Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Anus Metalicus

Hipster Black Metal. Had to happen didn't it?

Though as far as I can make out Mount Eerie beat eveyone to that a couple of years  ago. Quite  like that Mount Eerie/Microphones stuff actually, should give it all another serious listen.

Y'know  what though? I think I'm going to stop using the term Hipster. I think I over-applied it and  that maybe it was unfair to begin with.

Let's use the  no-less-odd coinage positive Black Metal.

First of all I absolutely love that Liturgy album. Yep, pretentious academic theorizing is exactly what Black Metal needs. Plus covers of  My Bloody Valentine (bloody awful as it happens, but it's the thought that counts). Plus, a kind of rickety/dry/No-Wave sparse and spartan intensity, as  much  Glenn Branca as Burzum all added up to an intoxicating new direction for rock in general, above  and beyond the impact on the Black Metal scene alone. So many  people "came of  age" in  different scenes in 2011 that earlier moaning (my own) about lack of ideas/pastiche/hipsterism seem retrospectively misplaced.
Again, as with the Ferraro and Lopatin stuff below it felt like something new was happening: if there was some real or imagined confluence between Dubstep and Drone metal, it will be interesting to see if there is any overlap between positive BM and post-dubstep. I reckon that  Rustie likes a bit of  Black, innit.


So obviously the other major PBM bands had releases this year too, and I dug them both. I really  like the pretentious/unpretentious thing going on with these bands that  punctures all the solemnity of the scene. At some  points that solemnity has seemed vital,  now it feels a little bit unengaged. Ideas are  always  important of course  but they're especially important right now and it's good to see these bands come along and  inject a certain contrariness and debate into what could otherwise be a rather hermetic and inarticulate scene, ironically, given how generally smart Metal fans are.

So obviously  Wolves  In  The  Throne  Room and  Kralice  got  my  vote (again).WITTR are  often  referred  to  as  Eco-metal, presumably because  of their  reliance  on  images  of  a  pastoral/sublime and  I like the  term, adding a potentially  transformative, political  edge, plus  they're  kind of  down-home, rustic types. Regular  Joes. Black Metal as the new Heartland  Rock.

 Death Metals' smartest man (he wouldn't like that description, I suspect) Hideous Gnostic, Caina had a new one out too. How's about that Caina, eh? and  his heroic  disregard for any presumed listeners/fanbase. He's a one off and  as I've  said  before, locates  Black Metal (and  hardcore and  post-rock etc) in a particular long train of Englishness, especially in his willful iconoclasm. An album that travelled  far and  wide...

...... taking things off in a whole different direction really, and partly falling in with  Darkthrones' (only  partially  successful) return to Eighties'  Hardcore.

Though these guys expressed that interface most successfully and  produced, through a  pretty  fulsome  combination  of  hardcore  and  Black Metal  an  absolute  riff-monster. In terms  of  sheer cathartic rush  not  much this  year  came close. Plus  they had a good line  in  essentially Arty post BM too.

Though  my  favourite of  them all and maybe  my  favourite album of  the  year  was  this bit  of  Dadaist Black  Metal from Finnish band Oranssi Pazuzu. Something  of  a conceptual joke given the  band  members' other  activities, nonetheless it  opened  up all kinds  of  new  sonic  and  structural possibilities  for  metal. Was it just Blackened Hawkwind? Maybe  so, but it was still a rare and  otherworldy blast of satanic space junk.

Here's the message: change or  die. Change or remain undead/half-alive. Change is a kind of death  anyway, die in order to be reborn. Be keen to find new loves and new hates.

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