dug up, but because it was a really solid atmospheric black metal record. I’ve championed this record for years as a great time capsule of the mid/late 1990s scene. Shame they seemed to cease upon its release.
DEBAUCHERY – DEAD SCREAM SYMPHONY EP 2002
I don’t know if it goes against journalistic ethics to write about a record you released, but it’s a good thing I’m neither a journalist nor possess any ethics. This EP was the first post-Judas Iscariot project Akhenaten put together after ending his most well known creation. This recording took what Akhenaten had done with Judas and pushed it a step further. It has a narrative, a story in sonics to tell. It’s difficult to choose what release I was fortunate enough to put out is my favorite, but this one will always be very special to me. Why this or any of his other post-Judas Iscariot projects never took off in the same fashion will always be a mystery, but I imagine it has to do with name recognition and the fact that most people are dolts.
SWORDMASTER – WRATHS OF TIME EP 1995
This was a difficult choice because I also consider Postmortem Tales to be a fucking great record, but 1995’s Wraths of Time is so catchy and memorable that it had to win out. Fullmoon Productions were seriously on a roll in the mid ’90s with uncovering the best in the underground. Swordmaster were no-frills Swedish black metal that managed to be epic without being corny about it. Even though they shifted towards the retro thrash thing for future releases, they still managed to be head and shoulders above a lot of the competition. Shame what they morphed into with Deathstars, but I guess rather than giggle at that shit we should spend time being grateful they gave us this in the first place.
POTENTIAM – BALSYN LP 1999
This is one of those records that if it came out now it would be heralded as the innovative genius it rightfully deserved when it came out in 1999. Iceland’s Potentiam managed to capture one of the most unique essences I’ve ever heard on record, making a morose combination of black metal, old goth, and rock, with vocals that switched from frantic to a controlled voice that for some reason always reminded me of the rock coming out of the Pac Northwest in the early ’90s, which probably wasn’t their intention. This is a weirdly comforting record that I wish someone would release on vinyl. They continued to record but I wasn’t as much into the second record, though I hear subsequent recordings are worth a listen.
FROSTMOON – TORDENKRIG LP 1999
I think I’ve taken this band the wrong way for a long time. Norway’s Frostmoon obviously are doing Viking-influenced black metal, but I always found the clean vocals to remind me more of a mixture of ’70s Kraut rock and Gregorian chanting mixed with late ’60s folk, which I’m 100% sure is not the intention at all. Regardless, I always loved this record. Even with a drum machine it just all seemed to gel together in a perfect fashion, and I wish they’d do more recordings as rumored years ago because this is fantastic shit.
GORGON – REIGN OF OBSCENITY LP 1996
This is probably the most underrated album, perhaps band, out of France ever. Gorgon’s first record appealed to the part of me that wanted to hear Worship Him pt II, but the advancement they made afterwards was fucking impressive. This record manages to be raw and aggressive yet also atmospheric and mournful at the right times. This is a band whose entire discography is worth hunting down, but this especially. Fucking great!
Looking back at all of this I think I will have to do a third part because things keep popping into my head that help ease the pain of what most modern black metal has become. Also, as a caveat, I’m wearing an age-reducing mask while writing this, so keep that in your thoughts (and prayers) if you ever want to talk shit at me. Until next time!