Microforms #2: January 12, 2023

I used to write for a print magazine that covered a ton of Black Metal and harsh noise, and before deciding to review a demo or interviewing an artist, I’d (honestly, 90% of the time) have to search “[band name] Nazi.” Depressing times. So, it’s a complete breath of fresh air to come across a 130-track compilation of bands affiliated to Black metal via drone, dungeon synth, noise, and industrial, with their hearts and politics in the correct place – black metal/dungeon synth drone raising money for charities helping LGBTQ youth.

Penance “Stare Black Cat Petunias”

Beginning with a relatively gentle low fidelity rusty melodic guitar strum, things go barbed and unpleasant quick smart. Tied into, and simultaneously battered by, an anarchic rolling drum break, this duo strains against the form’s formal limits under a blackened glaze of wrecked guitar. Controlled fury flailing in chains, Penance Stare strains at the world’s and their own conceptions, abuse, and loathing. 

Lunar Cult “Upon Dark Wings”

If this hadn’t turned up on Black Metal Rainbows, this could safely pass for a piece of Gothic Euro synth pop. The head-down simplicity of the rhythm has a nod to the black stuff, but this is Dungeon Synth pixel roleplay music with chiptune colors. There are shades of grey / Fade to Grey cuteness here too, but Lunar Cult fantasies seem to involve picket lines and burning squad cars rather than dragons and shit.

Jude Gyte “Fausta In The Third Heaven”

Electronic black metal that pushes a painful piece of Ranaldo / Moore feedback loopage through a bed of cheap bass alongside splatter effect drums. Pretty brain-distorting at the right volume, Jude Gyte pushes an unsteady set of optical and sonic effects that pitch the listener off balance into a six-and-a-half-minute skew. A dizzyingly odd piece of extreme warp that pokes the brain to ensure it’s still setting off the wrong parts.

Last Days of Noise “S.S.M. Part One”

“WE PLAY FILTHY AND HATE NAZIS.” Puke-on-self vocals, an atrocious use of microphone technique, and drums hammered by straight-up bullies. A blitz of anti-ISM black metal punk that sounds like it was found in the trash rather than written, it’s an addictively fun mess that manages to stay on the rails for a full three minutes of its degeneracy.

Poppet “I Will Eat Your Bones in My Cabin of Old”

Somewhere on the route between this track’s synth medievalism melodies and RPG soundtrack, Poppet finds a kind of accidental delicacy with edges of eccentricity. While Black Metal Rainbows has its fair share of non-Black Metal weirdness, this spindly track’s first take / best take vibe is probably the compilation’s lightest and most open moment. Stumbling along through pauses and random pitch shifts, the track feels like an experiment gone right.

Noir Donjon “Aux cœurs qui pleurent seuls la nuit, les bras du Cornu, tels une affection”

If you had to tag it, Black synth probably fits best here – or maybe some variation on colder ambient. Noir Donjon’s great glacial keys overshadow everything throughout the track. This is a mountain range of Tangerine Dream worship where you can almost smell the haze and dry ice. With liquid bass running under dark ambient, there’s a balance in this clean production with its murkier themes. There are some occasional low-key distant vocals here too, but their humanity is muffled by the track’s sense of starkness and distance. 

Plague of Insomnia “In Molten Gold Annointed”

This is a slow-motion take on reality, a doomy mix of the grandly atmospheric and grainily tactile, rather than the title’s anticipated painful 1064°C splurge. A slightly off-kilter break anchors the electronic piece to a sense of the skew, the rise and fall melody keeping things unsteady.

Running throughout are snatches of vocal samples obscured through clipping and layering, disjointed thoughts captured but not clarified.

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