In the final days of 2014 I decided to revive Black Ivory Tower as a website. Across Christmas and the first days of the new year, I was writing religiously, resulting in the reviews of Sühnopfer, Deafheaven and Knyazhaya Pustyn, all of which were published in the following two months. In addition, I contacted my zine collaborators as well as a few newbies to see if they were interested in writing more regularly for the website.
As a result, over the last three months we have seen Black Ivory Tower at the highest level of activity in the website’s history. Multiple new articles are published every week, including reviews (long and short ones), interviews and editorials. While we are still modest in size compared to the big fish, reader response and site traffic have been steadily growing towards an all-time high.
With all the content that’s been hitting the site over the past three months, now is a good time to briefly recap and highlight the most essential articles published during this time. After all, we can imagine that with the thousands of words we have written recently, you might have missed out on some things.
Taigafolk – A literary visit to the periphery of civilisation (by Degtyarov)
This large review of the folk album Spletenye, a split between Lesnoy Tanets, Knyazhaya Pustyn and Isaz, nearly drove me insane. I worked on it non-stop for 2 whole days and revised it a dozen times. These efforts culminated into a multi-faceted review that captures the music’s atmosphere through literature, historiography and philosophy. Whether the review lives up to these pretences is for you to decide, but for me it is the kind of text that I aimed to write ever since launching the website nearly four years ago. Oh, and the music in question is amazing.
Sons of Aeeth – The music of Rome (by Maximus)
It was only a matter of time before Maximus would write something about his beloved Rome, but that his dedication to said project would result into the 5000-word end-all essay on their music was a most pleasant surprise. Using the albums Flowers From Exile and A Passage To Rhodesia as his main reference points, Maximus expounds the essence of Rome‘s music with an extraordinary sense of focus. While the historic topic material of the respective albums would invite lesser minds to distill from these works some banal political message, Maximus avoids this low-hanging fruit and concludes that Rome‘s music conveys something much more meaningful, and eternal.
Piously Pissed – On Urfaust’s ‘Apparitions’ (by MDL)
Black Ivory Tower does not solely strive to inform readers about new music; our aim is to provide an entry point into music, thus casting a new light over that which was already deemed familiar. MDL’s review of Urfaust‘s Apparitions helped readers, myself included, reach a deeper understanding of this ambient EP. By tying Urfaust‘s music to Pieter Bruegel’s depictions of hellscapes and disorderly plebeian festivities alike (after all, one cannot exist without the other), MDL helps us understand that Urfaust cast over their music an atmosphere that is firmly rooted in the Dutch natural tendency to gravitate towards the wicked.
The Importance of the Underground – Music, art, culture (by Antonio Espinosa)
When someone publishes an article that contains ideas your website has always stood for, but formulates them better than you ever could have, you know you have done well to welcome him to your writing team. In this article, Antonio does exactly that and more, explaining how music and art are means of communication between humans, allowing them to share experiences and sentiments in a way that would be impossible by other means. By the end of the article, the reader realises why it is of such importance to have a metal underground.
A Grand Tyranny – An interview with Akitsa (by Degtyarov)
For us, interviews have always taken a backseat to reviews, but whenever we do publish an interview, we want it to be a meaningful contribution towards the reader’s understanding of the band in question. In our recent interview with OT of Akitsa, we explore the history of the band, its influences and artistic ideas in ways that alter our grasp of this legendary Québécois black metal project.
Métal Noir Québécois – On Forteresse’s boldest statement (by Dubhthach)
“A good start is half the work”, proclaims a Dutch proverb. While he is not Dutch, our new contributor Dubhthach was aware of this truth, as he kicks off with a rock-solid review of Forteresse‘s iconic album Métal noir québécois. In explaining the significance of the statement Forteresse made on their debut, Dubhthach gives us a lengthy account of Québec’s perpetual battle against cultural domination on behalf of the English-speaking majority of Canada.
“Don’t Enter!” – Do Not Cry Tears As Women Do (by MDL, Poswicht & Degtyarov)
In our new weekly segment “Don’t Enter!”, we discuss albums in a much more brief and light-hearted manner than is customary in ‘normal’ Black Ivory Tower pieces. This instalment of the series is especially successful, as it provides us with a positive, a mixed and a negative review, showing that we are not quite swaying towards docile enthusiasm nor humdrum cynicism in our collective output.
That’s it for as far as Q1 (roughly) 2015 is concerned. Expect more ramblings in the near future, and a new magazine in the distant future.