A delightfully mixed selection for this week’s Album of the Day recap, taking in indigenous black metal; blackgaze; old-school crust punk; powerviolence-infused anti-fascist hardcore; and mind-expanding psychedelic black metal. It’s possibly the most varied selection yet, which, considering the way that Album of the Day gleeful hops between genres, is quite something. Enjoy!
This edition of short reviews take in some very interesting stuff, including one of my favourite releases of the year (which is it? Read on to find out!). It also features a split that, though I find it flawed musically, I can’t help but want to emphasise how much I love it for what it tries to do, and how important it will be to some people. There’s a real mix of the underground and bigger names, with three of the six releases being put out without label support.
So, this month, we have melodic punk; crusty powerviolence; not-actually-war-metal; noise rock; thrash/heavy metal; goth-laced metal that all-but resurrects the spirit of Sister; and blissful blackgaze. Enjoy!
This wek has been a tough one in lots of ways – but rather than wallow in sadness, I’m gonna instead try and focus on just how good the picks for Album of the Day have been this way. Includes a four-way split of emo and related genres; anti-fascist black metal; soul-crushing beauty; and stomping hardcore. Enjoy!
Label: Prophecy Productions
There’s a lot of genre tags that could be applied to Shouldhavebeens, the new album from Swedish band Tengil. Blackgaze, melodic post-hardcore, post-punk, and shimmering post-rock are all part of their sound, and yet no single descriptor feels like an accurate fit. This might suggest a record lacking focus and direction, yet that’s not the case. Instead, Shouldhavebeens is a record full of ambition, using whatever sound it needs to in order to achieve it aims. Throughout, there is a sense of youthful longing and restlessness, making Shouldhavebeens feel like an album fueled by the promise and joy of first (and lasting) love, of a search for belonging, and the knowledge that nothing worthwhile ever came easily.
Label: Holy Roar Records
Despite being a relatively young sub-genre, blackgaze has already fallen in to a pit where most bands playing the style feel tired and uninspired. Sure, there are some bands who stick close to the core of the genre whilst still sounding passionate and vital – such as Underdark – but they’re rare. Rarer still are bands such as Møl, who feel not so much as if they’re showing how strong the genre can be, but with Jord are instead reinventing it, making it feel alive and thrilling in a way that it hasn’t for years and years.
When people think of black metal and politics, odds are they think of bands who are on the far-right of the spectrum. It’s no surprise. Fascist imagery abounds in black metal, to the extent that it’s considered utterly normal by some, and there’s a long history of some of the big names of the genre espousing authoritarian, prejudiced views; and this is to say nothing of the whole NSBM sub-genre. But recent years have seen more and more bands making explicitly anti-fascist black metal. There’s always been those who have had views we would now recognise as anti-fascist – most notably Summoning – but that’s not always come across in their music. So, here are five bands playing various styles of black metal, where you won’t need to follow up on interviews to know their anti-fascist leanings.
“That’s not black metal!” is a response that is often mocked, associated as it is with the kind of fan who desperately clings to the past, unwilling to accept innovation or change. Most of the time, it is a useless sentiment, saying more about the speaker than the music they’re leveling the accusation at. Yet whilst listening to Anomie, the latest album from Azerbijani band Violet Cold, I find myself understanding and sympathising with the sentiment. The one-man act have a considerable discography that touches upon a multitude of genres, yet Anomie is being presented by much of the media and labels involved as an atmospheric black metal album; and whilst that’s one aspect of Anomie, it is far from the whole story. To approach the album as you would any other black metal album, with all the weight of expectation that brings, would be to do yourself, and it, a disservice. And just because it isn’t necessarily black metal, doesn’t mean that it isn’t any good.