Dusk-Bound

The success of endeavors that carry with them the implication of development or transformation, such as the evolution of an artistic genre (without any relation to the ‘progress’ of dialectical materialism), requires the constant testing of strength, the crossing of one’s boundaries. Contrary to the beliefs of the simple minded, this does not mean that the act of crossing those lines is in itself enough for a fully-formed conclusion to be presented, although there is indeed great value in violation itself. But one could argue that the great weapons of the mind, enacted, come as a result of a full digestion and re-application of invaluable experience and information that comes from the crude testing of strength, directed towards the intuited limits of the yet unexplored.
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Trendkillers #2: Blast Beats Must Die!

The blast beat has had a very unlikely journey through its relatively young lifespan in music.  Rooted in a jazz technique of an alternating bass drum/hi-hat and snare 16th note pattern (though played at much slower tempo in jazz music), it found a unique identity in the early 1980s when underground hardcore punk bands like Siege and Asocial began using it at aggressive speeds to enhance their violent bursts of rebellion.  This made it a close friend of metal when the middle of the decade saw a fledgling death metal movement getting its hands dirty with hardcore punk speed and sound in an effort to push its own extremity.  Over the next 15 years, several drummers would rise to prominence with their clever use of the blast beat to either push these combinations to extreme speeds or to utilize them enduringly for an effect similar to trance music.  Suddenly, every metal band that wanted to play fast or play simplistically HAD to play blast beats, and we eventually reached a point where blast beats were the most dominant part of every death and black metal song’s drum composition.

For the future of death and black metal to establish themselves distinctively, they must abandon what has become routine and keep only what is necessary to preserve their underlying spirit.  And with this understanding comes an unfortunate truth- the beloved blast beat must be laid to rest, so that new life in metal can grow.
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Somber Lands: The Harmonic Minor Scale

Dark, brooding, and long cloaked in obscurity, the harmonic minor scale is a compelling collective of notes that has historically been used as an accent to minor key compositions.  For centuries only a handful of pieces had been written within its bounds as composers instead opted to weave in for a number of measures before an eventual progression into the natural minor scale.  From there it appeared again in a few folk songs, took a strong spiritual presence in Islamic culture, and later became an integral part of horror movies when they progressed into the frightening mediums they became in the 1970s.  But it wasn’t until the musicians of the early Swedish death metal scene discovered how to fully harness the scale’s potential that lengthy songs and even the majority of some albums began being composed within its bounds.  A truly grotesque wedlock, the scale gave he who wielded it the power to craft the most sinister and foreboding compositions possible within the laws of music.  It is for this reason one could attest that the minor harmonic scale has found a home in heavy metal that no other genre of music could provide.
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Elegiac Black Clouds of War 2018

Elegiac is a one man band from California formed in 2014 by sole composer Zane Young, whom has released a large number of records under the name of Elegiac- far too much for any band yet alone a one man band.  Like many bands of this generation, Elegiac play a basic form of black metal that can be described as the bastard child of Bathory, Satanic Warmaster and generic modern rock.  This is not what one expects from USBM at all despite their promo toting this release as the return of the micro genre’s glory days.
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An Overview of Inquisition

 

Introduction

Known around these parts as a blackened heavy rock n’ roll band, Inquisition’s brand of black metal is produced by a high-energy application of black metal riffing with a heavy rock rhythmic sense, but within the riff salad paradigm. The result are relatively varied and outstretched songs that tend to tire the ear even though their duration is not very long. The variety of these riffs is also more apparent than effective, since they are all heavily anchored around a sense of rhythmic hooks and black metal tremolo technique, never really straying away from it.

Despite these serious technical deficiencies, we hear a band marching against wind and tide towards their evil, propaganda. Producing a music that is, to those used to bask in the consumate musical glory of Immortal, somewhat of a quaint laughing matter. Despite all of this, if even these listeners lie back and allow the music to well-up, Inquisition manage to be one of the most strongly evocative black metal acts out there today, even if exclussively by dint of the effects of their croak n’ roll black riff train without heads or tails.

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Star Wars: Tie Fighter 1994 LucasArts

Throughout literature, film, and any other telling of the Arthurian legend there is usually a hard line stance taken on characters or ideas being indisputably good or evil.  The heroes and villains are on conflicting sides of a fundamental and absolute morality despite reality often being much more complicated.  The Star Wars franchise followed this school of thought- casting the Empire as the evil and soulless reflection of Western history’s teaching of the axis powers of World War II.  It parallels the post-French Revolution narrative that all democracy is good and all imperial reigns are heinous and wrong.

It is because of this that we can remember LucasArts’s 1994 PC flight simulator Tie Fighter as such a refreshingly bold and surprising experiment in a world of video games where the narrative is always fixated on “the good guys.”  In Tie fighter, you are- from start to finish- fighting on behalf of a faction that the movies portrayed as dark and merciless dictatorship that is completely void of humanity.  No change of heart in your character halfway through (as in this year’s disastrous Battlefront 2), no surprising twist- you’re essentially waging war with all that is good and just in the galaxy.  It’s one of the first and possibly few games that take this perspective, and – for one of the first times for a mainstream game of this caliber-  Tie Fighter gives the player a unique chance to embrace the understanding that morality is often a form of perspective.

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Metal Vocals are Obstructive.  Remove them.

There are many well cultured intellectuals who, when presented with metal music, will immediately be tuned out by the vocals.  This results in much of the metal collective being comprised of hold-my-beer normies and most of the world’s high IQ population never grasping a music genre that has both the depth and the complexity they yearn for.  Moreover, vocals in metal have not progressed AT ALL since the 1990s and therefore vocalists have been rendered indistinguishable from one another.  Through this understanding comes the ultimate revelation:  metal vocals, more than any other factor, are hindering the next great wave of metal. 

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Nortt- Endeligt (2017)

After a decade of nothingness and decay, Denmark’s Nortt re-emerges in the form of a third full length on pt. 2 of the Avantgarde Music canon (the rock n’ roll/new wave edition). Rising to prominence in the early days of the suicidal black metal wave but vanishing just as the Thy Lights and Nocturnal Depressions of those days brought the movement to self-parody black and white Myspace-metal, Nortt returns to a world that has mostly forgotten their existence. As fate has seen their fellow Total Holocaust Records peers of that time fall into the pits of post-rock (Hypothermia), drug addiction (Nachtmystium), or straight up oblivion (Blodulv), will Nortt’s funeral doom foundation lead to a more desirable outcome?
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