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Too old, too cold…
Too old, too cold…
It’s been a long, cold winter here. Unforgiving. As alluded to at the end of last month’s blog, the squalid, embarrassing nation I reside in was brought to a total standstill when the ‘Beast From the East’ made landfall at the end of February.
As temperatures plummeted, freezing winds sweeping in from the North Pole via Siberia carrying billions of disassembled snowmen, we were instructed by our young leader to stay at home. The roads were too dangerous to traverse and the blizzard-like conditions were a live threat to life and limb.
As a self-employed slave, I lost five days’ wages. Seething with rage, I stared through a window at the white shite, shivers running through my skinny frame, and felt a sudden urge to listen to some Black Metal.
In keeping with the geographical origins of the genre, there’s something about snow and ice and frost that goes hand in hand with Black Metal.
My first proper introduction to this music was probably DARKTHRONE’s ‘Under A Funeral Moon’. There was no information superhighway back in 1993 and the first two DARKTHRONE full-lengths passed me by. The local record shop stocked the third one and – even though I stole it in the middle of summer – it gave me the fucking chills. I couldn’t believe how cold the sound was.
Not that DARKTHRONE is one of the first bands that pops into my head when I think of Cold Black Metal. But the big chill was definitely perceptible back then, a quarter of a century ago. That was the beginning of the end.
For each of us, there will be personal favourites that we find to be particularly synonymous with coldness (SATYRICON, MAYHEM, CELTIC FROST, LUNAR AURORA, BATTLE DAGORATH, AKITSA, ILDJARN, OLD WAINDS, BEKËTH NEXËHMÜ, TENEBRAE IN PERPETUUM, HATE FOREST, WALKNUT). The artwork, the band names, the album and song titles … it’s never far beneath the surface. IMMORTAL is one that epitomises the feeling for me; the winter demons, the blizzard beasts. ‘At The Heart Of Winter’, for example, is a masterpiece of grim, frostbitten iciness.
I have no interest in trying to compile an exhaustive list of albums or bands who mastered the Cold Black Metal sound; I’d prefer to single out a few that made a mark on me…
Staying in Norway, ‘Unholy Holocaustwinds’, the demo from the excellent THRONE OF KATARSIS, always has me reaching for a woolly hat, while some of the early releases from Sepulchral Productions in Québec captured the quintessential cold northern blast that no other music other than Black Metal can conjure.
From Blazebirth Hall to Helvete to the Dolomites, Black Metal is as cold as the lands that spawn it.
Cold, grim and bitter, like life itself.