I’ve been writing about metal for close to 4 years now. But hopefully I believe I did so without the false air of journalism that is usually attached to it. Most of us after all write what we write in the spirit of sharing good music. Being the good Samaritan. Or is it? Pretenders of the idea of a gift economy, the internet, perhaps? Writing monetarily uncompensated balderdash for the general good but indirectly watering the hope of a metal credo to take root? Maybe to fill those large gaps in our bogus job resumes while we in reality live out mostly uneventful lives?
Frankly all those does befit why I took to writing in the first place. A general sense of loss and listlessness in life accompanied by an unprecedented amount of time. Truly a deathly concoction.
And yet it has been an exhaustive hobby, so much so that the basic enjoyment was subconsciously relegated into the realm of routine work. To add to that there was this constant obligation to stay updated with the goings-on in the metalsphere and an ever looming shadow of the need to be ‘politically correct’, to appease both the old school and new school audience, revealed a sense of conformity to the larger picture. Both were self deprecating to say the least.
And yet the worst of it all was this sense of musical overload and the subsequent numbing that took hold, mostly sparked by the rather insurmountable need to listen to everything that came out any given year. It was not long before I found most new metal to be uninspiring to say the least. Bands releasing singles that seduced the listener just to be left scraping the floor in boredom, once the new album was lend an ear to. These singles turned out to be like those archetypal Hollywood action flick trailers, which had the best parts of the movie crammed into under 3 minutes, while the movie in its entirety revealed nothing more than a snore-able drab. Listening to music each year was an exercise in superfluity with the idea of carving up your most unique ‘best of year’ lists was always there. I found it to be a part of my own need of self-posturing, pathetic as it may seem.
The burnout was inevitable, exacerbated by a social life that was slowly losing ground and spiralling into the depths of reclusion. I wanted out. Not on the music, but rather on the commodifying nature of the requirement that my chosen leisure thrust upon me. I wanted out to breathe once again and truly enjoy the music, but at my own demand.
After several months in let’s say much needed mental flushing out? I am finally finding inspiration to write about a few artists who’ve been tickling my senses off late. The ones that cause your fMRI scan to light up like a Christmas tree.
And once again as I embark on this miserable voyage called life with the gathering darkness waiting to envelope, the only solace is that of the diffused light that this lonely star sheds on me. Distant and yet comforting.. The star of steel that reflects your own light. Metal… saved thee.
Out of all the genres, Black metal seems more primed to experimentation. And there is no better place to see this at work than Greece. Despite having second wavers like Zemial, Ravencult and Dodsferd in their ranks, it’s the more ‘out of the box’ line that bands like Aenaon, Hail Spirit Noir and Thy Darkened Shade take that has my spine tingled. Macabre Omen is a further testament to that fact. Although formed when the Norwegian tinged second wave was ruling the roost, they are a legitimate alterbeast all unto themselves. The title song from their sophomore effort is a tentacled war chant, meticulously honed to slaughter foes by the hundreds. Folky melodies glazed in thick Hellenic ooze leave a certain grandeur aftertaste which evoke man’s primal spirit to step forth into battle. Unfurl the banners!
Their last release and my initiation into the band, ‘The Bat, The Wheel And a Long Road to Nowhere’, was in my eyes frankly a wasted opportunity. Barring a few great songs that stayed monstrous, the album put itself out by constantly haranguing their own sound. So much so the wall of redundancy collapsed in on them. But their third offering ‘Silk Spiders Underwater’ seems poised for a reassessment. Their sound, a kind of mutated gargantuan sludge with several theatrical accompaniments is truly I believe all their own. Lead single ‘Bleeding Island’ will never cease to cudgel your skull long after all semblance of life has left your body.
Secrets of the Sky
Now this is a band I have been closely following, right from their debut in 2013 that extolled the virtues of the lovecraftian mythos. Sometimes directly picking lines from his work and threading them to the larger lyrical picture. They neatly sidestep genre pigeon-holing (almost a fad these days) as they borrow deftly from black and doom inasmuch they don’t belong to either. Garett Gazay’s hums, croons and belching roars come to haunt the desolate landscape laid out by the stellar instrumentation. It’s a travesty that this band is less talked about, but then it is probably a deliberate decision by themselves. The obscurity makes them a shrine to the elder gods hewn out of the purest of malachite deep within the Amazonian hinterland. Wearing a guise of decrepitude and yet standing tall and undaunted.
Their second offering ‘Pathway’ has just offloaded their first single ‘Three Swords’ which truly captures the entire breadth of the band’s capability.