zondag 7 februari 2010

review: Just Another Winter / Hadewych / post-black metal

Since some time there has been a new interest in the black metal genre. Maybe this has to do with the genre being commercialized by some bands, or maybe by Varg (from the legendary band Burzum for the uninformed) getting out of jail last year.
Also last year the documentary film on this genre 'Until the Light Takes Us' was shown in film theatres and at film festival. Untill now there has been no news on a dvd release but this will be done most likely. This film is a sign and also probably a stimulus for the genre.

Anyway in the meantime there has also erupted a sort of new genre which takes style elements from black metal but shapes this into different sounds like drones, dark ambient and dark experimental music. None of these are new styles on their own. But when coming from a black metal background you might aspect it becomes very dark and depressive stuff with an aggressive twist from time to time. Also the themes used in the music refer to typical black metal topics like myths, nature and the heroic past.

Hadewych (also active as Distel on Enfant Terrible) from Holland has produced an excellent debut album filled with dark and moody sounds and songs. The album is a strange mix of some post-industrial sounds, some neo-folk elements and yes some black metal textures. It is not only the dark mood but also the heavy guitar riffs for example that are taken from the black metal genre. What makes this record so good is that it is not one single genre which is popping up in all pieces. Elements and sounds from various styles are used throughout the album. But, they are used subtle so you never get the feeling Hadewych is copying some specific style or band. The sound that results from this is quite unique and original.

The band has started to work on the second album already. Also they have being doing the release and the distribution for their debut all by themselves. This fits in perfect with the DIY spirit if the real black metal scene.

In the meantime German independent label Treue um Treue / Reue um Reue has started a new sublabel for sounds coming from the black metal genre. This label is called Just Another Winter and claims to release depressive ambient-post-black-metal. Funny detail is that TuT/RuR already released on the main label the very nice debut LP by Ad Absurdum. This act plays chiptunes in a black metal way... so Burzum on C64! Check this out for sure if you are into some adventurous style cross-overs.

Anyway, Just Another Winter has started its activities with three releases in a short period of time. First they released the last record by (dark) ambient project His Divine Grace. This one is a split release with the new alias/direction of His Divine Grace under the name of De Grace. Indeed De Grace borrows some elements of black metal. Mostly this is heard in the electric guitar used to create bleak soundscapes. Even though I liked some of the His Divine Grace releases a lot I think in this new appearance the music is even better. The guitar works really well and takes you by the hand throughout the music.

From the same musician comes also the project Notre Dessein. This project is much more in the black metal tradition, except that it has no drums in it. For the rest it is great lo-fi black metal/dark ambient stuff. In a way maybe something Burzum could have made in jail, as it sounds like it is done with lack of equipment. But this is what is also the charm of this record.

At the same time the double LP by Proces Veneficus was released. After five years and many releases on cd(-r)'s this is the first vinyl release by the project. The record comes in a deluxe gatefold sleeve on two pieces of blood red vinyl. Although the music is dark it is not very aggressive or raw like some black metal. It is much more ambient orientated and some sort of moody chamber music. Very nice is that there is also an traditional tune on the record which is credited as discovered through Espers. Maybe not all Espers fans will like this but some will (like myself).

Just Another Winter made a nice start and I am curious to see what else will be released by them. Why not Hadewych as I think in this "field" its for sure one of the most interesting and promising acts I know.

See here for Hadewych...

See here for Just Another Winter...