There’s raw black metal… and then there’s Nyogthaeblisz. The trio of Texas black metallers recently garnered quite a bit of press for being kicked off the bill of this year’s Chaos in Tejas fest, due to their affiliation with the Satanic Skinhead Propaganda label (who’s owner described the band as “anti-jew”), appearances on compilations with highly inflammatory titles such as Declaration of Anti-Semitic Terror and a penchant for dressing up like the black metal version of the KKK. I cannot speak for their ridiculous fashion sense, and I most certainly don’t condone their abhorrent ideology (it seems pretty goddamn absurd that a band that’s supposedly of Hispanic descent would harbor such noxious beliefs), but I can speak for Nyogthaeblisz’s music, which is some the gnarliest black shit I’ve ever heard.
The trio’s entire discography to date has been compiled on this CD reissue of Apocryphal Progenitors of Mankind’s Tribulation (henceforth referred to as APoMT), a collection of songs(?) that makes Ildjarn and Striborg sound like the fucking Beatles. The music here is beyond chaotic, whether by design or as a byproduct of severe instrumental ineptitude is anyone’s guess, while the production quality ranges from shitty to preposterously shitty; it’s like someone just set a boombox down in front of the band while they flailed away at their instruments in some dank basement, and then proceeded to bash it to bits with a sledgehammer as it recorded.
So why do I dig this disgusting noise? Because in listening to APoMT, I get the distinct impression that what’s transpiring musically is indeed by design, rather than some bizarre fluke of amateurishness. Black metal means many different things to many different people, but my personal interpretation of the genre has always been this: black metal is the musical embodiment of primitivism, chaos, destruction and hate; Nyogthaeblisz’s approach encompasses this completely. Surely something this putrid-sounding could only be the product of musicians determined to distill black metal into its purest form?
Indeed, black metal should be unpalatable, uncomfortable and alien; it should take us to those uneasy places that other forms of music can’t even fathom (save for harsh noise and power electronics, perhaps). This is what Nyogthaeblisz are pushing at here. Each song on APoMT is a mostly formless/free-form clusterfuck that probably has more in common sonically with mid-nineties Merzbow (Venereology, Pulse Demon, etc) than with other black metal, only occasionally becoming structured when the band sees fit to let off the gas and settle into a ramshackle doom riff. The vocals are a distorted, spiteful screech that completely overloads the mix whenever they pop up, adding to the inhuman atmosphere. There is a point where music becomes so extreme that some might argue it ceases being music all together, and Nyogthaeblisz fall squarely into this category with their ultra-corrosive approach to black metal.
Whether or not you agree with my interpretation of Nyogthaeblisz’s intent, it can’t be denied that the material that comprises APoMT is some of the noisiest, nastiest black metal ever put to tape, an aural assault that actually lives up to the genre’s promise of total annihilation. If this is the sound of the apocalypse, we’re gonna need fucking earplugs.
The controversy surrounding Nyogthaeblisz’s inclusion and subsequent removal from Chaos in Tejas brings up a lot of questions about the state of the metal underground. Where does one draw the line when it comes to tolerating “extreme” beliefs and behaviors? How much freedom of speech is too much or not enough? Can we truly divorce ourselves from an artists beliefs and ideologies when we expose ourselves to their art? I don’t believe there are any easy answers, but I have stated time and again here on THKD and elsewhere that it is important to expose ourselves to art that we might find uncomfortable or even offensive. Where some will see a band like Nyogthaeblisz as black metal in its purest form, some will see them as offensive or confrontational, while others will see talentless crap, and others still will see some combination of these things, or something totally different all together. The point is, we should always be willing to challenge ourselves with our consumption of art, no matter the ultimate outcome. Art isn’t meant to be safe.