We could have a long (and probably inconclusive) conversation about why so much of second-wave black metal spawned descriptions that characterized the music as “cold” or “icy”, and why those descriptions persisted into the present day as thousands of bands carried the traditions forward.
The answer doesn’t seem obvious. A lot of the music might strike first-time observers as fiery and frenzied, more violently confrontational, savage, and nihilistic than the stuff of freezing moons. Riotous blast-beats, boiling tremolo riffs, and scalding screams don’t seem calculated to lower the temperature.
One explanation might lie in the grim and grievous emotions sometimes channeled by such sonic onslaughts. Where those sounds create moods of unyielding cruelty, despair, and the surrender of all hope, or the merciless presence of inevitable death, then it becomes more evident why people feel no warmth despite the super-heated deliveries.
Such thoughts have come to mind in listening to the music of the Dutch band Grafhond, a duo consisting of Graaf Graf and Nachtvorst who first began their Grafhond collaboration in 2017, resolved to seek a deeper and darker emotional connection in their black metal than some of the more formulaic, antiseptic, or sunlit styles that have branched away in the modern age.
The results of the Grafhond collaboration are collected in a six-song debut EP named In harmonie met de dood, which will be co-released on March 31st by Void Wanderer Productions and War Productions. A DIY effort, the record was self-recorded and mixed, and it represents the duo’s effort to give voice to their inner demons — aggressive in execution but expressive of affliction, desperation, and mourning.
As an instance of what the new EP represents we are today premiering a song named “Gefluister“, which was conceived as a manifestation of “the torment of negative voices screaming inside of your head.”
“Gefluister” erupts in an immediate surge of furiously hammering drums, tumultuous yet nimble bass lines, dense writhing waves of abrasive riffing, maddened howls, and cold roars. The emotional intensity is typhoon-like, but as those vast waves of sound rise and fall, they channel extremely dark moods (albeit in exhilarating fashion) — moods of derangement and despair, of imperious cruelty and harrowing agony.
However, the song changes and becomes even darker, transforming through slowly slashing chords, tormented screams, and detonating drums into a phase that’s oppressively bleak and crushingly hopeless. The guitars still ring in piercing ways, and the drums still sound like bombs dropping, but the emotional resonance is pitch-black… and ice-cold.
Although “Gefluister” is included in Grafhond‘s debut EP, it’s also the opening track on a forthcoming label sampler by Void Wanderer Productions that’s set for release on February 25th, on CD and digital formats.
The compilation includes nine other excellent expressions of extremism from the bands Schavot, Thy Black Blood, Arrogant Destruktor, Tattva, Grimtone, Apocalyptic Leaders, Asgrauw, Teitan, and Zwart. The sampler can be ordered here:
Grafhond‘s new EP In harmonie met de dood will be released on LP vinyl (black, trans/black, and trans-orange/black) and digital formats, and it’s recommended for fans of WAR, Darkthrone, Wiegedood, and Victimizer (NL). It will be available for pre-order today at these locations:
Follow Grafhond here:
God damn that is a nice analysis on iciness!
Just fine writing!
More goddam good Dutch metal too!
Thank you very much. It’s a subject I’ve thought about off and on for a long time. Still not sure of the answer, but it’s an interesting question.