For those who have enjoyed our reviews of black metal band Infamous, it may be good news that the first two releases — the Of Solitude and Silence full-length and Abisso mCD — are available at great discount here in the USA.
Black metal like most underground metal compares to Romantic art because it has a passion for nature, the raw power of the universe and the emotions which are true in the human being. This inherently rejects the false madness of the madding crowd but most fans of Romantic literature never get to that phase and translate its meaning into nature fetishism and self-pity. Infamous restore the Romanticism to metal with a dark nature worship album that preserves the savage beauty of this genre.
Deriving its basic approach from what can only be described as the more ambitious early Ancient compositions applied to the thematic material of early Enslaved, albeit translated to a country far from the frozen north, Of Solitude and Silence drops into a lush series of melodies that maintain distinctive shape and expression in both rhythm and tone, allowing Infamous to weave songs of multiple contrasting themes that conclude in a beautiful rising of mood from within. These are outright sentimental, like work from Graveland, Sorcier des Glaces or Immortal on Pure Holocaust, but if you can get over that vulnerable yet accessible and stately violent emotion, much excellent songwriting is found therein. Infamous primarily rely on the renowned black metal high speed tremolo strum overly slowly changing drum patterns, aided by reverb and closet-muffled production in achieving its atmospheric ends, but the strength of each song comes from the ability to put riffs together in a coherent form which nonetheless maintains internal contrast to create the sensation of motion and change outside the individual, which is where the essence of the black metal sound (and Romantic poetry) originates.
Instrumentation takes a path for simple but effective, with guitars avoiding complex technique in favor of complex riffs of basic power chords and arpeggiated chords at a slower polyrhythmic strum. At some point, this drummer has listened to a fair amount of hardcore or Oi, possibly even verging into Ildjarn-worship. But the essence of this release remains the flowing longer instrumentals of early black metal experimentation, a source of great potential it never followed up on, and by indulging these in a layered sense of emotion Infamous creates an entirely transporting musical journey. While this one fell off the radar for most of us, it presents one of the more capable and visionary concepts of black metal after the first wave from Norway.
Extending further into the past, and lying in deeper recesses of mystery, are the cults and legends of the ancient Pelasgians. Their symbols, gods and myths included precede, and in a way bring forth the Hellenic , while remaining in a relative obscurity even when the cults were known to be active . Among these obscure cults was that of the Kábeiroi (a.k.a. Cabiri), a group of unknown but powerful beings tracing lineage to Rhea —The feminine Titan of Saturn — and to the vast Sea . (more…)
Immolation are legends in Death metal and rightfully so, though their heydays were after the initial burst that characterized the NYDM scene and have cemented their place with the likes of Cryptopsy and Immortal for prolonging the lifespan of that classic period of metal. Longevity seems to be the forte of the band’s centerpieces Dolan and Vigna and while they released a few decent albums, none of them quite hold up to Here in After. Black Sabbath and Slayer stretched the palette for what was possible in metal and introduced endless possibilities whereas Immolation took one closed approach and pushed it to its limit on this album. Though Close To A World Below took experimentation further, the whole was not as cohesive or powerful. Let us look as the closing track which truly concludes the album.
I enjoy camping. Solitude. Enjoying primitive conditions. Witnessing the power and beauty of nature. It helps one keep a good Hessian frame of mind. I try to go as often as is possible and there is one location near me that I frequent rather often. After a bit of a drive over old logging roads through the hills I stop and pull my car off the side of the road and put on my pack and get my rifle at port arms. To get to my favoured camping area it is a 5 mile hike that for a short while follows an abandoned narrow-gauge railroad that some logging company built to expedite the extraction of resources from the area many years back. The place I like to set up camp is a tiny, elevated clearing in the pine trees next to a small creek from which I can get water. The area is a temperate rain forest of sorts, so there are 3-6 foot tall ferns everywhere, and in old-growth areas that have not fallen prey to logging, you can see the triple-canopy growth that is common to all rain forests. However, most of the forests around have been logged at some point so this sight is rare. I use a small shovel or a machete to clear out the ferns so I have a nice place to build a camp fire and an area to lay out my sleeping bag. The chopped down ferns double as a nice mattress.
Now here is a recording I am really quite enjoying, by Lousberg. This captures the spirit of the desolate winter-time, but not in a dreary way. Rather, the elegance of nature shines through. Low drones set the landscape, while tip-toing keyboard patches enunciate the mid and higher ranges. This has a nice balance between droning and suggesting a melody, which does a very nice job creating a virtual landscape. I prefer this to the other black metal I saw on this label such as Goat Semen, which was pretty cool too, since it reminded me of Norz Norz Norz. There is a sophistication to this particular composition, which reminds me of Maurice Jarre’s score to Runaway Train, which is a wintertime classic. Also, the Mosquito Coast, about leaving society for nature, is another majestic score by Jarre that this harkens. It seems easy to the passive listener to create such an album. As a keyboardist myself, I can tell you that it actually takes a lot of inspiration to write an album like this.
In a recent blog post, Celtic Frost vocalist/guitarist Tom G. Warrior has publicly disowned BMG’s upcoming double CD reissues of his band’s best output, Morbid Tales and To Mega Therion, and the more pandering and spotty Into the Pandemoniumand Vanity / Nemesis. The embarrassing Cold Lake was omitted at Warrior’s request. While initially on board with the reissues and involved with the creative process, Tom Warrior has abandoned ship because the commercial mega-label BMG refused to print his linear notes as he intended. This blatant censorship was a means of preserving the integrity of the Noise Records liquid assets purchased by the label but had inadvertently overwhelmed the Cold Laker with a plethora of painful flashbacks of the corporate influence that plagued Celtic Frost throughout its existence.
The following is a short list of black metal releases (with a commentary on each) that would general fall off the edge of the usual stylistic lines that Death Metal Underground follows when looking at genre releases. These are all exceptional and form part of what could, in hindsight, be described as the lone wolves of an established and matured black metal genre — generally unnoticed or passed by without receiving substantial attention among the waves of excess of the 21st century; treasures hidden in plain sight for those with a developed sense beyond mere form.