Album of the Week

It so happened that over the past several months I’ve discovered over a dozen albums that have already become my favourites. This actually says a lot because over the past 5 years, I’ve only heard a handful of albums that impressed me and remained on my playlist. I’ve been seeking out new artists very actively between 2004 and 2009, but that stopped due to lack of time and general disappointment with the albums that were coming out at the time. It seemed I had to sift through dozens if not hundreds of mediocre rip-each-other-off albums before stumbling onto something worthwhile. To make matters worse, the good albums were usually discovered serendipitously: either by recommendations from a friend or going back and re-listening to albums I already heard, but didn’t pick up on the first time. So the motivation to actually seek out new albums was gone as it seemed there was no point in doing so.

That wasn’t too far removed from the truth actually as there is still a severe lack of quality music being put out at the moment. However, in October 2015 I have, once again completely randomly, come across Totem Skin’s Weltschmerz. The music, which is a combination of Punk, Crust and some Post Metal elements, wasn’t completely original, but boy did it sound fresh compared to everything else that was on my playlist at the moment. I’ve done a quick search through similar artists on last.fm and discovered another handful of interesting bands. This was a good sign indeed! I felt refreshed and ready to plunge back into the music scene.

Over the next few months, in addition to Totem Skin, I’ve enjoyed listening to Hierophant, Dark Circles, Lentic Waters, Mihai Edrisch and a few other bands. In the winter of 2016 I’ve watched the second season of Fargo, which had a killer soundtrack with the likes of Spirit, Junction, Jethro Tull and the mighty Black Sabbath. This made me seek out some of those older records and give them a spin. At this point a thought crossed my mind that perhaps to discover new music I shouldn’t focus on contemporary works, but rather look back in time. It’s actually a bit embarrassing how long it took me to realize this.

Right about the same time I discovered Ghost. Again, this was completely random, without any warning. Their Grammy award video came up as suggested on Youtube and, being bored at the time, I clicked on it without thinking. They definitely sounded like an interesting band based on the song I’ve heard – Cirice. The music was nothing special, although the execution was very skillful, to say the least. What sparked my interest was the interview with one of Nameless Ghouls, where he described their main lyrical theme as ‘feel good Satanism’. Now that was something I haven’t heard of before. It seemed completely new and definitely made an impression. I’ll have to admit that on the first listen Ghost didn’t seem like much of a band. It seemed the project’s main goal was to simply make money by playing accessible music.

So I put Ghost aside for some time as the music simply didn’t match my mood; I was longing for something heavier and darker as I was going through a difficult period at work with long hours and a lot of stress. So here came Darkthrone’s Hate Them. This was the first album by Darkthrone that I listened to and had the exact harsh sound I was looking for. After spinning the album for a bit, I noticed that Hate Them was certainly not a pure Black Metal album: the punk influence was way too obvious. I’ve heard the band’s early works and, other than Transilvanian Hunger, I wasn’t really sure what I was listening to. I’ve also heard the more recent albums and, despite the music being drastically different, the result was quite the same. The music just seemed to go way over my head.

I started reading up on the band to figure out how exactly their music evolved and what I should be looking out for in their music. The band’s history probably deserves a book of its own – it’s very interesting for anyone remotely familiar with Black Metal. The one part that I’ve found particularly unusual and fascinating was the change in lyrics from the early works to albums released after Hate Them. Darkthrone abandoned the typical Black Metal Satanic lyrics and were now singing about the past and present Metal scenes! Quite the twist! I am the Grave of the 80’s is the perfect example.

There’s way too much black
And there’s too little metal
Dealing with this had me breaking my shackles!
I am the graves of the 80s
I am the risen dead
Destroy their modern metal
And bang your fucking head
Destroy!

This was one of the main driving factors to explore the Metal scene of the early 80-s to mid 90-s. Guided by some knowledgeable reviews and articles, I’ve discover many gems there. That in fact was the primary motivation of starting this blog: simply to document works that have made and impression on me and supply some amateur-level analysis on the side. I’ve had the idea of starting a blog at the time I discovered Ghost, but due to lack of time and general laziness it didn’t happen, so now I have a bit of catching up to do. I will try to identify an album that impressed me the most on a given week, though certainly not every week will have an album.

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