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Varathron - His Majesty at the Swamp

Varathron - His Majesty at the Swamp
September 17, 2010, 08:41:02 AM
Does this album even really qualify as black metal in a strict sense? The aesthetics of the band move this into black metal, and I am sure they associated themselves with Norway's bands, but musically this has more in common with early Amorphis, Candlemass or Judas Priest than it does Darkthrone or any of the black metal bands emerging in Norway at the same time. Like Havohej and Profanatica, Varathron were a deathdoom band masquerading as black metal, except with heavy doses of heavy metal in the genre's greatest form.

Re: Varathron - His Majesty at the Swamp
September 17, 2010, 09:03:17 AM
To me Varathron fits in the same sub-sub-sub-genre as early Samael, and conveys a similar mood. I think that to qualify your statement, you need to say what black metal is, and then explain how Varathron doesn't meet your definition.

Re: Varathron - His Majesty at the Swamp
September 17, 2010, 09:12:54 AM
Good point. To me, to be black metal after 1991 or so you'd have to follow in Norway's foot-steps. On a musical level there isn't much here that derives directly from Norway as far as my ear can tell. My ear has been wrong before, but this is distilled directly from earlier influences, and doesn't approximate anything else in the black metal genre at the time.  What does define black metal then, if this is black metal? Is it strictly an aesthetic, cultural movement then?

Re: Varathron - His Majesty at the Swamp
September 17, 2010, 11:52:24 AM
Black metal didn't start in norway...

Caffeine

Re: Varathron - His Majesty at the Swamp
September 17, 2010, 03:36:57 PM
Black metal didn't start in norway...

Exactly, Norway gets all the credit.  Damn church burnings....

In all seriousness, when you've listened to Black Metal for a while immediately you'll realize the high amount of diversity that the genre contains.  The subgenre crap gets annoying; it isn't very useful nor accurate as so many brilliant musicians are able to break the confines of what is perceived as a genre.  In short, I'd just call Varathron black metal and get on with it. 

Re: Varathron - His Majesty at the Swamp
September 17, 2010, 05:45:13 PM
Black metal didn't start in norway...

Who said it did?

Clearly we're not going to deny that Norway truly speciated the genre off from death metal though?

Re: Varathron - His Majesty at the Swamp
September 17, 2010, 05:54:35 PM
Black metal didn't start in norway...

Exactly, Norway gets all the credit.  Damn church burnings....

In all seriousness, when you've listened to Black Metal for a while immediately you'll realize the high amount of diversity that the genre contains.  The subgenre crap gets annoying; it isn't very useful nor accurate as so many brilliant musicians are able to break the confines of what is perceived as a genre.  In short, I'd just call Varathron black metal and get on with it. 


I see your point, and normally genre squabbling and revisionism is not something I'd allow myself to partake in. But His Majesty at the Swamp just isn't really black metal, not in a musical sense. In reality, this album was a genre all to itself, as it truly escapes rigid classification.

"As much heavy metal as black metal, musically, on an artistic level this release discovers a mystical voice which remains unmatched."

Ironic that what sets this album apart as something great is the same thing that destroyed Dimmu Borgir by Enthrone Darkness Triumphant.

Re: Varathron - His Majesty at the Swamp
September 17, 2010, 05:58:39 PM
Every country has their own sound, rendition of black metal all across the globe.

Re: Varathron - His Majesty at the Swamp
September 17, 2010, 06:09:14 PM
I really wasn't looking for blanket "no shit" statements about the genre or it's history, I was looking affirmation that I'm not nuts when the riffs of Son of the Moon flows across my ears and it makes me want to listen to Incantation or Candlemass, and not Moonblood or Mutiilation.

Re: Varathron - His Majesty at the Swamp
September 17, 2010, 06:11:40 PM
Well, it has the black metal "feel" (not just the "sound" [aesthetics])

It is a great album.

There is one even stranger choice of band to put under Black Metal than varathron: Mercyful Fate

Re: Varathron - His Majesty at the Swamp
September 17, 2010, 08:27:08 PM
Well, it has the black metal "feel" (not just the "sound" [aesthetics])

It is a great album.

There is one even stranger choice of band to put under Black Metal than varathron: Mercyful Fate

Apples and oranges. Mercyful Fate is more black metal in context, to me.

Re: Varathron - His Majesty at the Swamp
September 18, 2010, 07:26:58 PM
"As much heavy metal as black metal, musically, on an artistic level this release discovers a mystical voice which remains unmatched."

Ironic that what sets this album apart as something great is the same thing that destroyed Dimmu Borgir by Enthrone Darkness Triumphant.

It seems the error is in the hands of the craftsman, not the craft.

Re: Varathron - His Majesty at the Swamp
September 18, 2010, 07:49:55 PM
"As much heavy metal as black metal, musically, on an artistic level this release discovers a mystical voice which remains unmatched."

Ironic that what sets this album apart as something great is the same thing that destroyed Dimmu Borgir by Enthrone Darkness Triumphant.

It seems the error is in the hands of the craftsman, not the craft.

Quite so. Take The Chasm for example. They may play an almost standard heavy/speed metal riff for a fraction of a minute and then utilise it to transcend to something that defies genre boundaries and delivers a stunning completeness to what went before.

Re: Varathron - His Majesty at the Swamp
September 18, 2010, 08:37:33 PM
Clearly we're not going to deny that Norway truly speciated the genre off from death metal though?

I won't. Hellhammer, Sarcofago, Merciless, Bathory et al were more like a metal version of Discharge/Amebix anyway.

Re: Varathron - His Majesty at the Swamp
September 18, 2010, 09:00:51 PM
Varathron is somewhat disconnected from both BM lineages on this album. You can't really say it evolved from the Venom>Sodom>Sarcofago>Blasphemy>Beherit line anymore than you can say it evolved from the Venom>Sodom>Sarcofago>Mayhem>Burzum line. This is further evidence that this album at it's core isn't black metal. It's a black metal mimic. It's heritage is death metal and doom metal. There is much, much more Candlemass working in Varathron than any other influences. But I think the argument that Varathron is black metal is the classic "sum of all parts". With Black Metal art, the intent is as important as how you arrived there. The nuts and bolts of Varathron may not have been black metal, but it's intention was in the spirit of black metal.

Still, for me, the album invokes just a different spirit than other black metal of the period. When I am in the mood for this album, I'm not necessarily in a black metal mood at all. It doesn't have the desperate fanaticism or feral hatred that is often found in black metal of this era.

It's truly a special album. One of those albums that nearly stumbled into it's own genre.