Black metal is Venus Anadyomene. She is death incarnate. She waits for her next victim. She preys on men and women, besotted by her beauty. Slowly, you approach her. Slowly she surrenders herself. In your arms she caresses your cheek with the back of her hand, Then, she sodomizes your ears. She rapes your soul. She is beautiful, but at an angle, the moonlight casts a glow on her true condition. She is death. Pluto, god of the underworld, sends her forth and awaits the many souls she claims with a kiss. Black metal is beautiful, and just like Venus, she’s capricious.
So is the black metal in this month’s black metal round-up, featuring three bands that play disparate styles of black metal I don’t often enjoy. However, given a serious listen, there’s no reason to dislike Saille, a symphonic black metal band; Underdark, who play a distinct style of black metal known by some as blackgaze; and a band named Alchimia, who play post-black metal describable as a cross between Lacuna Coil and Alcest. Read on…
Saille – Gnosis
Saille is quite a find. I’m not the biggest fan of symphonic black metal, but Saille plays some great riffs and the keyboard segments don’t overpower the metal sections. Gnosis tackles the concept of The Lucifer – Prometheus analogy, and the lyrics may not be clear enough to get a distinct idea of the conceptualization at work, but the music on Gnosis is stellar, and Gnosis has convinced me to check out Saille’s other releases. Great effort. Metal fans will easily like Gnosis, provided your ears aren’t saturated with hipster metal.
Underdark – Mourning Cloak
Deafheaven must be an inspiration to Underdark. The screamo vocals may turn away most underground metallers, but an open mind never comes with every album in metal, so do yourself a favor and listen before you pass judgment. Underdark plays some melancholic ambient sections at times and the blast sections are rife with good melodies. Not quite as undisputedly beautiful as any of Deafheaven’s releases, Mourning Cloak still reveals Underdark as a band with plenty of potential. Blackgaze fans should take a listen.
Alchimia – Musa
Alchimia doesn’t cop Alcest, nor do they play groove-laden alt metal riffs like Lacuna Coil, but what we have in Musa is a merging of both styles. They play chugging alt metal a la Lacuna Coil and soft butterfly lead sections the way Alcest does. There might be some merit to early Varathron comparisons, but they don’t play raw Greek black metal for the majority of Musa. If you like clean guitar melodies with some chugging riffs for balance, try this album and support an underground band that needs every bit of it.
Black metal is evolving in several different directions. Bands are suffusing disparate elements, all influential, all legitimately sound mutations of the original style. Purists may argue for minimalist second wave black metal dominance in the late nineties as the purest strain black metal embodies, but music will evolve regardless of preconceived notions, and this latest round-up aims to act as a bridge for people to cross that wide disparity with open-mindedness. Don’t be afraid to offend self-proclaimed purists. What’s at stake? The survival of black metal as a multiversal genre, and the survival of metal in general.