Albums You May Have Missed IIThursday, 20th June 2019
Welcome, dear listener (and reader) to the second installment of Albums You May Have Missed. This time we’re going to remain in the black metal world (where my interests tend to stay) but take a look at two albums that share in the chase of a particular kind of sound. A sound that, at least to date, has not been run into the ground but makes for a phenomenal pairing.
Some background though, is in order.
In 2013 Altar of Plagues released their swansong, Teethed Glory And Injury. Born out of James Kelley’s relocation to London and subsequent exposure to its vast music underground, it married the bands post-black foundation with all manner of stark electronics. While not crossing into territory considered industrial (every other Blut Aus Nord album, for example), it took a bleak base, paired down the often-extensive songwriting and resulted in songs bleaker still. Very inhuman sound elements were used to create a very human experience in album form. It was no doubt an exhausting production and made for an equally exhausting listen. By 2015 Altar of Plagues was no more.
Perhaps owing to the inherent difficulty in marrying the two halves of the sound, a greater trend hasn’t (yet) emerged from it though bands have incorporated pieces of it with varying degrees of success. While the post-black/blackgaze field has grown by leaps and bounds over the intervening years, moments where the sound pendulum swings toward that created by Altar of Plagues (the occasional An Autumn For Crippled Children) have been extremely sparse. Indeed even here the application of this sound takes a kind of electronic music rather than patterning after Teethed Glory And Injury.
But all is not lost.
Our pair of albums on focus here are each beholden to their own eccentricities, each possessed by a visceral magic all their own. One of the two is no longer with us, an apparent victim to its own volatility, something expressed vividly in the music the band did produce. The other moves with no sense of hurried purpose, releasing music when and only when it feels the need. Each, for your basic reader of English, possess names wholly unsuited for the English tongue. And each I discovered the same way: chance social media postings.
Buioingola – Il Nuovo Mare
Hailing from Italy and seemingly bound to a tempestuous internal chemistry, Buioingola (buio in gola, as I learned later when my brain refused to remember how to spell it) cuts closer to the blueprint laid out above. Il Nuovo Mare embodies a vicious no-man’s land between post-punk and post-black, a frayed stitching binding opposing but complementary shores of a singular wound. The volatility that split the band resonates in the immediacy that seethes from each of its songs, a noisy Armageddon playing out in five-minute movements. Guitars are noisy and jangle. Bass is a suffocating blanket. The drums are a mix of live and accentuated programming. At just over 34 minutes there is no fat or meandering asides, though cleanish vocals make appearances there are no attempts at grand soaring choruses or even things that could be described as pretty. But they are catchy, often alarmingly so. And after one violent reaction after another, it’s over.
And just like that, they’re gone.
Kły – Szczerzenie
Treading a similar path but without sharing in a similar sense of immediacy (to wit: none) is Poland’s Kły and their 2018 debut Szczerzenie. Hidden in the album’s liner notes and talked about in the occasional interview after its release is the long gestation period this album underwent. Indeed, portions of it, particularly its introductions and soundscape elements, dating as far back as 1997 with the band’s inception. As a listening experience as well the focus is less on the dire terror of the now and on a more elongated experience. Not that fast tempos aren’t a regular feature of that experience, but their implementation is more carefully used, utilized as one thread among many in a very dense tapestry of sound. Much more predominant as a feature of Szczerzenie is the use of synth: each song is lovingly saturated with them as a bringer of atmosphere that blankets each song in a cold fog.
Ideally we won’t wait another twenty years for a follow-up but given how well the marriage of the post-punk and post-black styles are brought here and how narrow-focused the community consciousness tends to be, that follow-up will be equally fresh two decades from now.
While a lot of intermingling has occurred between these styles (at least in sharing musicians or the interest of those musicians) the mixing of the two has yet to become a common thing. So long as occasional gems like these emerge from the murk, that’s okay.