“If you are a false, don’t entry!” And if you are a false, do enter, because the only rule of this weekly section, in which we present you three short blurbs on music we are currently listening to, is that we are under no circumstance allowed to press the enter key. All of these little reviews shall thus consist of one paragraph only. The more this rule renders the blurb illegible, the more the writer has failed. Check back every Friday for a fresh haul of Don’t Enter.
Black metal enthusiasts will all at least have an above average tolerance for scruffy, dirty production. Or, to put it more simply, if you have never felt childlike joy after having distinguished a single riff on a black metal demo tape, you have never lived. Regardless, the two records featured in this week’s Don’t Enter will push your boundaries, as they are among the rawest of the rancid and the lowest of the fi. So grab your headphones, head into the forest tonight and try not to get killed, will you.
Lascowiec – Unbroken Spirit | United States, 2011
Much in black metal is derrivitive – that is deriving from a certain ‘scene’ or regional sound. ‘Norsecore’, Bay Area Kvlt Blasphemy clones, LLN style noodlings, all these ‘sounds’ come from their more illustrious forebears. One circle which has been prolific with its own groups yet has not generated a number of clones is the Russian Blazebirth Hall. This is maybe due to it being both extreme in view and sound, or simply because it cannot easily be replicated. However, one group from the US has succeeded in capturing the atmosphere and aura of the BBH ether. Lascowiec (named apparently after a Slavic woodspirit, a wolf which rides atop another wolf protecting the forest) has released a number of albums, varying in quality, however the best examples of their work are the compilation Asgard Mysteries and their debut album proper Unbroken Spirit. Bringing to mind Branikald at its most icy and cosmic, this album even opens with a distinctly BBH sounding reverb drenched guitar jangle, reminiscent of balalaika channelled through a tape recorder and muffled by snow. The production renders the record almost unlistenable, but only almost. Beneath the layers of static, reverb and hiss there lies fiercely beautiful melodies which emerge as your ears become accustomed to the din. Much like the BBH bands, themes of ancestry, comicism, spirituality and the unbroken expanses of boreal forest play large roles in the lyrics and imagery painted within the music. One is taken to the tundra beneath a brightly starred sky, where a fire whisk brings creation to an end and new beginning whilst the frost settles on every pine and fir. Of particular note is the entheogenic final song, “Vanaheim”, which invokes the home of the Vanir Gods. Distorted electronic melodies swirl around a rumbling background, giving a mysterious and eerily stellar atmosphere to the closing of the album, a gateway. This is a tough listen, of that there is no doubt, and if you aren’t down with the likes of Ravendark, Branikald and Forest then there isn’t really going to be much here to excite you. However if Kaldrad’s work makes you shiver, and you’re tired of waiting for more Walknut, then Unbroken Spirit might just be the ticket to the tundra you’ve been searching for. Also see Svetovid’s Valhallan Dreams and Boreal Wind’s Ultima Thule, as both projects are related to members of Lascowiec and employ similar sounds and themes. This is starry icy ancestral black metal, recommended for the few. |MDL
Faarthkrag – The Station, the Passenger and the Void | Flanders, 2008
Whilst ‘unknowable’ is an odd adjective to ascribe to an album, even an ‘underground’ one, when presented with a beguiling and arcane mixture of soundscapes such as Faarthkrag’s 2008 (and only output to date) offering The Station, the Passenger and the Void it becomes the only really applicable one. A mixture of dark and experimental ambient, smothered black metal which sounds as if it was both recorded and played beneath a dank duvet that is layered and pierced with bizarre voices, closing doors and odd void-like swirls of air (all of course distorted and worked into a thick bog-like mix), this short release is about as esoteric as black metal can get. There is a feeling of mud, isolated study, communion with spirits, a slight fin de siècle atmosphere in its creaky sound. The music shifts from ambient to muted black metal and back again, the vocals shearing and snarling in behind samples of church choirs which seem to wobble like a warped record. The first few minutes of the third and final track (“Halbwertszeit” or “Half life”) produce one of the most effective and simple riffs in the record, taking on a wandering air, night time walks in muddy lanes, languid evenings in winter reading with wine, solitary and tortured art – there is something of Through a Glass Darkly here, mixed with the fields and woodlands of East Flanders where the band hails from. Intriguing, compelling and utterly unique, this deserves far greater attention than it has gained. However do buy the tape – whilst the youtube rip does the job, the tape version has much richer depth and detail, with subtle effects, tones and pathways which don’t come through your laptop speakers; as if I needed to tell you dear reader! |MDL