It’s probably a mistake to try to sum up the early defining characteristics of second-wave black metal in broad strokes, because even then there was more diversity in the music than many people usually credit. But certainly one of those defining characteristics was a feeling of rebellion and rejection expressed in strikingly aggressive, and even hostile terms, drawing in part on the spirit of punk but making that spirit feel a hell of a lot more raw and dangerous.
But soon enough other moods began to be detected. It didn’t take long for adjectives like “grim” and “frostbitten” to surface and become staples, and not just because the breeding ground for the music tended geographically to be in cold northern climes. Looking back, it seems almost counter-intuitive for such scalding firebrand music to be characterized that way.
In part it was because haunting and harrowing elements of the supernatural were surfacing in both the themes and the atmosphere of the music, but that’s not the only explanation. It seems at least equally true that, along with rage and ferocity, some strains of the music also manifested an emotional spectrum that reached from melancholy to hopelessness and agony.
Which brings us, many decades later, to the French band Iffernet.