Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Into the Void - Black Metal from Start to Finish


I love black metal. Some of you may have figured that out by now. I wouldn't hesistate to call it my favourite of the extreme genres. I've listened to countess hours of Mayhem, Emperor, Darkthrone, Enslaved, and Burzum, and have even taken a try at creating some one-man black metal of my own. Inspired by the members of a metal forum where I have been a on-and-off member since 2008, and my own little project here to opine on each black metal release that I heard in 2012, I've undertaken something even more ambitious. Foolish, considering that I haven't quite finished my worldwide journey of black metal for 2012? Maybe. But it's a little different.

My plan is to listen to all the black metal, in order, and write about it. Why would I do that? Well, it strikes me that it might be fun. If nothing else, it will be a chance for me to educate myself on the music that I most enjoy. I'll be rendering judgment on some truly classic slabs of music, so it's also an opportunity for me to talk about the classics that we otherwise might take for granted.

So let me lay out a little more what exactly I'll be doing. Going through black metal is a bit more complicated than going through, say, thrash metal, simply because of the TRVEKVLT underground with their 200 copies cassette tape demos. I'm going to try to avoid a lot of that by sticking only to major releases. I'll be hitting EPs, particularly when they're the first release by a band, but if a band actually released music more extensively, I won't be listening to their demos. A couple will probably sneak in the cracks, just because of their highly influential status (Tormentor and Thorns specifically come to mind), but for the most part, I won't be covering demos. If that makes me less than TRVEKVLT, fine.

The material presented here was originally posted as part of the Last Rites metal forum, which you can check out at LastRit.es, but it seemed appropriate to also present it on my own blog for each access later on.

A want to give a word about the way that I'm rating these albums. I'm using a 1-10 scale (not my usual 5 Art/5 Grip scale), but not a normal one. Usually, you might think that a "5" was a middle of the road album, and thinks less than that are worse than average, and things higher are better than average. Since this is a genre that I happen to enjoy more than average, however, I thought that such a scale wouldn't give me quite enough variation in rating albums. To that end, I've decided to make a "3" be an average "take it or leave it" album, with 1 and 2 being "bad" albums. Anything 4 or higher is worth at least a listen or two. If that doesn't make sense to you, that's okay. It doesn't really make sense to me either.

Right now, I have a list of over 400 "black metal" albums put out between 1984 and 1999. That's a lot of albums. Whether or not I ever make it all the way to 1999 is completely up in the air. Fortunately, much of this music is available on Spotify. Unfortunately, many of the older albums only feature remastered versions on Spotify. I will do what I can to find the most accurate version of the album that I can as it was originally released, because part of the idea of this project is to hear the music as it was heard at the time.

I hope you will join me on my journey. I will be posting periodically here with the subject "Into the Void."