Album Review: Wrekmeister Harmonies – “Light Falls”

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Abstraction can be a powerful tool to cut through structure and tradition to convey distilled human expression. It can be argued that too heavy a hand in this direction can make a work inaccessible, but when handled deftly, abstract art, performance, and music can reveal a universality of experience that transcends chronological, geographical, and even cultural boundaries. With its ties to mathematics and theory, music is perhaps the most inherently abstract of all art forms, yet the power of music to evoke powerful emotions is a cross-cultural phenomenon. Certain songs have been credited with causing suicide and specific note progressions are said to be created by the devil himself. When musicians eschew traditional forms of music and experiment with the range of sounds at their disposal, the results are by their nature unpredictable, but exploring the road less traveled can lead to moments of powerful emotional connection. Continue reading

Album Review: Imperium Dekadenz – “Dis Manibvs”

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One of the elements missing from a lot of the writing on black metal is an acknowledgement of the nostalgia that underpins much of the genre. Whether it’s a yearning for a lost golden age of one’s culture, a disgust with modern conventions, or an invocation of a more primal, naturalistic state, black metal sets its gaze towards the past. Perhaps no culture has a greater understanding of the psychological complexities of nostalgia than the Germans. Their language contains words untranslatable into English, like weltschmerz (an emotional exhaustion brought on by knowing that the world can never live up to the promise of the imagination) and sehnsucht (impossible yearning for something achingly familiar that may not actually exist). With this in mind, it makes sense that German black metal amplifies the genre’s already-present nostalgic quality, creating a uniquely identifiable sound that’s both mournful and epic. Continue reading

Stygian Imagery: That Time Rob Zombie Co-wrote a Bigfoot Comic

Oh dear.
Oh dear.

There’s a good chance that if you’re under the age of 35, you’ve never found Bigfoot to be scary. If you think about the legendary North American ape-man at all, it’s probably as a gentle giant, “protector of the forests” type character thanks to the famous cryptid’s 1980s rebranding to bring him into line with evolving thought on ecological conservation and empathy for Native American culture. For children of the 1970s, however, Bigfoot has a dark side. He is a terrifying, nocturnal beast with massive strength and a human-like cunning that stalked those unwise enough to enter his arboreal territory. Oh, and… how to put this delicately? I guess I can’t, so I’ll rip the Band-Aid off: Bigfoot’s dark side had a rapey side. What can I say? The 1970s were a weird time. Continue reading

Album Review: Myrkur – Mausoleum

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I don’t make it a secret that my personal tastes veer towards the “more is more” school of aesthetics. That which is grimy, filthy, and dangerous should be very much so and that which is lush, beautiful, and decorative should be positively overwhelming. All of this puts me in a strange place when considering the work of Myrkur, the bizarrely controversial metal project of Danish musician Amalie Bruun. Her 2015 full-length album, M, garnered no small amount of attention as being “the next evolution of black metal,” always a dangerous marketing tactic given the anti-modernist stance of that particular genre. Continue reading

Clark Ashton Smith’s “Inferno,” Read by S.T. Joshi, Sound by Theologian

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We have seen the nightmares
Winging down the sky,
Bat-like and silent,
To where the sleepers lie;
We have seen the bosoms Of the succubi.

We have seen the crystal
Of dead Medusa’s tears.
We have watched the undines
That wane in stagnant weirs,
And mandrakes madly dancing
By black, blood-swollen meres.

–From “Nyctalops” by Clark Ashton Smith Continue reading