Wednesday, 28 September 2011

**SPECIAL FEATURE** Black Metal Special - Part 1

Part 1

For years the UK Black metal scene remained very stagnant, not much of a scene to really call our own. There were the obvious torch bearers, but they remained few and far between, beginning to move away and morph into something far different from their black metal beginnings. The UK scene was always going to struggle on the international stage, fellow European countries forging extremely strong scenes and followings, supported globally by the international music press. However, the UK was never going to settle for a dormant scene, to be outdone by our European cousins. Some years ago like-minded musicians began to form bands with a passion for extreme metal, a passion for black metal and hence a new black metal scene was born. It is now that these bands are beginning to see the fruits of their labours, penning deals with the bigger respected extreme metal labels and this in turn has spawned a whole new wave of Black Metal hopefuls. Having seen that UK black metal can be successful, the underground is now healthier than it has ever been, and all manner of Black Metal bands are being formed, honing their skills of the live gig circuit and releasing some really great Black Metal. From one man misanthropic Black Metal bands to full Symphonic bands, the UK currently has a lot to offer and can now match, if not better a lot of the more established global Black metal scenes. Only intended as a brief guide to the UK Black Metal scene and not a comprehensive ‘who’s who’ there will be something for everyone in this ‘Special Report’ who enjoys Black metal:

ICONIC DESTRUCTION is a misanthropic one man BM band, the man behind this black metal solo project being Zac Broughton. Zac is single handedly producing some very tortured, haunting and atmospeheric black metal. There is a suffocating atmosphere being created on ‘Godstained Perfection’ (Malignant Manifestation Productions 2011), a real feeling of desperation and despair with a very bleak outlook on life. The finish is as you would expect of the genre, a bottomless pit of a production, reverb cascading throughout, especially on the vocals and drums. Buzz saw / lo-fi guitars like razor wire tearing through flesh. Suicidal black metal, raw but very catchy, original and never repetitive…pure black metal hell.
Iconic Destruction - Embrace Extinction
CHRISTGRINDER is a two man Satan worshipping outfit from the West Midlands. Harsh, sweeping riffs are backed up by solid, technical drumming, all topped with harsh black metal vocals which work very well together on their debut e.p. ‘Smoke Crack, Worship Satan’ It is a blackened assault with some leanings towards death metal and some grind. There is a lot to the band’s sound, incorporating acoustic guitars and synths in amongst the buzzsaw, and sometimes grandioise but harsh Black Metal riffing. Raw, yet melodic, Christgrinder will appeal to those who like some variety in their extreme metal.
Smoke Crack, Worship Satan by Christgrinder
CULTFINDER are an unholy blackened thrash assault which blasts straight from the pits the hell, with the emphasis being placed heavily on thrash. There’s a simplicity to the bands song structures which is endearing to the sound and the rawness of their music. Black metal style vocals layered with reverb and echo creates the ‘blackened’ element to the band’s sound, spewing messages of Beer and Satan (great combination!!). The band describe themselves as black metal, but not really in the ‘traditional’ sense of the term, the guitar riffs taking their influence heavily from thrash, but a very filthy and ugly thrash sound. It’s nasty Satan worshipping, beer drinking black thrash assault. It’s simple, to the point, filthy and rotten black metal nastiness!
Cultfinder - All Conquering Death by cultfinder
NINKHARSAG have only been together as a band since early 2011 but already have a 2 track demo written, recorded and released; and what an impressive introduction to the band this is. Lurking firmly in the ‘old school black metal’ vein, the band has produced some absolute quality old school, grim, necro black metal. The bands influences instantly obvious as there is an overall feeling of ‘Mayhem’ (De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas era) here, the guitar sound, the drum sound all suggesting that the afore mentioned masters of black metal are a massive influence on the band. Having said that the bands aren’t just Mayhem clones, they hold their own brilliantly, crafting some very memorable songs which really grab your attention. Vocals are scathing and hateful as you would expect, spouting demonic tales of woe. Their demo ‘Destroyed By Design’ shows great promise for such a young band.
OLD CORPSE ROAD play atmospheric black metal, drenched with keyboards and acoustic interludes which more often than not have a very ‘folky’ feel to them. Their split with fellow BM band The Meads of Asphodel ‘The Bones Of This Land Are Speechless’ only featuring three tracks, but with the shortest of the songs being nearly 9 minutes long, there’s plenty of music on offer. Comparisons can be made to very early C.O.F, having a very organic sound and being very well orchestrated and composed, the classical and folk elements prevalent throughout. Maybe even a hint of Bal Sagoth to their sound. There’s a real old school feel to the bands brand of Black Metal, the harsh tremolo picked riffing fitting perfectly alongside keyboards which almost lead the songs. Melodic yet harsh, folky and symphonic, there’s a lot to their sound and probably something to appeal to most BM fans.
The Witch of Wookey Hole by Old Corpse Road
HAAR are based in Scotland and describe their sound as “Progressive Black Metal”, however their debut e.p ‘Haar’ shows very little of the ‘progressive’ element the band describe. On offer is slow, tortured and hateful black metal that retains a sense of melody under a swathe of ice cold melody. A mix of genres, with doom and black metal being entwined to create real atmosphere. The music being drenched in reverb as is so common in the genre, the slow and heavy sections always manage to retain an element of black metal through the use of ice cold harmonies and melodies. Tracks are lengthy, but remain interesting without fear of becoming one dimensionally repetitive. Hatred and desperation etched into each track.

NECRO RITUAL are creating melodic black metal, their riffs sweeping back and forth which make a bleak and blackened atmosphere. The tempos remain slow throughout, sometimes venturing to mid-paced territory but then returning to the slow, melodic and mournful tempo. When the band really speed things up, venturing into familiar Black Metal blast sections they are reminiscent of Marduk. Variety is added to the vocals by using the standard high pitched ‘black metal’ screams which are drenched in reverb as well as guttural death metal growling. The riffing remains melodic and very memorable, many of the tracks are very similar in their structures, based around harsh, yet melodic black metal riffs. The changes in tempo work well, never allowing the songs to become one dimensional as can be the case with a lot of black metal. The band is producing some quality melodic black metal with real passion and atmosphere.

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