Friday, 25 February 2011

The fallen dawnbearer

As a part of the overwhelming second wave of black metal in the early 90s, Burzum were shining in a uniqueness that was better estimated some years later. The template Vikernes applied to his 'band' was responsible for some of the most abominable trash that littered the black metal scene for almost two decades. Bedroom bm, suicidal bm, ns bm(!), the one man band trend (namely some fucking imbecile claiming he is so fucking misanthropic to work with anyone else). Just name what you find appalling in black metal and you can find Vikernes at the beginning of it all. 
Of course a man is responsible for his actions only, so if anyone is to blame about this situation, these are the apes that mimicked whatever they thought was easier for them to reproduce. Burzum, Aske and Det Som Engang Var were landmarks of cold, misanthropic and inhumanly calculated black metal. From then on, the increased presence of ambient parts and the use of repetition in order to achieve the illusion of the hypnotic feeling started to alienate me from his work, which I started to consider more boring than ambient or hypnotic.
The two supposedly ambient-electronic albums he recorded from jail are mainly laughable affairs. The fact that even such mediocrity found ground fertile enough to prosper in the metal underground was one evidence more (if needed) of the decline of black metal from the second half of the 90s until the early 00s. 
Last years Belus was a lukewarm attempt to recapture the old feeling that was unfortunately focused on the period of Filosofem mainly and I found it to be boring and uninspired. The record was buried even more by the great expectations and the hype created by the media. 
Fallen is a completely different case. It is the record that made me pay attention at Burzum fifteen years after I have written the guy off. It is raw, with that cyclic riffing that creates clever melodies that capture you like a web and drag you to the (fairy)tales the guy has to say. You know it is no true nor realistic, it is even naive but you are lured. I am lured. His vocal performance is probably his best ever...he screams, he howls, he sings, he mourns and he sounds more convincing than ever. The choice of a (part of a) painting by the french realist Adolphe-William Bouguereau comes as no surprise knowing Vikernes' affinity for european history/mythology and classical art. At first I admit I mocked time passes I find it all the more fitting.

People that have a pure outlook on music and art and the feelings it should create, have always been a source of inspiration for me. Matthew McNerney is such a case. Greatly underrated obviously because of his low profile personality but also obviously an honest, cultured and educated artist that honours any music form he chooses to express himself through. True artists are comfortable expressing their spiritual or other concerns using any vessel suits them. Black metal, death metal, folk, rock etc are but tools that in the hands of talented  artists may unleash the great power they contain in the greatest effect.
Although the moniker of a project should be indicative of its creator's intentions and the feelings he wishes to communicate, rare are the cases where it is so representative and accurate as Hexvessel is. You'll find elsewhere plenty of detailed descriptions of the music that is being presented on Dawnbearer. Such details are completely unimportant. What matters are the feelings, emotions and images the music conjures up. What matters is the journey you will experience. Hell, the guy has even made me like a Paul Simon song, by reconstructing and darkening Diamonds (on the sole of her shoe). The essence of the whole world is in here...there's light, there's darkness, there's joy, there's sorrow, there's devoutness. Additionally there's Machen and Crowley and Capote and many more. Occult music can be extremely charming in the hands of gifted individuals. Enough said...

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Stained Glass Revelations

Negative Plane have crafted one of the best black metal albums of the last ten years and presented it to the unsuspected masses in the form of their debut Et In Saecula Saeculorum. Their logo might incorporate almost every cliche of the black metal universe (pentagram, goathead, skulls, 666), yet this is a rare case where this shouldn't bother at the least, as their music is anything but cliched. The fact that many where those that easily and superficialy named their music avant garde or progressive or experimental is one more evidence of the metal world's stupidity and luck of basic musical 'education'. In that sense, anything that is black metal but does not resemble the old scandinavian 'necro' sound should be progressive or avant garde. In fact Negative Plane have made the simplest of things. They have taken the lessons taught by all the greats of dark extreme music and made them their own shaping a personality that is unique and in the shallow microcosm of today's black metal this uniqueness is being magnified.

Their second spell has been in preparations for five years and by listening to Stained Glass Revelations, that is evident. There isn't a single part of the new record that is not an improvement compared to the debut. Cavernous, chaotic but above all outright EVIL. The legacy of three decades of occult metal finds it's worthy beneficiaries. Mercyful Fate, Bathory, Celtic Frost, Mortuary Drape, Samael, early Mayhem, early your successors. 

Most of all, the band honours the dark traditions with the passion and feeling they inject to their work. Belief and feeling is all that is needed for the greatest black metal and Negative Plane have those in amounts to spare for all the talentless flock that plagues the black metal scene. In the general frame of black metal Negative Plane would be categorised as orthodox bm. But if you expect to hear choirs, psalms and suchlike you lost. In Negative Plane's world there is no room for cheap tricks and trends. Their music is a religious experience by itself, the whole record is a liturgy, a mindfuck that shapes the listener's/participant's mind and soul the way the band wishes. There is no other black metal band today that evokes the occult and gothic horror the way Negative Plane does. Bear in mind that before the term gothic (in music) degenerated to describe the gay/eyeliner parody it does today, it was used for such great bands as Bauhaus or Fields of the Nephilim. Stained Glass Revelations invokes the occult magnificence of Fields of the Nephilim or Garden of Delight at their best although there are no obvious similarities in sound. 

This is the best exploration of the abyss one could hope for. Those that can feel the real darkness have found their haven. They will explore every detail of the music, they will study every aspect of the spectacular artwork, they will do justice to such a magnificent record.  More words would seem to be a disgrace for a work of such proportions. Bow down in respect.     

Burzum - Fallen
The Dead Brothers - 5th Sin-Phonie
The Beast Of The Apocalypse - Henosis
Mirror Of Deception & Garden Of Worm split
Dødsengel - Dødsengel
Hexvessel - Dawnbearer
Ättestupa - Begraven Mot Norr