(Last year we were fortunate to present five installments in a series by Neill Jameson (Krieg, Poison Blood) recommending black metal releases from years past. Neill now brings us (and you) a further installment collecting music from six more bands. To get a look at previous editions of the series, click this link and scroll down. If we’re lucky, more will come our way in the future.)
For some reason people seem to like talking to me, especially the ones I don’t want to talk to. And inevitably in these conversations I get poked and prodded about current black metal because the vacant look in my eyes isn’t speaking loudly enough. And most of the time I try to shrug it off because I’m terrible in social situations and also I don’t have a lot to say about many modern bands. Like fresh out of the womb modern with a demo in one hand and a fistful of dreams in the other, not new projects with veteran members or anything like that. Jesus this got confusing.
What I’m trying to get at is (1) I’m old and boring, and (2) it’s incredibly difficult for me to constantly keep up with modern shit when there’s still so much to be mined from an earlier age. Which is why I like to dip back into the well that was supposed to be a three-part series that’s now on its sixth iteration with no real ending planned.
Dedicated for those of you who complain about people being stuck mining the past while spending an absurd amount of money to look like you were an extra in one of the original Mad Max films.
Triumphator — The Ultimate Chaos ep (1999)
Triumphator are one of the tragedies of the late ’90s/early ’00s scene. You can even use them in one of those games people like to post on Facebook: tell a sad story using only six words. “They recorded their album at Abyss.” But for those of us who were around, this ep was fucking brilliant. Absolutely punishing chaos, with the Marduk and Funeral Mist pedigree taken to a new, more savage level.
This was really my first introduction to Arioch’s vocals and it remains one of my favorite performances of the time period. But when they went into Abyss Studio to record their full-length it seems like they were asked to check all of their weapons at the door. I can’t think of another band that has been so fucking neutered by a recording. Unfortunately, after the record the band had some issues and a follow up was never conceived.
2. Silexater — Mad Sorcer demo & Bleeding Depths ep (1994)
Silexater was the one-man project of the brother of Gerrit, who owned Malicious Records. He only did the demo Mad Sorcer and the 7” his brother released, Bleeding Depths, so this is one of the easier bands to actually track down a full discography, but good fucking luck finding any kind of relevant information on the project beyond that. I seem to recall he’d killed himself but I can’t find a thing on it besides people on the NWN! Board taking time off from their usual bouts of mature discourse to ask the same questions I just asked Google, so I guess we’re bedfellows there.
Anyway there was a comp LP of this stuff released by Sombre that sounds like shit and is one of my prized possessions and a CD released on a Japanese label that I don’t own so I can’t tell you shit about.
3. Old Forest — Into the Old Forest (1999)
By the late ’90s black metal had really gone through a lot of changes and, for the most part, finding a recording that had a touch of the creepy magic that the early ’90s demos and records had wasn’t easy. Most of those bands had disbanded, gotten their shit together and sounded professional (i.e., boring) or just changed/evolved/sold out/insert your definition here. Not Old Forest, though.
Everything about this record screamed 1992, from the production to the aesthetic to the corpse paint (discounting the guy in clown paint, which made this a hard sell to some of my friends). And especially considering at the time of release the only black metal you ever heard about in the UK was Cradle of Filth and whatever dreck they were influencing, or Venom’s post-Cast in Stone snoozers. Old Forest reformed and have done a lot of records the last few years and I haven’t kept up, but few records of the last twenty years can match the graveyard creepiness of Into the Old Forest.
Post Script: I listened to Dagian (2015) while I was finishing this and while it’s not spooky like the old material it’s fucking solid. My first impression was “Oh great, they listen to Falkenbach” but was pleasantly surprised with it and a bit pissed I didn’t pay attention when it came out.
4. Gnome — Silent Scream (2012)
The first time I heard this was when we were recording The Black House and Andrew put it on, telling me how he had been trying to sign Gnome but the project all but ceased after he offered, instilling him with the feeling that this was as underground as possible. Now I don’t know about all that but I do know that Gnome did become my favorite Japanese black metal band, especially when Sigh and Abigail both really lost their old ways.
Silent Scream is a compilation that came out a few years ago with a lot of the project’s demo material, though not all of it. A cursory look at Discogs shows that the stuff not on the compilation goes for a stupid amount of money and people are apparently paying it, so good for you guys, I guess. If you dug pre-prison Burzum or early Forgotten Woods I’m pretty sure this would also be in your wheelhouse though those comparisons are strictly reference points as Gnome has a feeling all its own.
5. Worshipper — Promo 96 / Octinomos — Welcome to My Planet
Double entry because when I began this series I had two of Fredrik Söderlund’s albums in the first entry and since the Worshipper demo only has two songs and I showed poor taste by saying only the first Octinomos record was worth listening to, I guess I just needed to cram both into this entry.
Worshipper is pretty close to Söderlund’s other projects around the time, same atmosphere but it’s a fucking deadly demo and a shame that the full-length promised in the sleeve of the tape never came to pass.
The second and third Octinomos records never clicked with me when they were released. Maybe because of the label? I don’t know, but I went back and gave them both some serious time and I’ve absolutely changed my opinion; both are fucking excellent, even the one with the butthole on the cover, and it makes me wish he still did music besides ambient stuff.
At this point I’m pretty sure I’ve covered everything I wanted to cover with this series but I’m going to leave it open since I thought I was done with pt III and I’m sure someone will remind me of something I’ve missed. ‘Til then..