popculturebomb

Just another WordPress.com site

Post-Black Metal-Shoegaze

So, I haven’t talked about music very much on here, but I am into weird extreme stuff. Mostly metal, electronic, industrial or rock. I tend to hop around lots of different stuff, though. I’ve written about metal music academically, it wasn’t a terribly solid paper, but my professor liked it, so I may post it up online at some point. I’m a big fan of black metal, which is a hard thing to say in an academic world, or if you are trying to hit on women. But, I follow the music that I enjoy very closely. I don’t think I’m telling any tales out of school here, but academics are usually a few years behind what is happening in the underground, or at the very least, a few years behind the developing mainstream. Regardless, I try to stay connected. I have a very good local metal store, follow particular labels, jump around Youtube, and have some very hip friends who send me new music.

But, this is summer, and I’ve been very bored. So, I’ve taken to being annoying on Facebook as one of my new hobbies. The other day I posted this status update:

Basically, I was bullshitting. Completely and totally. I was simply trying to be annoying and say something completely absurd that my friends will look at and think me weird. It is a hobby. But then, a friend called me on my bluff, which I suppose by being a bullshitter, you are constantly asking for. I had to explain myself.

I had noticed a particular grouping of ‘French Post-Black Metal-Shoegaze’ artists being posted online in various different places. So, my status wasn’t coming out of no-where. And, for the record, I’ve only listened to a couple of the above mentioned bands. But, I had a bit of a Baader-Meinhoff moment. I saw all several bands from France with this very particular, somewhat bullshit genre title. The very idea of Post-black metal-shoegaze made me laugh, and that so many were from France made me laugh even further. Thus, the stupid status update.

However, I realized that some of the music I had been listening to in the last few days was falling into this genre distinction more and more. It wasn’t the bands above, but some other strange stuff that I downloaded just for the sake of trying something new.

So, for such a bullshit genre, why was I liking it so much? Shoegaze and Black Metal should NOT go together. Never ever. But this stuff works so well together, it blows me away.

I mean, just look at these totally hip dudes:

http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Deafheaven/3540315870

It isn’t exactly black metal. Even though it is just music, black metal isn’t about cool dudes with nice hair and ironed shirts.

And really, it isn’t all that dissimilar from the traditions that black metal has established for itself in the past, particularly the suicidal black metal sub-genre. Long, droning songs, incredible bleakness, and the general sense of melancholy that black metal and shoegaze are both known for. And yet, there is something very romantic to both genres. Romantic in the literary sense. To help define that, let’s go to Wikipedia:

In part, it was a revolt against aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment and a reaction against the scientific rationalization of nature.[2] The movement validated strong emotion as an authentic source of aesthetic experience, placing new emphasis on such emotions as trepidation, horror and terror and awe—especially that which is experienced in confronting the sublimity of untamed nature and its picturesque qualities, both new aesthetic categories. It elevated folk art and ancient custom to something noble, made of spontaneity a desirable character (as in the musical impromptu), and argued for a “natural” epistemology of human activities as conditioned by nature in the form of language and customary usage.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romanticism

An early post-black metal-shoegaze fan.

Strange bedfellows indeed, but perhaps not as strange as one would think. Is Deafheaven all that different from Xasthur?

Well, maybe a bit. Xasthur falls very firmly into the ‘suicidal black metal’ sub-genre. Some of the markers are there and some aren’t. The aesthetic is slightly different, but you can hear the basic framework, I think. But mix equal parts Xasthur with My Bloody Valentine…

I’m not listening to the French, however. That part is still bullshit to me. I’ll get to them someday (I’ll admit that French black metal is often overlooked and unappreciated…). I’m really loving two bands in this rather long and specific subgenre: Deafheaven from California (posted above), Cold Body Radiation from Holland, and Woods of Desolation from Australia. Hell, I’ll even throw in The Angelic Process as a similar act. Though, maybe it was Justin Broadrick’s band Jesu that helped to make Shoegaze a little more extreme. I’m sure he isn’t the first, but I remember a lot of cross-genre appeal to the Jesu releases (and I remember thinking that very strange).

And what makes something post-anything? Well you got me there. I’m not terribly sure. Taking the aesthetic of a particular genre, but doing something else with it? Post-punk isn’t very punk, now is it?

So, that is where I am right now. There is without a doubt more to be explored in this genre, and more to be discussed, but if I can at least share a couple of bands and the direction that music is going, I’ll be happy.

Not a terribly insightful post, but whatever. There are some excellent songs here.

And yes, Michael questioning the validity of shoegaze as a genre onto itself is rather humorous to me. And honestly, I couldn’t really think of many shoegaze bands to post in this in order to compare, but I remember the genre being very popular when I was an undgergrad in college (not popular at my college, but with cool people, as the genre had a bit of an emo-inspired resurgence).

Edit:

I keep coming back to this article for some reason. I think there are a lot of questions here worth exploring. Is it black metal? Is it even metal? How do we determine the differences and why? I might come back to this more later in a separate post, but these are just some notes.

Undoubtedly, I would say that this stuff is not black metal. At all. We all know that there is more to how we define music other than just its sound. I’m not sure I would even bother asking if my local metal shop had Deafheaven in stock, as opposed to a more traditional local music location. Maybe that is my own insecurities, though. I don’t know…I’ll figure something out later.

Advertisements

One response to “Post-Black Metal-Shoegaze

  1. Jeremy June 30, 2011 at 6:30 am

    The type of music being decribed here is probably not metal with its ironic detachment and generally dissipated character, but it represents not only a fusion of black metal and shoegaze but an amplification of the musical elements of black metal that diverge from the major trajectory of metal development toward greater heaviness. Ross Hagen analyzes these elements in his chapter in Metal Rules the Globe (see http://www.metalrulestheglobe.com). Aural muddiness (“atmosphere”) has always been a hallmark of black metal; these bands just take it to a logical extreme, producing music that is devoid of metal’s romantic heroism and only laments the inevitability of decay and demise.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: