It’s a provocative title, this one. It suggest that the fire on earth has been stoked high enough so that the flames lick agains theaven, creating an uncomfortable heat in the otherwise serene halls of God. That is a fitting title for Nidingr, who are creating a great album steeped into the tradition of black metal.
Nidingr started out as a solo project for guitar payer Teloch, who is now active in Mayhem (the true Mayhem, before any confusion arises). He gathered musicians, that have played live in bands like God Seed, Myrkur and even Gorgoroth and Trelldom. That explains a connection to these fundamental black metal sounds.
Only singer Cpt. Estrella Grasa is a slightly less known figure in the scene and also in my opinion the odd bit in the sound of the band. His hoarse bark feels a bit too ‘hardcore punk’ at times and when he is simply speaking it hasn’t got that profundity. It does give a song like ‘Surtr’ a different dimension and makes it in whole a lot more accessible. The proclamation on ‘The Ballad of Hamther’ could be a bit more imposing, but hey.
The mythological titles and dissonant sound of the band makes for a rather spectacular sounding record. The turbulent ‘Sol Taker’ for example is a great, thunderous performance with vocals coming from the center of a maelstrom. ‘Ash Yggdrasil’ has some calm, beseeching voice luring the weary traveller in on the opening chords. That is no other than Garm from Ulver singing on a track that reminds me mostly of Mysteriis era Mayhem with the blaring, ugly riffing that pass by so slowly, without ever relenting the sound. Only later in the song, when only drum and chanted vocals remain there’s break, but the wavery guitars come up instantly when the song continues… but then slowly fades.
And again the band surprises with ‘Heimdalargaldr’. A bombastic, Behemoth-ian spectacle with big arches, arousing drums and powerful vocals, that appear to come from deep. It’s another aspect of the Nidinger sound, but in a remarkably powerful form. The high point of the album is yet to come though, with the arrival of ‘Naglfar is Loosed’. An epic song featuring the heavenly vocals of Myrkur to create an even grander, epic journey. It’s perhaps not far off to call it a dirge, lamenting the coming of Ragnarok. But what a way to go, aye?
Nidingr is surprisingly accesible on this album, a marriage of the vocals and classic black metal. Great record.
A new series of sounds from that good, old underground with this time Myrkur (sure, I’m the metal hipster), Heisenberg (yes…), Bròn and Aokigahara.
Myrkur – M
You can’t pass up on all major releases, specially not this project by Danish multi-instrumentalist Amalie Bruun. Produced by Krystoffer Rygg (Ulver) and supported by Teloch of Mayhem and Øyvind Myrvoll of Dødheimsgard, this is one magical release. The sound is full, eclectic and unpredictable. It’s essentially a one person release, but much more than just a black metal album as which it has been put down. It contains new age, classical, ambient and folk elements in a blend that is so potent, that a listener may easily be overwhelmed by it.
Angelic singing by Bruun (or should that be another word due to the clearly pagan elements on the album) over some effect creates a dreamy atmosphere of tranquility with an edge of unrest. The guitar work is usually dense and full on, creating walls of tremolo guitarplay and thunderous rhythms. This record is not made with the intention to sound grimdark, evil and cold, it’s a calm and eerie beauty. A passage into the otherworldy, where the black is more black and the white is more white, everything is more intense on this record. That’s what makes it great, trying to write about it as waking up from a lucid dream. It’s bewildering.
Heisenberg – Heisenberg
I’m usually pretty enthousiastic about the bands I write about, but I’m not going to praise this one very highly. After hearing the dreadful Okilly Dokilly (the Ned Flanders HxC band) I stumbled across this on bandcamp and was like…Hell no! I did not watch ‘Breaking Bad’, which makes this even worse. It means that I can not even bring up the little bit of fanboyism that might be required to experience this band in the way it intends to be enjoyed.
I’ve never bothered saying I know my shit when it comes to death metal. It just is not my cup of tea in a general sense, though I can enjoy quite a lot of this. I do think it is a funny idea and someone had to do it, but it kinda starts to put the gimmick in metal and truly… that’s something it’s already choking on. If you happen to be part of that small niche of people who dig both death metal, gore and Breaking Bad (talk about niche marketing), this is your band and this is your album. Enjoy. I’ll pass… The bit where you hear Pantera is good though.
Bròn – Fògradh
It takes some digging to find out what this project really is. The man behind this atmosferic black metal project is Krigeist, who is also active in Barshasketh,, Cathedra, Blood Of The Moon and Belliciste. It’s one track of almost half an hour. The intro part takes a bit of the shimmering electronics of Jean-Michel Jarré it seems but then the black metal part hits. The production is not perfect, which makes you really pay attention to hear what is going on. Interestingly, the black metal never takes the forefront on this recording.
It’s a bit like synths are being played loudly over a tape deck playing the black metal tracks in the background, which makes them gently merge into the streaming, clean sounds. Harsh vocals are barked here and there, but the mix of the two elements is just off. That is what creates a unique ambiance of warmth, with a tiny hurrican in the bottom of the streaming sound. An odd tremolo guitar playing follows later, taking away the continuous flow of synths for a short while, creating another odd part, where the fog is momentarily broken by sunrays. The sound is very warm and pleasant, but with a tone of remorse. An intriguing record for sure. Aokigahara – _ Aokigahara.
I might have an eclectic taste, but atleast I’m not putting this stuff out there on a regular basis in order to torment people. It’s electronic music, but the first couple of minutes of this Costa Rica based band are samples, noise and weird screaming. Named after the famous suicide forest in Japan, this is obviously a DSBM record. I don’t really check that stuff out for fun by myself, because some of it really makes me feel fearful sometimes. This band is no exception. There is virtually nothing to be found about these guys.
The music just gets more eerie and uncomfortable as the record progresses. Cold tones, grim chittering in the synths and then your eyes are drawn to the bondage image on the cover. A funny note is added with the final track, titled ‘Costa Rica Is The Happiest Country In The World’. I never really know what to say about records like this, but to convey feelings of unrest, crawling under your skin is a talent not to be underestimated. I think its worth giving this a spin. No surprise that its out on Ukrainian label Depressive Illusion Records by the way.
Another series of reads Some good books this time, with authors like Gordie Howe, Kinky Friedman, Dayal Patterson and Henk van Straten.
Gordie Howe – Mr. Hockey: My Story
Gordie Howe has been a source of inspiration to me. The guy played hockey till in his fifties on the top level, still racking up the points. In this book he tells his story, which remarkably enough is actually the story of hockey itself. Mr. Hockey is not just a fancy nickname, it makes sense to call a guy exactly that, because he lived through it. Then he came back one more time in at almost seventy for the Detroit Vipers for just one game. He talks in his book about home, his youth, injuries and his own special frontier justice in hockey.
There’s a sense of humility to his words. Gordie Howe might be the greatest, he is even more so because of his personality and that down to earth mentality. I truly wish he was in better health these days, but at 87 the man is still going as strong as that beaten and battered body can. Amazing to hear his story and the things he’s seen and done. Ofcourse it’s only hockey, but hockey means a lot to me and any mans dedication to one goal is something to learn from. I salute you, Mr. Howe. Truly a hero to me.
Dayal Patterson – Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult
It’s no secret that I’m a massive fan of black metal. I love the feel of the music, the music and it’s culture, but nothing I love more than approaching it from an academic point of view, trying to create the bigger picture of a genre that is fundamentelistic in origin, but pushing boundaries for more than 20 years now. The work of Patterson is for that purpose a well written analogy of the scene through the most vital years, analysing and chronicling the bands that people keep forgetting. Sure, Mayhem has three chapters, but that’s not all there is in this book.
Patterson is not trying to say everything, nor trying to create some vision. He is trying to show what is there and where the nucleus of the scene was, but also the far edges. The whole Euronymous thing is in there, but cut short, sticking more to it as an event that shook and shaped the scene. This is vital information in understanding what and how things went down. I love how this book gets you such a much bigger picture. Did you ever read about bands like Fleurety, Sigh and Tormentor in a way that actually gave you new info? I didn’t, but now I’m checking all those out. Black metal is so much more than Varg Vikernes.
Kinky Friedman – Elvis, Jesus & Coca-Cola
Kinky Friedman is a country making, cigar smoking Jew from Texas. He switched to writing detectives at some point in his career, for reasons that I won’t even try to understand. One of the results is this book, that was put in my hands by a friend, mainly because he might get a visit from Kinky at some point in the future. It all seems a bit surreal, but you know what… I gave it a go. If you are familiar with the work of Irvine Welsh or Belgian writer Herman Brusselmans, there’s a writer to add to your favorites.
The protagonist Kinky finds out the girl he’s been sleeping with has gone missing. He goes on a hunt for answers in a surreal setting that mainly features internal monologues, cigar smoking and whiskey chugging with his mates in New York. Actually the protagonist, being Kinky Friedman, doesn’t do much more apart from talking on the phone, making his friends do stuff and dealing with his cat There’s this film noir atmosphere to the story thaough, which is weird in the sense that everything happens outside of the story. After 200 pages you just feel a bit confused. The story comes to life and gets resolved in the final pages only. That is however after a weird bumpy ride.
Henk van Straten – Superlul
Yeah, that requires some translation. Let me first tell you the story. Superlul is the nickname of the main character. It means super dick/cock/whatever and it refers to his huge schlong. After years of insecurity, hiding in his room with fantasy books and trying to prevent the rise of his enormous member, he finds his talent in the hospital with a horny nurse. From there on Superlul becomes a celebrity, all the while porking whatever he can. He ends up in the Dutch celebrity circuit, which is plastic fantastic.
It all turns into an overblown, surreal story where his girlfriend is Carice van Houten (Game of Thrones, yes the one with the lord of light thingy where a lot of boobies need to be shown). The style in which Van Straten tells the story is high paced, witty and direct. He gets his message across, without having to explain it. Van Straten is not being literary in the way it’s always perceived to be, by using difficult structures, complicated concepts and just shoving in a dictionairy. No, Superlul is literature for anyone who understands the irony of it all. That is definitely something this book has plenty of.
Disclaimer; any link to a webshop is just because I needed the picture, not that they are paying me (but they should)