Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Wulf's Official Response to Decibel Magazine's Top 100 Black Metal Albums (part 5)

60.   "Over Bjoergvin Graater Himmerik" - Taake

I've actually never listened to Taake that much, which is surprising because usually I'm all over bands that are considered somewhat eccentric or have an heir of controversy surrounding them.   I haven't heard this particular album, but I remember listening to the one before it (1999's "Nattestid Ser Porten Vid") and enjoying it, especially the brilliant first track "Vid I", one of my favorite black metal songs of all time!!  Anyway, Hoest seems to have calmed down over the years as far as shock value goes, but that doesn't mean I still shouldn't check out more of his stuff!!

59.   "Enthrone Darkness Triumphant" - Dimmu Borgir

YEAH!!!  Haters gonna hate (it's been said a million times, but Jesus Christ that fucking top hat), but for me this is one of my favorite black metal albums of all time.  Dimmu Borgir, like so many of us who spent most of our teenage years in the early 2000s, was my gateway band into extreme metal.  When I was about 15 I was really into bands like Tool, Incubus, Slipknot, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers...at the time my friend Brad (see Accursed Wound) was really into Cannibal Corpse, and I remember thinking they were the most extreme shit I had ever heard in my life and couldn't understand why anyone would listen to that sort of thing.  Anyway, my metal journey began when I stumbled across an interview with Dimmu Borgir in Revolver...they were promoting their hugely successful "Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia" album at the time, and I remember being intrigued by their image and "black metal" as an actual subgenre of heavy metal.  Really brutal, yet melodic heavy metal with an ORCHESTRA??  I had really enjoyed Metallica's "S&M" album, so I thought this could be really cool.  I downloaded a few Dimmu songs off of Kazaa (lol), and even though I initially started exploring extreme metal as a goof because I thought it was so absurd, it wasn't until I read Lords of Chaos a few months later that I really went off the deep end and never looked back.  
Anyway, though they're ridiculed and mocked by almost everyone nowadays and haven't put out a killer album in awhile, these guys will always have a place in my heart.  As for this album, it's definitely their best, although "Puritanical...", "Death Cult Armageddon", and even the original "Stormblast" are great too!!  What gets me is the sheer evil, ominous atmosphere and beautiful melodies that are completely in your face from the moment you start listening.  It's so completely, unapologetically cheesy and melodramatic, yet infectious and catchy at the same time, that it's easily one of the most fun and accessible albums on this list.  
If you combined the atmospheric keyboards of Emperor, the simplicity of Dark Funeral, and the Gothic imagery and over-the-top theatrics of Cradle of Filth, then you get these bros.  Highly, highly recommended as a good starting point into the genre, even if it isn't the most "kvlt" band in the world.

dat top hat

58.   "Fallen Angel of Doom" - Blasphemy

Before I write about this band, bear with me for a second because I'm still in nostalgia mode after writing about my early days of metal exploration (see above).  Y'see, after checking out Dimmu Borgir I realized that this was the kind of music I had been waiting to hear all my life, and that I was on the verge of something I knew would be a lifelong passion.  However, I didn't know where to start after Dimmu Borgir.  After talking with Judge Dredd (the only guy I knew at the time who was really into this shit) and getting a quick introduction on the different metal subgenres and that sort of thing, I decided to go to the local Hastings and check out some of the metal magazines that I had seen when looking for my shitty rock magazines like Hit Parader, Circus, Revolver, etc. (I also used to be really into Spin haha).  I was staying at my grandma's house that night, and after buying Ill Literature (the last issue too, R.I.P.!!) I stayed up all night, circling with a pen all the bands that seemed cool and that I would want to check out later.  It ended up being a great purchase too in that respect, because it's from that magazine that would influence my first metal CD purchases- Agalloch's "Pale Folklore" and "Of Stone, Wind, and Pillor" EP, Ancient Rites' "Dim Carcosa", and Dimmu Borgir's "Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia".   Anyway, the reason I'm going into all this back story is because one of the bands I read about in the reviews was Conqueror, a side project of one of Blasphemy's guitarists Ryan Förster (DeathLörd of Abomination & War Apocalypse).  In this review it described Conqueror as something like "unholy, devastating, Christ-raping black metal" or something like that, which really blew my mind as a 15 year-old.  Because I was raised Catholic, at the time the anti-Christian and Satanic lyrical themes of extreme metal had always made me a bit uneasy.  Obviously now that kind of thing doesn't bother me at all (as I'm not religious at all and am almost completely desensitized to anything metal can throw at us nowadays), but as I read about Conqueror it really opened my eyes (I hadn't read Lords of Chaos yet).  
Still haven't yet checked out Conqueror or Blasphemy, but I definitely will in the near future!!

