Article by Doron Rosenberg
The present is the final compilation of all music released by “NSBM” band Kristallnacht. The importance of this release lies entirely on the fact that it is one of the few acts coming from said ideological background with any artistic merit at all. That said, Kristallnacht was always a band of modest musical means, making up for it with a subtle talent for suggestive melodies in lullaby-like triplet feels. As is “tradition” within these circles, the music aims at the formation of axis between melancholic longing, mystic elevation and disenfranchised anger. These are deeply connected to point of origin of everything that underlies the movement, explaining the very limited, usually embarrassingly poor resulting art —to which projects like Kristallnacht or Fanisk are an exception.
To begin with, we must clarify that so-called “NSBM” is nothing more than a simple, melody-driven black metal of short and repetitive phrases usually played with power chords. The characteristic structures are also cyclic and concentrate on etching the impression of the melodies pathos on the mind of the listener, while the voice contrasts this yet is supported by the aggression of the playing and the heaviness of the drums. Percussion is intense, but not in the sense of loudness or complexity, but rather the comparative effect they have within the music, and it is from this relative significance attained by context that they become properly ‘heavy’.
The very limitations that entrap crossover thrash or grindcore, also enclose this illusory mini-style of black metal. What Kristallnacht compiles in Blooddrenched Memorial encompasses the best that we would be able to find anywhere in the genre. We must again allude to Fanisk as an exception, because their style differs from the norm of what has musically fitted into “NSBM,” escaping its clutches by a far more developed sense of melody and composition —as seen in their underground “masterpiece” Noontide (2003). Musically, there is a tendency to lump the black metal miniaturization of Kristallnacht with Oi! and RAC. In truth, these belong to distinct musical genres, and as such, mixtures fall into one or other genre (with Infamous falling on the black metal side).
Kristallnacht itself stands completely on the talent of the artist, and these are veritable folk-like songs played in the style of black metal. The band’s great feat is to have remained black metal through and through, not only in instrumentation but in the details of techniques and melodic orientation. Whereas many other “NSBM” bands are crippled by folky guitar mannerisms, Kristallnacht channels a transformed aggression from the unadultered hate-and-destruction releases such as Uranium 235 Total Annihilation (1995). Independently of whether its views are favored or not, the listening experience is satisfying —while not overwhelming— if a sense of stupor and vague melancholy is sought by idealistic outsiders. By virtue of its origins and realization, it can never arise to the occassion as battle-inspiring music, and even less so as a transcendental transportation of the soul.