Unearthing The Metal Underground: The Non-Traditional Black Metal Scene
Record sales may be dropping and labels may be on the verge of extinction, but the underground metal scene is still a thriving and vibrant place where musical innovation continues to occur. Every Monday we dig deep into the underground to unearth three bands you may not have had the chance to check out yet, but which deserve to be heard.
It’s no secret I dig bands that mix it up and don’t stick to one straight style, having previously unearthed avant-garde bands, a handful of genre flip-floppers, metal outfits that experiment with non-traditional sounds, and those bands that just plain ignore musical trends.
Today you’ll get another dose of heavy music that doesn’t play by the normal genre rules. These three bands may all technically be black metal, but they push that definition to its limits and sometimes even well beyond!
This German act is currently with Code666 records, which is a smaller label in the grand scheme of things, but it still has some very solid underground acts known for combining sub-genres and mixing up their sounds.
Todtgelichter has four full-length releases under its belt, having just dropped new album “Apnoe” this year (reviewed here). “Apnoe” is definitely less raucous and battering than previous releases, occasionally dropping out the black metal altogether, just to bring it back in at unexpected times to barrel over an unsuspecting audience. The harsh vocals are present but take a back seat to clean male and female singing, accompanied by atmospheric and calm parts that give off a modern-era Anathema vibe.
Keep up with the latest on Todtgetlichter at Facebook and be sure to check out a track from the current album and its predecessor “Angst” below.
U.K. genre mashers Code recently signed to Agonia Records and are due to release a third album (and follow-up to the “Resplendent Grotesque” full-length) later this year.
Code definitely exists in a place outside the norm for traditional black metal – for starters there’s an honest-to-Lucifer bass presence! – but is still very clearly inspired by the classics of the genre, even if there is a good deal of clean singing. Code likes to throw curveballs, including oddly off-kilter acoustic parts just to keep the audience off balance and expecting the unexpected.
You can see what’s happening with Code’s new album at this location, or check out some music in the YouTube clips provided. First off listen to “Jesus Fever” from “Resplendent Grotesque,” which features more of the avant-garde and clean elements than many other songs on the album:
And also get a sneak preview of the upcoming new, and as-yet-untitled, album here:
The closest to the traditional freezing cold metal band you’ll see in today’s lineup comes in the form of the Swedish monstrosity IXXI. Maybe best described as black ‘n roll, IXXI still keeps the emphasis firmly on the “black” part! This band’s music is still fully extreme and devastating, and you’ll hear clear echoes of Marduk, it’s just more memorable and catchy than anything from the average black metal act.
IXXI has three full-length albums filled to the brim with gurgling, blood-soaked vocals, with the latest release “Elect Darkness” (reviewed here) coming out back in 2009. The band apparently broke up after the album’s release when vocalist Totalscorn abruptly left, but reactivated last year and has since played a few gigs. Unfortunately it’s unclear if a new official release will be on the horizon. While we play the waiting game, give a listen to two tracks off “Elect Darkness” here:
These are but three of the many black metal bands out there that have evolved beyond the standard definition of the genre. Let us know what you thought of these picks, and be sure to recommend some of your own in the comments below. If you can’t get enough of the metal underground, be sure to check back in next Monday as we unearth another batch of bands.
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