57.   "Below the Lights" - Enslaved

When I first heard this album, I wasn't ready for it.  It was almost 11 years ago and I was still just getting into black metal and discovering bands like Emperor, (early) Ulver, and Immortal, so shit like this was just too weird for me.  I probably would have enjoyed Enslaved's first few albums (of that period, "Eld" is still my favorite), but this was a bit much as far as not quite being aggressive or cheesy for my tastes.  Judge Dredd dug it though!!  I should come back and give this album a listen, as I think Enslaved's later, progressive albums are great!

56.   "In Umbra Malitae Ambulabo, In Aeternum In Triumpho Tenebrarum" - Abruptum  

Ahh Abruptum.  So much mystery surrounding this goofy band and their goofy albums...Did they really record these albums during bouts of self-mutilation and altered consciousness??  What was Tony Särkkä's deal (IT?? C'mon...)??  Were they actually serious (Vondur, anyone??)??
I've never actually given this album a listen, so I probably should before I make fun of them, but we used to play "Evil Genius" and Vondur's "The Galactic Rock'n'Roll Empire" EP on the radio show sometimes for a goof and I remember not being able to take it seriously at all.  
We may never know what they're deal was...I feel like even if Särkkä ever does actually publish that book he's been working on, it will probably just end up raising more questions.  

55.   "Heart of the Ages" - In the Woods...

This is another band I checked out during my early metal exploration Kazaa days.  I remember being interested in them after reading about their connections with Green Carnation (another band I had read about in that last issue of Ill Literature I've been talking about).  At the time, I really dug their weird style and experimental take on black metal, even if I enjoyed Ulver's early stuff a lot more as far as songwriting and quality.   I think it's also the first time I ever heard the high-pitched, "dude screaming" black metal vokills as opposed to the typical rasps or shrieks that usually take place.   If you don't know what I mean, listen to the first track when the metal kicks in...you'll see what I mean.   Interesting stuff, definitely worth revisiting.   

54.   "The Codex Necro" - Anaal Nathrakh  

I haven't listened to this album as much as Anaal Nathrakh's later stuff, but I'll bet it's pretty similar.  Great band, but I gotta be in the mood for it.  Definitely not the kind of thing you want to put on when you're hungover at 10 AM on a sunday.  
Anyway, I got into these guys I used to despise programmed drums.   What was the point, when a real drummer sounded so much better?  I refused to believe that they couldn't find someone to drum on the album, especially if they could get some joker who could somehow pull it off in a live setting (also, this was a few years ago before drum programming really started to sound like the real thing).   However, I realized that the cold, mechanical nature of robot drums really brought something to the band's sound that a human drummer wouldn't be able to replicate.   Coupled with the grim, industrial-esque production and V.I.T.R.I.O.L.'s nihilistic rage, this was something that was new and interesting for its time...the sound of the black metal of tomorrow.

53.   "Nifelheim" - Nifelheim

I've always wanted to check out Nifelheim!!  I've heard their music is killer, and I've always dug their image and enthusiasm, but for whatever reason it's just never worked out.  Sorry guys!!  Very soon!!

52.   "Instinct: Decay" - Nachtmystium

Like most people, I've always thought Nachtmystium sucked up until this album.  In fact, I blew a huge opportunity to see just how good they were at this time when I went to their show when they played with 1349, Goatwhore, Averse Sefira, and Unmerciful in Topeka, Kansas back in 2007 or so (my car got broken that night, fucking sucked haha).  I remember Professor Grindstein and I left the show briefly after watching Unmerficul and Averse Sefira for some reason, probably because I needed to use an ATM and Grindstein wanted to get cigarettes or something.  Yeah, we would miss most of Nachtmystium, but those dudes fucking sucked, right??  When we finally got back, we walked in and I realized that even though we were at the tail end of the set, they sounded A LOT different than what I had assumed...it was clearly a black metal band on stage, but their style seemed a lot more experimental, melodic, and, dare I say, psychedelic.   I hadn't really heard anything like it before, and then when I finally checked out "Instinct: Decay" I realized what a fool I had been!!  
I still haven't explored this particular album as much as Nachtmystium's later albums (especially the brilliant "Black Meddle" albums that would follow this one), but it's obviously really creative, brilliant stuff that was a breath of fresh air in a stagnating scene; a leader in the renaissance of American black metal.  It's a shame Blake Judd turned out to be such a turd in the end, but at least he's in good company with other BM asshole geniuses (Varg Vikernes, Famine, Rob Darken, etc.).

51.   "Lurker of Chalice" - Lurker of Chalice

I actually listened to Lurker of Chalice before I had ever really given Leviathan a chance, and IIRC I liked this album more than anything Leviathan ever put out.   I should give it another listen, but I remember really digging the atmosphere of this album a lot...it was a lot more ominous and subtle than Leviathan's in-your-face tantrums of rage and despair.   I could be wrong, but it reminded me more of Xasthur than Leviathan.   I'm excited to come back to this album, I remember really enjoying it!!

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