Blog: All I want for Christmas is some better black metal

By on 10 November 2011


Web ed Tom has been wandering listlessly round the office like a lost puppy. We asked what’s wrong, and diagnosed a bad case of black metal withdrawal. We prescribed loud Darkthrone and a blog.

It’s that time of year again. Music journos from all schools of thought are beavering away, trying to put together their highlights of the year into little lists that they regret almost as soon as they’ve sent them, firing off panicky emails to their editors going “WAIT! Is it too late to swap number 19 for something else?” and “can I change numbers two and three round?” and possibly even “you do know I taking the piss when I put the Morbid Angel album at number one, right?!?”.

The thing I’ve noticed as I’ve been compiling mine is that one of my favourite branches of Terrorizer’s twisted tree is conspicuous by its absence. With the exception of a very small (ie- four) number of records, bugger all has even been in the running for the shortlist from that most evil of subgenres: black metal.

The realisation has finally sunk in that, while 2011 has produced some great records, and seen certain areas of our world be prolifically brilliant – death metal in particular has been in ludicrously good health, from the old-school gnarly stuff (Vallenfyre, Entrails, Autopsy etc) to the ultra modern (Origin, Obscura, Ageless Oblivion) and unadulterated evil goodness (Vader, Krisiun, Abysmal Dawn) – black metal has had a complete fucking stinker as far as I’m concerned. There’s been the highlights (*cough* Altar Of Plagues *cough* Anaal Nathrakh *cough*) but for the most part, there’s been a raft of perfectly good records that have really not set my face on fire the way black metal should amidst a load of forgettable pap. Maybe 2010’s avalanche of greatness spoiled me, but I’m generally underwhelmed by what I’ve heard this year.

Basically, 2012 needs more Abbath

I’ve been trying to work out why little has come along that’s been of the very top class. Partially, this is due to a year without most of the big black metal names releasing records. Satyricon are still yet to finish writing the three riffs they need for their next album, Cobalt have been very active on Facebook but there’s no sign of an album, Immortal have been on every festival bill in the world, Evil from Marduk has been doing Death Wolf (which, in fairness, is great), Gorgoroth have had label issues and Mayhem are… well… Mayhem. Rule out the bands that only released a record last year (Rotting Christ, Ludicra [sobs], Enslaved, Watain, Melechesh, Nachtmystium, Deathspell etc etc), and we were left with a fairly small pool of established bands to provide the hoped-for classics. We’re then left with the hope that smaller bands will start breaking through.

As far as those bands are concerned, we then have the well-established black metal problems. There are those bands happy to recycle old Norwegian/Swedish or newer French ideas ad infinitam, and while some do it perfectly well, it’s rather hard to make better versions of ‘Transilvanian Hunger’ or ‘The Somberlain’ than already exist. Then there are those doing something new (yes, really) and inevitably not all of them are going to nail it. Then there are the great bands off the boil (not looking at anyone or mentioning any names, Blut Aus Nord… oops), and those bands taking black metal as a point of origin before going off in directions somewhere outside evil filth such as the lovely Falloch or the genre-defying Cormorant.

Can we have more of this next year, please?

The net result of all of this is a slightly lacklustre year for the really top-level, viciously filthy stuff.

And so, I appeal to you: if you know Sakis Tolis (or if you are Sakis Tolis) or Grutle and Ivar, or Satyr, or Infernus, or Abbath (especially Abbath) or any of the great BM musicians of the world, persuade them that next year is a very good year to release an album. If they don’t like the idea, I have a decent-sized collection of really bad power metal you can play in their general vicinity. Just FYI.

About Miranda Yardley

I'm Miranda. Bite me.

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