It’s Kvlt Outside: Combating Christmas Music No. 4
Today I’m not going to complain about Christmastime.
Just kidding. I totally am. But first I want to share something from my past with you.
Yes, this is a real picture of young Masterlord.
I know what you’re thinking. “He looks so happy. What the hell happened to him between then and now that made him hate Christmas so much?”
Well, for one, my brain has almost fully developed since then. That, coupled with an impressive collection of psychiatric diagnoses, has wrought a change in me. Now for some reason I can’t stand having plastic happiness repeatedly crammed down my esophagus by the seasonal beast with a thousand thrusting arms.
It’s the same every year. December rolls around and slobbering parents disregard any trace of decency in order to score the year’s hottest products for their gross, awful kids who don’t deserve them nearly as much as they deserve to be locked in a lightless pantry for a week or two subsisting on spiderwebs and dead bugs. Which may not be half bad, considering that the only thing they’d be doing otherwise is sitting similarly motionless in front of the TV and watching endless variants of the same Christmas-themed car commercials that have been running every year since 1994. The car in the front is red so it’s Rudolph; we get it. Now fucking fuck off. I’m still not buying a Buick and I’m trying to watch Cutthroat Kitchen. Only I can’t because it’s a Christmas special and all the cooks are wearing elf hats. So I decide to go have a stroll outside, but I can’t do that either because the neighbors have coordinated their amateur light show with fucking “Little Drummer Boy” at 150 decibels.
We do what we can to balance out the scales, but combat-boot-kicking the heads off of children’s snowmen and setting fire to ironic Christmas sweaters while their owners still pose within can only accomplish so much, especially when our enemy has access to an incalculable number of outlets through which to spread its audial assault (essentially every speaker in the country). As a relatively small group of smelly nerds, we can’t hope to compete with the sheer quantity of joyous shitsongs being pumped out into the world, so we have to match it with potency. This column is our attempt to fight back with black metal.
Last week it occurred to me that there may be some of you who want to destroy Christmas music with the dark powers of the blackest metal, but just can’t bring yourself to listen to “that tuneless static” or whatever you call it. This is totally understandable; in another life I too may have been a huge poser. That is why this week we’re going to focus on melodic black metal. Which means lots of blue album covers.
I: SACRAMENTUM — FAR AWAY FROM THE SUN (1996)
Released in 1996 — three years after The Somberlain spearheaded the genre — Far Away from the Sun (and Sacramentum in general) never made it out from under Dissection’s looming shadow and was mostly forgotten. That ain’t right. I worship Dissection as much as the next frosty bastard, but I’ll be the first to say that Far Away from the Sun is every bit as good as Storm of the Light’s Bane. If that’s a hard pill to swallow, just listen to the album, you wiener. Let the cold melody force it down your throat for you.
I slept in hypnotic and hysterious sleep
I could see and hear through the night
I had burning candles inside my eyes
I could smell the purity of innocent blood
Sacramentum — Far Away from the Sun | 1996
II: UNANIMATED — IN THE FOREST OF THE DREAMING DEAD (1993)
Heavy on the groove and arguably way more death metal than black metal, the chilling atmosphere of the tremolos and the consonance of wistful melody blacken things up enough for me to rationalize their inclusion here. Plus, you all like death metal anyways, right? Unanimated rules either way. In the Forest of the Dreaming Dead is bipolar as hell; its lively riffing and melancholy atmosphere pull by the eyelids in completely opposite directions, leaving your confused remains somewhere in between a major depressive episode and total party.
Through the gloomy night
The silent shadows
Reach out in the cold
And tear the dawn away
Unanimated — In the Forest of the Dreaming Dead | 1993
III: LORD BELIAL — ENTER THE MOONLIGHT GATE (1997)
Drawing from Emperor’s In the Nightside Eclipse for inspiration is never, ever a bad idea. Write that down 100 times and eat the paper. Then write it down again and put it on your fridge. Lord Belial probably did, and if Enter the Moonlight Gate is any indication, it worked out for them. The melodies soar and dive, and every riff is an icicle tapered to a point and driven through the fat heart of The Christmas Spirit. By the time you finish listening to “Realm of a Thousand Burning Souls (Part I),” The Christmas Spirit will have been impaled by, like, tons of icicles. So do it!
I will open up the skies
Tear all the angels wings and laugh as they die
There will rain tears and blood from the heavenly paradise
We will prevail
In this moon-filled air
Lord Belial — Enter the Moonlight Gate | 1997
IV: THULCANDRA — UNDER A FROZEN SUN (2011)
For all of you who, for reasons unbeknownst to myself, have somehow fallen in love with technical death metal — this one is for you. No, not because Thulcandra is technical death metal, but because it’s Mr. Steffen Kummerer of Obscura doing his best Dissection impression; and it’s some damn convincing mimicry. So convincing, in fact, that it begs the question: when does worship become plagiarism? It’s a question for another time (maybe a Think Tank?), but you’re not going to hear this guy complain about more music that sounds like Dissection. With Jon Nödtveidt having taken his life in 2006, Dissection is no more; I consider Thulcandra’s work a welcome tribute.
Under a frozen sun, pain’s obscure ballet
A litany sighs endlessly
Thulcandra — Under a Frozen Sun | 2011
Do you think my head was huge when I was a kid? That’s fucked up. Do you like the color blue? Does anybody want to do a guest entry next week? I’d be cool with that.
Previous editions of Combating Christmas music: I, II, III