The recent resurgence of cassette culture within the US black metal underground (and elsewhere) seems to be foreshadowing a paradigm shift within the scene; perhaps it is the beginning of the death knell of “heavy metal inc” and a return to the DIY ethics that underground metal was built on. Unfortunately it is impossible to go back to having to put real effort into discovering new music in “the age of blogspot”, but a slew of bands and labels appear genuinely committed to taking the underground back underground, out of the hands of industry slime-balls, self-absorbed mercenary “journalists” and sloganeering try-hards, putting it back in the hands of those that matter, the truly dedicated artists and fans themselves.
One fine example of these ethos is Fallen Empire records, who have released the debut demo from Portland, Oregon-based black metal horde Blut Der Nacht as a limited cassette. Four tracks, roughly eleven minutes of raw, blackened blitzkrieg. The trio aren’t exactly reinventing the wheel with their unholy treble attack, but the zeal with which they assault the listener is something to behold, a barrage of classic black metal without pretensions or aspirations towards progression, just relentless infernal overkill. The fact that it sounds like it was recorded on a blood-covered and barely functioning Tascam 4-track only adds to its utterly corrosive authenticity.
None of the songs on Demo MMXI even breach the three minute mark, yet they are surprisingly dynamic, owing as much to punk as they do to black metal in their utterly ferocious brevity. Don’t let that description lead you into believing that Blut Der Nacht are yet another entry in the parade of faceless “blackened d-beat” bands that are clogging the scene of late (the same way quarter pounder grease clogs a fat man’s arteries) though, because Demo MMXI is black metal through and through. It’s a study in pure hatred that’s positively dripping with noxious venom.
Possessing a devastating level of intensity and an ability create catchy riffs and progressions within the traditional tremolo-picked black metal framework, Blut Der Nacht’s staunch traditionalism actually works in their favor. Whether their music is a militant rejection of the circus that USBM has largely become over the last few years, or just three dudes bonding over a love of Darkthrone and Ildjarn is anybody’s guess, but goddamn if it doesn’t make for some compelling music. If cassette-based, black metal-centric labels such as Fallen Empire, Crepusculo Negro, Rhinocervs, etc can consistently put out releases of this kind of quality, we could be looking at the beginnings of a (much needed) sea change in the USBM landscape. Can the rest of the metal scene be far behind?
Our pals over at Invisible Oranges recently posted a mixtape of their favorite “Kvlt Kassettes,” of 2011 which you should read HERE.