Games Meet Metal: 1349's Demonoir and Watain's Lawless Darkness-The Riff Dual Review

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Monday, May 10, 2010

1349's Demonoir and Watain's Lawless Darkness-The Riff Dual Review

I was never the listener fan of black metal. Well, except for the more symphonic end of the genre. Dimmu Borgir and Satyricon were usually the bands that always got my ear, with Cradle of Filth somewhere off in the distance. These bands have a decent enough budget to give great production to their music, and the song writing skills to boot. Let's not forget equally great live shows. Beyond those bands, I'd be hard pressed to listen to much else from the black metal pool.

Oh I've tried cuing up old ass Emporer and Darkthrone, but one thought always kept creeping back to me: these bands sound like shit! Crap production values are the main culprit. All the instruments always sounded muddled together like someone fell asleep at the mixing table. Also, the vocals usually sound like a mess and damn near unintelligible. I know what most black vocalists are gonna say anyways. Usually something along the lines of "blah blah denounce God blah blah Satan's awesome blah blah time for cake." That's all well and good, as anything that pisses off the clergy is awesome in my book. I just wished I knew what they were saying that was pissing them off so much.

Now it looks like things may be changing as far as my black metal fandom is concerned, as I've gotten my frostbitten mits on a pair of cd's that cast the genre in a different light (er, blackness) for me.

First up is Norway's 1349 and their latest cd Demonoir, out now on Prosthetic Records. The first thing that hit me was,"Fuck, these guys are heavy!" And not just heavy to piss off God, these guys sound like they were meant for the concert stage. Even better is that someone sounds like they did a better job at the mixing board, as each instrument is recognizable from each other. Lead singer Ravn's vocals tend to get a bit muffled here and there, but nowhere near that of a typical Immortal album. The music itself relates more to older black metal. In other words, no symphonic elements, and only light uses of piano and the occasional acoustic guitar. So that makes it all crushing guitar and searing drums all the time. Fine by me, as long as they keep the heavy coming.

Next up is Sweden's Watain and their latest cd Lawless Darkness, which will be out on June 7 via Seasons of Mist. Watain aren't as heavy or fast as 1349, but tend to have a lot more melody in their songs. Watain take their time with their songs, as their slower pace lets you appreciate their complex guitar work. Like 1349, they're old school blackness, so no symphonics once again. On the production side, all the guitars and drums are once again very clean. Plus, you can also hear vocalist E's lyrics perfectly. And oh my, is that the occasional guitar solo I hear? Damn, Dimmu never soloed one fucking bit!

If you were gonna put a  Satanic bible to my head and make me choose which cd would be played during my damnation, I'd picked 1349 slightly over Watain, but by much. Both bands and their latest releases are both solid slabs of evil, and can even serve as a decent primer for someone's first steps into the world of black metal.

Order Demonoir from Prosthetic Records.

Pre-order Lawless Darkness from Seasons of Mist.

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