Winter is a Time of Reflection. And Suffering. And Satan.

A holiday guest music post from dhex!

Indie pop productions require more insight as to the song and lyrics and what kind of feeling the songwriter’s trying to evoke. When you’re recording a metal band you KNOW what feeling they’re trying to evoke. You just think ‘Satan, Satan, Satan.’ When you’re eq’ing the bass, you’re like ‘Satan, Satan, Satan.’ The snare drum – ‘Satan, Satan.’ It’s more the technical challenge of, ‘How do I achieve the maximum amount of Satan?’

– Kurt Ballou, describing his approach to engineering in an interview with Tape Op.

The winter holiday season is a grim and emotionally frostbitten time. It is a time to renew old grudges; to swallow hatreds for the sake of appearance; to suffer fully the petty onslaught of those to whom you are bound by stupid oaths; to feel truly and fully the numbing, meaningless spectacle that is your life.

Let us sample this maximum amount of Satan together.

In an attempt to avoid the “no politics” decree, I will not discuss the implications of featuring Burzum in a post about bleak winter musics. If the Light Takes Us is a good documentary that you can get into if you want to get into it. The film got a lot of hate from idiots for not explicitly saying “This guy is a lousy human being!” so keep that in mind.

Much like Death in June (But, What Ends When the Symbols Shatter?), Burzum has one good album (Until the Light Takes Us). Unlike DiJ, there’s not a whole lot else to say about the guy. But this album rips hard like the winds of winter, and shrieks a lot, also like the winds of winter. It has a cool title. Also unlike DiJ, it may be his only cool album title.

Skeuomorphicizing winter is a key part of the approach to this great three-track EP by Sutekh Hexen, who have a spaghetti noodle logo and everything. But they’re not so much black metal as blackened noise, and the Satan is filtered pretty heavily through a hazy approach to non-fidelity as an aesthetic. I highly recommend their work, paired with awful in-laws and too much cough syrup.

Sometimes you need a hyperpriapic spray of pre-Christian seed upon a sea of asexual holiday knitwear birthed from the nihilistic womb-tomb of someone’s need to sell hideous sweaters to everyone’s aunts. Thanks dead guys from Coil!

Sometimes I get real tired of all the Norsing around many of these bands do, but for all the generally-OK-but-largely-unremarkable work Seidr has put out, I still like sense of tuneful hopelessness in this track. There are probably better Kentucky blackened bluegrass something something something bands out there, like Panopticon, but that’s your problem, not mine.

Not actually “SATAN!” so much as a whispered “shhhh satan shhhhhhhh”, Tim Hecker does both “summer” and “winter” albums. Virgins is a winter album, and has an air of “regrettable sexual experimentation with your cousin at your grandmother’s house that one year when everyone was drinking schnapps”. You know what I mean.

If I had a Tumblr, I might call Leviathan “problematic”. I don’t, so I think he’s probably an a-hole. But this song, from a split LP with fellow one-man-many-Xanax band Xasthur, is excellent. He’s also really good at album titles. Howl Mockery at the Cross? You know a title is good when you wish it was a person so you could high-five it.

This has the whiff of old people waltzing in slow motion at a VFW hall Christmas Dance while their bodies start ebola-ing all sorts of crazy stuff from their eyes and who knows what else.

You have beaten back the light, only to be dragged in by the grimmest of obligations – a party for distant relatives. You armor mind and body with multiple Darkthrone tapes/patches. You get to the party, but all the old relatives you did like are dead.

Only the awful ones remain.

Recoiling from these iridescent truths, burning in the light they shine on your weakness and frailty, you think “Why can’t I live in a world where Vashti Bunyan is my mother-in-law? That would be nice.”

Why not? Because that world is a lie. Because you are as nothing. Your longings are a chain that ties you to a body, and like that body they will rot before your eyes. Only death can save you now.

Happy holidays!

Post Image Header: Black Metal Snowman Sweater, available from Shredders Apparel.

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12 thoughts on “Winter is a Time of Reflection. And Suffering. And Satan.

  1. Oooooh, that Tim Hecker is nice. So’s the Seidr, and the Vashti Bunyan (though I often have a kneejerk reaction against anything described as “folk”, much less “freak-folk”.) Not sure how I feel about the Coil, I am listening to it again now – I could do without that ending, I think.

    You know, there’s a record I wanted to put in my year-end list, but it just stuck out there like a sore thumb. I think it will go nicely in here though.

    What with the Satan and all.

    (NSFW, probably):

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    • that’s pretty good. i think chelsea wolfe is kinda hit or miss – lady sings through muddy reverb is probably an entire genre at this point – but i do like her overall aesthetic even if i find the music is often lacking.

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  2. I was going to say that “How do I achieve the maximum amount of Satan?” was pretty much the goal of early childhood CCD classes as well, but that would violate the No Religion rule. So I’m just going to say that I’m working my way through these.

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