Dimmu Borgir, as you may know by now is a behemoth of a band as far as Black Metal goes. Many elitists will tell you that the Borg’ has not been true Black Metal since their second album, and they might be right! Their first album For All Tid (english: For All Time) is one that I consistently go back to when I need a fix for that special dark place in my heart. Det Nye Riket (english: “The New Kingdom”), the opening track, is a great example of the diversity of Black Metal at it’s roots. The brooding orchestral lulling of the introduction brings me back to an ancient place in my mind filled with dark forests and snowy mountain peaks masked in the morning fog. The orchestra breaks to an equally hymnal piano with soft Norwegian words raising a new kingdom to Satan,“King of the strong.” This is an element that I think a lot of modern day Black Metal has ultimately lost.
“Rhythmic Release” by Ritualz has been on frequent rotation for me lately. I find this track very soothing in a lot of ways. The sample that is used, “Hear me now, all crimes should be treasured if they bring me pleasure somehow,” is pulled from one of my favorite Cradle of Filth albums - Cruelty and the Beast - and it brings a deep seeded nostalgia to the surface to meet my newer fascination with Witch House and the new wave of darker experimental music. “Rhythmic Release” begins with a long period of ambience that I think really sets the tone of the song well. The way the vocal sample comes in, dragging and cut up to perfectly match the tone of the song plays perfectly with the subtle synth work and ambience of this track. This is an older Ritualz track - in the time table of witch house releases anyway - but one that I recently discovered and have fallen in love with.
I do not have a huge amount of experience with black metal. Much of my knowledge of black metal comes from brief bouts in the Cascadian sound mixed with occasionally trolling the black metal tag on Bandcamp. One thing that I have noticed in these brief foray’s is a large influence from Northern European folk music. What I found interesting about Panopticon is that they took this idea of folk influenced, low production music, and bent it towards Appalachia. The trilogy of songs that underlies the center of Roads To The North exemplify this reinterpretation of black metal’s Norwegian roots starting with melancholy banjo, mandolin and fiddle track that almost listens like an Iron and Wine song before bursting into a folky ecstasy. From there it transitions into the more traditional black metal blast beats and tremolo picking, but the moments of American folk are what really shine through and force me to think about the tropes and traditions of other music I hear and how they could be bent as Panopticon bends black metal.
I happened to stumble across future bass a couple years ago thanks to a DJ Shadow set that was posted to his Soundcloud page. This started a rabbit hole of burrowing through tags and recommendations on Bandcamp that ended with me amassing a frightening amount of bassy, ambient and occasionally trappy music. As I continued to explore the genre, I found that it had already begun to stagnate for me; I was hearing the same drippy lasers and the same echoing claps at every turn.
“Slow” by D33J has presented me with a refreshing take on future bass’ tropes while managing to avoid its pitfalls. Thick low bass with delayed drops of synths and melancholic pads mix with low-fi claps and vocal samples to create a beautiful atmosphere that encourages the listener to melt into the artist’s creation.