Photo courtesy of All Black Recordings
As we round out the year 2014 in the usual manner of bitching about everyone's year end lists, this time I figured I'd take a different approach to the idea of complaining about music, black metal in particular, instead of making a list (though you should check out the new records by Wolvhammer and Chaos Moon if you haven't). I'd use run on sentences as my weapon.
Black metal, at least in the United States, can be defined by a few basic things this year: personal politics, advertising, and blankets. I fondly remember the days where the biggest threat to whatever credibility or "purity" black metal had were Dimmu Borgir and that kid from the Sopranos having an Ulver poster. I never really thought about the real endgame in the scenario, even once bands like Liturgy and Deafheaven appeared and made the old guard shit weirder than the aging already do. Recently, Deafheaven did something to ruin Christmas and make the internet a more sour place: they made a blanket, and started pitching the font their last record had out into the world. I'm no fan of crass consumerism, but I am a fan of watching how this new marketing strategy has sent the internet underground into a shit fit. The natural evolution of every subculture turns into this sort of thing, and I'm always dumbfounded when purists are shocked by this shit. It doesn't help that while I'm typing this, I'm drinking from a Darkthrone coffee mug, but I've also hit the age where these things aren't even worth getting upset about. Black metal in this post-Second Wave form has existed for decades now; it's entering its midlife crisis, and a lot of people are taking years of their life with their aggravation over trivial shit that no one will remember in five years outside of a few jokes. By then, we'll have moved on to other nonsense that will be even more nauseating, and everyone will wonder what Euronymous would think if he were still alive. You know what he would be thinking? If it's time for his annual prostate exam and what the early bird specials are. Why? Because he'd be fucking old. Everything ages, everything changes and nothing will ever be as great and special as when you were young. Everything fucking dies.
This might sound a bit mean-spirited, but I don't think seventy-five percent of people would give any second thought to Myrkur if there wasn't the campaign of secrecy behind it pre-release, coupled with the fury over the main musician having ovaries and other things people who still live with their parents are confused and frightened by. It speaks a lot to gender politics in music in general with how this scenario played out, and it wasn't at all helped by shrouding the whole thing in mystery early on; Velvet Cocoon did that ten years ago and much more successfully. Now, it just comes off like the Sex Pistols or American Idol-styled manufacturing, but that's easier to ignore than the moist masses who, when faced with a woman, can only yell "TITS!" like she's unaware that she has them. Yes, black metal is a negative expression which isn't the most inclusive of genres, but recently people have been acting more like they're on Xbox Live than in a genre which should be held to a higher intellectual standard than most.
You'd think the people who put together year-end lists had fucked most of the comments sections participants' mothers and wiped off on the family dog by how offended they get when their favorite releases don't get mentioned. They complain about how stupid the lists are, and how they don't matter. If they don't matter, then what's all the fuss about? It's passive aggressive bullshit. Look guys, most of what's on there sounds like Mumford & Sons anyway, and if a record from your band or your friend's band that you keep telling everyone you know didn't get on it, then WHO CARES. Be that special snowflake your mom keeps telling you that you are, and move on.
2015 is right around the corner, but all of these debates will keep raging because that's what music subcultures do. Personally, I think this year had some great moments and great releases, and with Leviathan's new one around the corner, I'm excited for what's next. Everyone else trying to hold on to their perception of black metal's purity from 1991 is only holding onto their virginity and trying to put a coat of paint on a burning house. Happy New Year.
Neill Jameson is spreading tidings of great joy on Twitter.