Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ildjarn - Det Frysende Nordariket (1995)

Huh, I've only posted one black metal album so far? This strikes me as odd, since I am grim and hateful (I just got my ears pierced at Claire's). However, after a bit of consideration, it makes a lot of sense, since black metal, as a genre, has very few recordings that are actually worth listening to. It's extremely easy to make albums sound like Hvis Lyset Tar Oss or Transilvanian Hunger without even understanding anything at all about what is actually great about those records. This perfect form, no substance phenomenon is also quite prevalent in genres such as hardcore and shoegaze.

That said, Ildjarn, although a kindred spirit in minimalism, doesn't sound much like Burzum or Darkthrone. Binary pairs of Discharge riffs have evolved syncopation and chromaticism through sliding fifths as a feral response to agrarian decadence. Drums provide a loose tempo structure, a blundering pulse with too many errors to truly achieve the ambience of some of Ildjarn's more technically skilled peers. These are the sounds that your firing synapses make as you imagine running off into the woods; this is the rawest, most primitive, most emotional music.

12 comments:

thesunchild said...

Ugh - don't even get me started on the problems with shoegaze post-1993.

thesunchild said...

Also - that is my favorite Burzum record too. Don't know what Ildjarn is. I'll get it when I return to CU.

Roger Camden said...

Once again, nice writing.

I agree; there are not too many worthwhile black metal records.

I'm sure that hardcore fans of the subgenre will heavily disagree. This is to be expected, though.

Outside of a handful of landmark recordings, much of BM is uninspired. Its ratio of great-to-shit is comparable to hardcore and other DIY-derived musics.
It's not often that I run across a BM record that is worth more than single listen.

Todd said...

I'm sure that hardcore fans of the subgenre will heavily disagree. This is to be expected, though.

For some people, the surface-level aesthetic of music is what they enjoy - take a look at all of those black metal blogs posting every idiot demo ever released. A lot of this also has to do with some weird e-collector "gotta catch em all" mentality that kind of makes sense to me until I've listened to four whiny Burzum wannabes in a row - then I want to catch none of them.

Andy said...

I think the importance of the lo-fi aesthetic in black metal is a very interesting thing. I mean, you had broke ass hateful dudes who wanted to record, and shitty 4-tracks were all they could afford. But at the same time, the dirt and grime of recordings like these becomes almost as integral as the music itself.

Fenriz said something cool about black metal while describing his hate for the ultra-symphonic poseur shit. He said that when you listen to the purer, rawer stuff, through the distortion and the mud, you actually start to hear strings. The darkness and dissonance of the chords coupled WITH the rawness and distortion, created additional sonic textures and atmosphere that would not have existed in a "clean" recording context. Not to mention the genuinely "punk" attitude that permeates such a primitive performance and recording such as this.

While you're right that anyone can play a succession of minor chords and shriek into their garageband, if the lo-fi-ness of the medium is convincing and sincere enough, half the battle is already won.

I'm not trying to defend the integrity of so many bedroom black metal assailants, (although it's hard for me not to like sad-sounding things) but I honestly don't think I'd enjoy Ildjarn nearly as much if Mike Portnoy played the drums and Andy Wallace mixed his records.

Todd said...

Right, I completely agree regarding the importance of the lo-fi aesthetic, and that Fenriz concept is really awesome. However, for my listening purposes, something like that is maybe the final five percent of the battle. I'm sure this is also ignorance, since I have very little knowledge of how production works and, as such, I have very little self-awareness of how my opinions are affected by production values.

Peter said...

dude, leave hardcore out of it

mahern4 said...

Anyone know of good 'classical blogs'? Similar to this download format? I've been looking for a while but cant find anything...lots of great jazz, but no classical. thanks!!

Todd said...

I wish I could help you mahern4, as I've been looking for something similar myself, as well as a good ghetto house blog. On the masterfade was great, but all of the links are dead.

If you know what you're looking for, the anus forums have a healthy stable of links for you.
Here.

SvartStøy said...

nice blog, i love the write up on this album, i can't wait to here it. I Personally love both Black Metal as well as Hardcore, but at the same time i couldn't agree with you more, thanks. Linked as well by the way.

Black Orchestra said...

Please don't ban or flame me for this, but I have to agree, bedroom BM bands aren't the greatest bands in the world, but at least they try. Reading a document written by Burzum, don't quote me on this, he said "everyone can sound like Darkthrone, but it wouldn't be your work." in other words, do your own thing, a "Do what thou wilt", if you will. Unfortunately, we have a limited number of things to sing/grunt about. Thank you for your time.

Todd said...

Don't worry BO, I'm not about to ban anybody, but I'm not really sure what you're saying.