Episode 21 – From Out Of The Swamp (right click to download)
This one is the most 90s black metal episode we’ve done so far, but in truth there really isn’t that much black metal in it. Well, ok, there’s plenty of it, but maybe not in the way you expect? You’ll be the judge and we’ll be the case, how ‘bout that? All we can say is that it came out naturally, and that is a good thing.
Nature and ambience are the two main keywords here, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that this is a rhythm-free episode. Best heard during night-time this one. Keep your beverage of choice at hand for the best results.
And PLAY IT LOUD goddammit! Don’t be afraid to feel like crap while listening to this. It can be devastating at times, but you’ll feel hellagood by the end of it all.
Click for show notes and a complete tracklist.
Until the light takes us! We start things out weird, with an otherworldly synthesizer hymn from obscure 90s American band/project Vale of Pnath. The dungeon synth thing should be no stranger to seasoned metal listeners. Most metalheads were probably introduced to the genre through Burzum’s synth albums (which we aren’t especially fascinated with). And while we don’t consider ourselves experts on the subject, this “Heart of the Deep Forest” has the right amount of terror and relaxation to deserve a spot. Just like the second track, actually. “Filosofem” has little to do with dungeon synth, that much is certain, but it definitely captures the nature ambient and the claustrophobic we want to convey here. Varg’s appetite for the electronic , the less is more and the, well, “anti-metal” really shows here, in spite of what a lot of black metal people may argue. As a side note, it might be the first time we play two late 90s tracks one after the other haha the more you know.
Burzum naturally evolves into Xasthur’s similar one-man-do-it-all brand of ambient and black metal. Compared to Varg Vikernes, his most obvious reference, Malefic does not rule out a more textured, multilayered, even melodic (in a good sense) and emotional approach to black metal, of which this “Abysmal Depths Are Flooded” is an amazing, amazing example (at least for one of us). It doesn’t mean he’s leaving behind the solipsistic nature of Burzum. We’ve read somewhere that it somehow compares to My Bloody Valentine’s “Loveless” and we totally can understand it.
Next up, Scott Walker. We know he has just released a record with Sunn O))), but we chose to go back to his “The Drift” album instead – just one of many masterpieces in his decade-long career. What can we say about Scott? Probably many metalheads never even heard about the guy before Sunn O)))’s collaboration. On one hand, it’s understandable. This is a man who started out as a 60s pop superstar teen idol (with the Walker Brothers) and eventually became almost a full-time hermit, only rarely showing up for shows or interviews. Along the way, Scott became many things. From his 60s solo “avant-garde orchestral crooner pop” albums, singing stuff from Jacques Brel and self-penned material, to his masterpiece trilogy (“Tilt”, “The Drift”, “Bish Bosch”) combining industrial, experimental or metal minimalistic “blocks of sound” while singing about war and Stalin, prostitutes and transvestites, suicide and disease, Scott Walker is quite simply one of the most influential voices (on par with icons like Frank Sinatra or Andy Williams) and artists of all time, influencing people from David Bowie, Bryan Ferry or Jarvis Cocker to rock, pop and metal outfits. Opeth, for instance, tried to cover the album “The Drift” and gave up because, as Mikael Åkerfeldt put it, “it proved to be impossible simply because his [Scott’s] head is sicker than mine and I also love melodies and dynamics”.
“Hand Me Ups”, is hands-down (ah!) the most terrifying song of this episode’s lot, which is to say plenty when you have the company of nice people such as Burzum or Xasthur…
SATAN MADE ME DO IT holds Ved Buens Ende and descendant Virus in high esteem. Here are two bands that possess both the gift of experimentation and great taste, a rare combination indeed. We’ve played a Virus track before on episode “It’s All Gone Weird”, so this time we went with a song from Ved Buens Ende sole LP “Written in Waters”. Norwegians seem naturally inclined to create very desolate, atmospheric and mellow pieces. “To Swarm Deserted Away” manages to get all of those in a little over 2 minutes of dissonant and melodic music. You gotta love those accordions. Wongraven sees us doing a bit extra dungeon synth/medieval worship. The project belongs to Satyr of Satyricon fame, but this “Over Ødemark” track was actually composed by Ihsahn from Emperor with cooperation with Wongraven. It feels like going on a dangerous journey.
We approach the end with a couple of outfits returning from previous SATAN MADE ME DO IT episodes. First off, it’s all-girl band Gallhammer with an exquisite piece of gothic-romantic influenced doom-black metal. Fucking superb. Right after, we have doom-lords The Body coming up with a super punishing track from this year’s “I Shall Die Here” album, produced by The Haxan Cloak. Not many metalheads will like it, as it furthers The Body’s progressive release from a more traditional metal’s gravitational pull. It’s interesting how this track is representative of this stylistic change. At first it sounds like “trademark” The Body, but it gradually morphs into the kind of horror/drone-metal electronic music one associates to The Haxan Cloak latest incursion, before it’s cut short at the end.
And that’s Hellhammer. There have been 20 – TWENTY! – Hellhammer free SATAN MADE ME DO IT episodes. Even our mothers are ashamed of us. Let’s see if this one is enough to save us from a sockless Christmas. Happy holidays!
- Heart of the Deep Forest | Vale of Pnath (USA) | Hymn Of The Plants, 1998 http://www.discogs.com/Vale-Of-Pnath-Hymn-Of-The-Plants/release/6319878
- Decrepitude II | Burzum (NOR) | Filosofem, 1996 http://www.burzum.org/
- Abysmal Depths Are Flooded | Xasthur (USA) | Telepathic With The Deceased, 2004 http://www.discogs.com/Xasthur-Telepathic-With-The-Deceased/master/48200
- Hand Me Ups | Scott Walker (USA) | The Drift, 2006 http://4ad.com/artists/scottwalker
- To Swarm Deserted Away | Ved Buens Ende (NOR) | Written in Waters, 1995 http://www.discogs.com/artist/199492-Ved-Buens-Ende
- Over ødemark | Wongraven (NOR) | Fjelltronen, 1995 http://www.discogs.com/artist/170335-Wongraven
- At the Onset of the Age of Despair | Gallhammer (JAP) | Ill Innocence, 2006 http://www.peaceville.com/bands/2080
- Alone All The Way | The Body ft. Haxan Cloak (USA) | I Shall Die Here, 2014 http://thebody.bandcamp.com/
- Crucifixion | Hellhammer (CHE) | Satanic Rites, 1983 http://www.hellhammer.org/