In view of our recent emphasis on the fact that post-1994 metal landscape is a desert of creativity with very few well-realized projects, most of which were pretty underground efforts. By the turn of the century, death and black metal aesthetics had been absorbed into the mainstream mindset and so we can not automatically consider bands with said genre tags as underground. But the ones recommended below are, indeed, high-quality efforts (in the way of music writing) that were never hyped to any wide audience.
The turn of the century itself was one of the darkest moments in metal history when there was no relevant innovation being worked into metal. In place, a superficial re-mixing of styles done by the thousands became the obsession of scenes. Something had happened: Metal had reached its young adult life. Until now, childish enthusiasm and creativity had been enough for it to keep making discoveries. A spirit of rebellion had propelled it in the search for a deeper romantic meaning that drove it forward. Once this bottomed out with with mid-nineties albums by projects like Burzum, Ildjarn and Summoning, it was evident that metal would have to rely on a refinement of its technical approach that could keep feeding the aesthetics needs of its spirit.
In the following recommendations, we have thrown some worthwhile non-metal releases that are also strongly recommended. The reader is encouraged to explore each of these with all their attention and in reflection of the trails that the golden era left that are only in recent years fully crystallizing into promising proposals for a real re-start and future based on the previously mentioned refinement applied to a study and digestion of the older spirit in order for the genre to continue. This future is precisely what metal needs and not a return to anything. The past is the past. Metal must look ever ahead if it is to be an artistic movement with life. This post is in part to honor those releases and to offer a glimmer of hope that although metal is suffocated, it is not dead.
Summoning – Stronghold (1999)
Mütiilation – Remains of A Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul (1999)
Worship – Last Tape Before Doomsday (1999)
Tenhi – Kauan (1999)
Jordi Savall & Ton Koopman – J.S. Bach, Die Sonaten Für Viola Da Gamba Und Cembalo (2000)
Paysage D’Hiver – Paysage d’Hiver (2000)
Antaeus – Cut Your Flesh and Worship Satan (2000)
Immolation – Close to a World Below (2000)
Gorguts – From Wisdom to Hate (2001)
Tags: Antaeus, gorguts, immolation, Jordi Savall, mütiilation, paysage d'hiver, Tenhi, Worship
36 thoughts on “Miscellaneous Turn-of-the-Century-ish Recommendations”
Paysage D’Hiver was flamed as hipster shit somewhere on the Metal Hall forum, even Kontinual or Conservationist stated this band was cock-sucking drivel for botanist queers.
Well, you can go on worshiping authorities or you can think for yourself and explore.
Writers here reserve the privilege of having differences of opinion.
Yeah i gues it’s the opeth and panetera fans´prerrogative too!
Could you elaborate on this? It seems like there’s quite a bit of difference between “hipster shit” and “strongly recommended”, especially considering DMU’s views on quality music.
We differ in where we draw the line between extended atmospheric passages and hipster nonsense, I guess.
Frankly, I think there is a clear line, and I draw it musically by looking at how things are used in context. Not sure how Brett is drawing the line, probably a more abstract concept.
We still hold opposite opinions regarding Fanisk’s Noontide.
Thanks for the response, David. I still don’t know where this falls between “difference of opinion” and “I like/don’t like it”. I haven’t read extensive reviews on either Paysage D’Hiver or Fanisk from the DMU (I was just going by Anihilatorr’s assertion that the former album was shit on at some previous point). I’d like to hear Brett’s thoughts on this, also.
On subjective/objective generally: there is no subjective, only illusion.
On the two bands mentioned: disorganized.
Brett wrote a review on Noontide https://www.deathmetal.org/news/fanisk-noontide/
But in my view, it pays too little attention to the music which cannot be really digested in listening to half of the album once.
This one takes patience and it is debatable whether or not it should be seen as entirely metal.
Also, does “extended atmospheric passages” include stuff like Burzum’s mid-period albums, or does this just refer to things that rely exclusively on atmosphere?
I think on Noontide, there is no empty atmospheric nonsense. IT builds completely like classical music, each part is a connection to somewhere or a place itself. Each ¨synthy¨ part is connected by theme. Thing is, they don´t rush it, in fact, the development can be very slow, but it´s always present. Once you slow-catch down to its pace and really listen to it, and you pay attention, it´s there.
