We love an idea here at Hickeysonic towers, a concept, a through line and such. So it came to be that, no doubt the worse for a few sherries, I was charmed by the idea of the 28 days of February aligning with the 28 countries of the European Union our parliament had just agreed we’d trigger article 50 and leave. An ongoing political, economic, cultural and psychic trauma that looks to continue burning brightly and destructively for at least the promised two years and beyond. This is not the place for even more rambling on about its possibilities – although for what it’s worth I expect leaving the EU could be turned to the good – there just seems no will on any side at all to actually make it beneficial to the people of the UK. So it goes. Fundamentally this is a question of trade relations however, we are not actually towing the island further into the Atlantic, and the cultural bonds with our European brothers and sisters seem something we should seek to maintain. To the case in hand, I was charmed by this idea in the dying hours of January and so any period of preparation or overthinking was neatly avoided. As much as we love an idea, we’ve also been strong on doing things in a half-arsed way and it wasn’t long before the obvious ‘country a day’ metric came unstuck – I think we’re 12 countries for 23 days at this point. Some big hitters still to feature but, well, can you name all 28? Can you think of a band you like from all of them? There’s some obscure little countries (who now have better international trade arrangements than us) in there. Thank Satan, everyone has black metal bands though. So here’s four for today –
first up and free/name your price on bandcamp if you wish Plague Porter are from Czech Republic and they’re pretty much textbook black metal as best a wishy-washy-hipster-sunday-driver fan of the genre like me can tell. Hectic, hateful, it’s sure to get the blood pumping on the old black metal aerobics. Some fairly tolerable growling vocals about all manner of visceral unpleasantness, frantic drumming, buzzing guitars, pretty decent production too. The songs stay in the 3-4 min range, there are no exploratory epics, no disquieting dark ambience, acoustic folk interludes or prog-like dicking about. In short none of the moving on from the essentials that makes a band interesting to a dilettante like me – ‘Monuments To Vanity’ is the best track in my opinion, make of that what you will
Also name your price from what I’m going to go out on a limb and call Luxembourg’s best black metal band Black Candle whose ‘Lost Light Of The North’ made it onto a couple of year-end lists I noticed. More varied and experimental than Plague Porter they do however suffer a little from the genre affectation/cliché of having terrible drums that sound like a wind up monkey toy recorded on a phone. I’m not sure why this persists, the vocals also wander over the line to phlegm drenched irritant for me, but I’m not much into that style anyway so the best tracks for me are the instrumental ones with more tribal floor tom drumming ‘In The Ghost Mountain’ and ‘Gray Ritual’ both of which are pleasingly moody and atmospheric numbers.
Romanian foggy wood dwellers Negura Bunget (literally – foggy forest) push it out a ways on the trad folk links and atmospheric passages, all native land and lore and what not. They’ve been around a while, found their feet and such, this recent effort is the middle installment of a ‘Transylvanian trilogy’ and displays all those folk/prog/experimental leanings alongside core black metal grunting and thrashing in a much more epic sounding space. I have no idea to what extent vampirism is implied/involved/ignored as silliness by the band.
Meanwhile in Cyprus Accurst’s recent third album wraps up a trilogy and traverses a personal hell. It’s a solo project and brings a whole lot more of that power electronics/dark ambient/ horror soundtrack business into proceedings than the three albums above. Hard to believe someone from Cyprus has enough first hand experience of the cold to make such a frosty, desolate, windblown soundscape. Fun and sunshine? Apparently there’s not enough for everyone, because for some of us it’s always winter in our souls.