(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Finland’s Black Royal, which was released by Suicide Records on February 14th.)
Maybe it’s just me (I don’t think it is, but you never know) but it seems like the last several years have seen quite a lot of bands, both old and new, turning back to the “old school” for inspiration.
And while there are lots of speculative, pseudo-psychological reasons for why this might be so (there’s certainly something to be said for the idea that during unsettling or uncertain times we’re more likely to cling to what’s familiar), I honestly think that the best explanation for this recent “old school” resurgence is that quite a lot of bands have simply grown dissatisfied with what more modern trends have to offer them (and, in turn, demand from them).
Of course, this isn’t necessarily anything all that new. Metal has, after all, often been quite an insular scene, with a large fixation on its own history, and practically every year sees the emergence of yet another wave of “retro” groups trying to recapture the spirit and the sound of Metal’s “golden age”… mostly without really adding anything to it.
But, of late, I’ve really taken note of how many bands have been trying to do more than just imitate the classics by taking and twisting them into fresh new shapes, repurposing clichéd ideas for new purposes, and by mixing and matching “timeless” elements in ways which would once have been unthinkable.
I’m sure we can all think of lots of current/recent examples of this (Chapel of Disease immediately spring to mind). But the one I want to bring your attention to today is the brilliant second album from Finnish riffmongers Black Royal.