The other thing that is a problem for metalheads is that the sound ¨flavor¨ or quality of the instruments does not feel real at all and can come off as thin and artificial. The guitars, synth, drums vocals are all ¨horrible¨ and have no thickness.
But those are points less in the overall points of a final product. As music, those things really do not get in my way to judge the composition apart from that…
Thanks for the responses. I’m going to check both of these out. “Noontide” seems like it will be interesting, at least.
If Paysage d’Hiver is cock-sucking drivel then I for one welcome this Hipster Botanist overlord… into my mouth. Yummy.
Tenhi seemed as hollow as Ulver. One of the songs sounded like Katatonia with different instrumentation.
Tenhi is not metal, nor are they pretending to be metal like Ulver. It’s neo folk music, and better than the vast majority of metal at that. Context, man, context.
I was comparing it to the Ulver neo-folk album. Would you say it’s better than most neo-folk though?
Most of what I’ve heard, but I do not consider myself incredibly well-versed. Besides, admittedly, I am going to a phase of self-challenge, so I am not judging everything on strict structural arrangement… Well, I already thought not all music should be judged by the standards of metal, to begin with, the Tenhi is thrown in to shake that perspective up a bit. Also, I don’t think the Bach by Savall and the other guy should be seen like metal either.
What’s your take on Worship? I get such different vibes from that album than Skepticism or Thergothon, which offer glimmers of hope and solace. “Last tape…” is the most accurate musical depiction of depression I know.
With Worship, Last Tape for Doomsday is all and the best they had to give. It’s the intuitive material that reveals a pure emotion and atmosphere. The rest is self-referential. Same is true of Skepticism, actually. Only Alloy escapes this in excellence, but there is a hint of “trying to be Skepticism” in it that is a little annoying.
Worship is absolutely terrible and I dont understand how it has been getting positive mentions here. This band is a fraud partially in the vein of Thergothon only much worse. It has that particular doom metal sparseness that comes out of no ideas and shit riffs.
Thergothon… If you look beyond the metal surface, Stream from the Heavens is written more from the perspective of a 4ad band. According to the Decibel interview they became bored of metal and planned on playing their album clean but decided not to out of fear, inexperience, studio costs, etc. I think they should have refocused their perspective and record the album they really wanted to. It gets called inaccessible, but their slow metal/indie with bad growling is just awkward more than anything. It shouldn’t really surprise anyone when hearing their follow up The Cure worship band. Still, they have their moments.
Very shitty period overall if Lykathea Aflame was one of the better records from 1999-2001.
Time to try to get into Summoning again… They bore me to tears but there’s a spark in somewhere in them I can’t ignore.
The older stuff bores me. Oathbound is the only album I can really get into – strongest melodies imo.
Sorcier des Glaces – Snowland
Adramelech – Pure Blood Doom
Good ones, too
Demoncy – Joined In Darkness
Acerbus – Emanating Darkness
Disciples Of Mockery – Prelude To Apocalypse (?)
Thanks! Will review the first two and…. what about the last?
Just wasn’t sure if it’s worth the list.
You guys have already said a lot about Demoncy and “Joined in Darkness” especially, but I guess it was Brett.
Well, I meant “review” as in “go over them again”, not as in “writing a review”, haha
Arghoslent stand out for me as one of the best of this period
I’d say they aren’t the best in any period or in anything. But they’re fun (and funny).
The good Arghoslent stuff (the Arsenal of Glory demo and Galloping Through the Battle Ruins LP) is from the mid 90s. Later Arghoslent has way too much super cheese bluesy guitar wank leads and overlong songs but the riffs are still great. Nobody riffs like Pogrom except for Running Wild.
Well, Oct. ’98 isn’t exactly mid-90’s.
Their first two LPs pack more quality riffs into a single song than most lesser bands manage in an entire album and also coincide with said ‘turn-of-the-century-ish’ period.
I’ve never understood the appeal of Mutiilation. To me, it sounds like the conditions that actually gave rise to the project, those conditions being: heroin addiction (the worst kind of drug use), clinical depression, social alienation of the worst kind, and (I am guessing on this one) musical incompetence.
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