Tag Archives: Spectral Lore

Ten Bands Taking Black Metal to Outer Space


Progenie Terrestre Pura

Human beings have always been fascinated by space. Scan the archaeological record of nearly every ancient civilization and you’ll find evidence of people trying to divine the meaning of the sun, the moon, the planets, and the stars. Whether the celestial bodies were worshipped as gods, seen as controlled by a single omnipotent being, or viewed through science and research, they’ve always been objects of both wonder and fear. It’s hardly surprising, then, that black metal—a genre fixated on malign and mysterious forces—would have birthed a niche subgenre like cosmic black metal.

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The Black Metal Magic of I, Voidhanger Records

I Voidhanger

When Luciano Gaglio founded I, Voidhanger Records a decade ago, the music journalist—perhaps unwittingly—put forth his mission statement in the name of the label. If he had called it, say, Transilvanian Hunger Records, it would be pretty obvious what kind of music he hoped to put out. But Gaglio instead name-checked “I, Voidhanger,” an obscure track from Darkthrone’s Plaguewielder, a mid-career oddity that’s maligned when it’s listened to at all. Gaglio throws down that gauntlet of oddity and obscurity with every release on the label. Continue reading

The Best Metal on Bandcamp: January 2018

Best Metal

2018 is already shaping up to be a great year for metal, but before we dive in to the year’s first batch of new releases, let’s quickly turn our attention back to 2006. Watching from a Distance, the second LP by the U.K. doom band Warning, is in a class of its own for its combination of regality, melody, heaviness, and sheer emotion. It shares some of the lugubrious motion of funeral doom, but it also transcends that genre, with Patrick Walker’s soaring, despairing vocals leading the way. Watching from a Distance is also the final Warning release—though the band did recently reunite for a series of brilliant live shows where they played the album in full. Despite its hallowed status, the album has had a tumultuous afterlife, spending much of the last decade out-of-print and unavailable digitally, as rights have changed hands between labels. It’s finally back on Bandcamp, along with the rest of the Warning discography, via new label Cappio Records. If you haven’t spent time with Watching from a Distance yet, don’t let it escape you any longer. Now, onward to January’s best metal releases.

View the Best Metal on Bandcamp Archives

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Ten Bands Pushing the Boundaries of Extreme Black Metal


Oranssi Pazuzu

By design, black metal thrives on its extremism, both musically and lyrically. It’s raw, ugly, menacing, explosive, and blasphemous. So the idea of “extreme black metal” seems like a case of pure hyperbole. It’s not. Like most music styles, black metal has tropes and gaggles of bands that adhere to these conventions—blast beats, tremolo guitar lines, echoing, roaring vocals—which have been exorcised since Norwegian extremists started making music (and burning churches). However, there are also underground figures that believe playing traditional black metal is an exercise in redundancy.

These individuals—many of whom create one-man projects either to maintain creative control or because they’re too misanthropic to get along with other musicians—have no interest in commercial success, and aren’t trying to set some new standard of heaviness. They’re writing and performing the music that reverberates through their minds, and that they don’t hear from anyone else.

Many extreme black metal musicians cherish anonymity and refuse to do interviews. Others are excited to share their motivations for creating such strange, aggressive songs. But all of them share a deep knowledge of music and a desire to reach beyond established boundaries. For groups like Gnaw Their Tongues, Sortilegia, and Jute Gyte, the goal is to create music so discordant and aggressive that it becomes almost cathartic. For others, including Sigh, Oranssi Pazuzu, and Spectral Lore, the kick comes from juxtaposing numerous seemingly incompatible styles of music into a unified storm of sound.

The definition of extremism is ever-changing. When Bathory and Venom surfaced in the ‘80s, nothing sounded as raw, savage, or evil. By comparison, the second wave of black metal, fronted by Mayhem, Darkthrone, Immortal, and others made the pioneers sound like pretenders. Many credible bands followed from Europe, such as Emperor, Satyricon, and Watain. And later, American bands like Abigail Williams, Wolves in the Throne Room, Agalloch, and Xasthur put new twists on the genre. All are extreme in their own way: Watain pile animal innards on their stage set and throw pig’s blood into the crowd; frontman Dagon of Satanic band Inquisition sings in a croak that resembles a snarling frog.

The 10 bands in this list have developed their own, fairly unprecedented styles of extremism. Some, like Sigh’s Mirai Kawashima, Jute Gyte’s Adam Kalmbach, and Vintersorg’s Andreas Hedlund, have pursued academics. Others, like Gnaw Their Tongue’s Maurice de Jong and Nekrasov’s Bob Nekrasov, spend most of their time in the studio writing and recording music. And while these artists might not be the absolute, most extreme musicians to enter a studio, all of them have pledged to buck conventions in order to create their own infernal imprint on the black metal subgenre.

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