Friday, August 19, 2011

Confusing prescription with opinion

With subjective opinion being one of the rare things you can actually call your own, it strikes me as odd when people respond to an invitation to write a piece for Black Metal Revolution with comments amounting to, “If people don’t already know about this record, what can I tell them?”

The “invitation” is an offer to share your insights into the Black Metal record you most revere; to explore the symbiotic relationship between the author and their nominated record. Due to the subjective nature of music there really is no such thing as “good” or “bad” music. Quality, like beauty is all in the eye of the beholder.

"There is no difference between Noise and Music in my work. I have no idea what you 
term ‘Music’ and ‘Noise’. It's different depending on each person. If ‘Noise’ means 
uncomfortable sound, then pop music is noise to me." Masami Akita, Merzbow.

The author’s nominated record possesses merit because the listener deems it worthy of reverie. Outside this relationship, the record is just an object; a product of someone’s imagination, efforts, convictions one hopes, but an object just the same.

So the concept of opinion here is strictly experiential – it is your vision of this record that is being sought and an interpretation unshackled by the influence of individuals exerting which records that are supposedly valid or true. To tap deep into the essence of why your chosen opus matters to you should render all other considerations redundant. My fundamental concern is for readers to be able to channel your vision and either discover an offering they hadn’t had the opportunity to prior, or at least determine an unconsidered perspective.

Pre-empting reader response is futile, they will extrapolate the messages as they see fit. Considering the likely audience for a publication such as Black Metal Revolution, it is naïve to consider it some sort of “rule book” or “guide to BM for the uninitiated” as there is no prescribed list of the records that should and should not be included. There are offerings I would like to see adorn the books pages, but this is not something I intend to contrive as it is at odds with the production’s essence.

A submission to BMR is a clear account of a record that matters to the author and why. Sure it can be more should you wish it to be. Some are better equipped than others to provide such an insight, though creative prowess is not necessarily a gateway to divination. VON is always going to appeal to me over some sort of pompous, overblown and overproduced act like Dream Theater; though try to explain to a Dream Theatre fan WHY that is the case is futile. The language of reverie is different for all individuals who are truly channeling their innermost.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Another opus worthy of the book's pages?

Ulver 'Nattens Madrigal'

Though Black Metal Revolution has now received approx 100 completed submissions, there are still a great many releases that I hope to see covered in the book's pages. The following is not one I actually expect to see profiled, but felt compelled to offer something on this myself. As noted in previous entries I have already composed my personal submission  (my piece on Burzum's 'Hvis Lyset Tar Oss' can be viewed here) so it's not as though the following discourse on Ulver will be featured, but it does give prospective authors another point of view should they be seeking inspiration...

Without question, reverie for Ulver's third offering deserves a space within the pages of Black metal Revolution. An album in which the accolades awarded it are steeped in the most cherished of mid 90's BM cliches; had it manifested earlier than it did, it would have possibly been the record by which the barometer for those terms was set.

Radiating most directly the trance-like elements of Darkthrone's 'Transilvanian Hunger', the sound materilises as a more sonic, savage expulsion which is amazingly melodious without ever being crass or obvious. Where 'Hunger' appears saturated, Ulver have generated a storm of sound that while visceral is also separated and dynamic. I suggest the expertise of the performance and execution to be most responsible for this result.

Though the above-held position is not unique to me alone, there is of course another path of exploration that needs to be addressed. It was not a secret that Ulver intended this to be their final dalliance in the BM sound sphere, and though I had no idea of what would materialise on successor (William Blake's Marriage Of Heaven and Hell) I believe this declaration had set in motion some sort of psychic rot where this musical epiphany was tarnished before even being heard. I imagine that had the band continued under another moniker, that this ill feeling may have been less significant, though I wonder if I am simply at odds with the idea of a band choosing not to perform BM any longer. I framed Ulver as channelling the same lunacy as their contemporaries. Obviously this is a shortcoming on my part, complicated by the nature of the fanatic no less.

Further bedevilled by the affiliation with Century Media, it seemed the band had distanced themselves from what they were perceived to be. 'Nattens...' felt somewhat contrived, though I wonder whether there is any more to that than a difficulty in aligning myself to the idea that a band could plan and execute three releases prior to recording any of them and know exactly how the story would end. It felt like anathema to the art and craft of playing in a band. Corrupting the orthodoxy of vision, trial, and revision to guide the outcome. While I don't generally care for convention, some mediums will never reach their true potential if not adequately explored. Granted this assessment is a simplistic one and
within the boundaries of any apparent absolutes are untold variables.

The cover does this release no justice, but whenever I put this record on, the scourging guitar sound forms images of glacier cold currents of unbridled electrical current and though the thrill of the journey's commencement does not continue through to the album's conclusion, Garm's vocal wrath, Skoll's fluid and energizing bass highlighted with rapacious drumming and the "did they?" actually record this deep, deep in the woods is always enough to keep me clearing the decks for at least one more round.

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Friday, January 14, 2011

I wish someone would write about...

Gehenna's 'Ancestor Of The Darkly Sky' though cryptic in title, is without doubt one of my most revered Black Metal records. As I don't intend to fill Black Metal Revolution with submissions written by myself (my piece on Burzum's 'Hvis Lyset Tar Oss' can be viewed here) I can live in hope that one of the 333 submissions that make the final publication will profile this melodious, yet odious benchmark Norwegian Black Metal EP.

I did however find inspiration to write a few words about it myself...

GEHENNA ‘Ancestor Of A Darkly Sky’
Country: Norway
Year Of Release: 1994
Label: Necromantic Gallery Productions

‘Ancestor…’ is five or so minutes of black metal supremacy. Two things radiate for me on this record. The keys are number one without question; jubilant and uplifting, completely overpowering the guitars but sounding so natural, they really carry these songs that I expect would have been listenable at best were it not for the strength of the synths. I also relish the vocals. Unlike many BM vocalists of the day, Sarabb’s delivery is raw and guttural, controlled and convincing, without appearing shrill and desperate. The Norwegian bands really knew how to write a song for the most part and unlike Emperor who improved exponentially from a demo band into their debut full length, Gehenna really nailed it here on this 7” and for me it was a magick they never realized beyond this release.

7” EPs of the early 90’s were not so hot in terms of quality. Thin vinyl prone to warping, the covers printed on undernourished stock, readily susceptible to wear, this was probably one of the earlier records to get the hand numbered treatment and it saddens me to say that I have played it so much that it is starting to sound worn. Spare no expense in pursuing this offering, I cite these songs as perfect.

I believe these tracks are to appear on the expansive vinyl offering that The Crypt have planned for later this year. For more info...