Changing of Seasons

Things have been quiet of late. Most of my time has been focused on my new job and metal musings for Metal Bandcamp as that site and my passion for it grows. Proper reviews may still occasionally pop up here, but not as consistently as they once did. In terms of the music I’ve been listening to, I have been trying to split my time between the latest/greatest and lesser-known gems I may have skipped over in years past. Three releases in particular have grabbed and held my attention as I continue to explore the annals of black metal’s more melodic and experimental side.

The first may be well-known to anyone who digs deep into the side-project world, but 15 years later it still strikes me as an incredibly unique listening experience. Diabolical Masquerade was a project of Anders Nyström of Katatonia and the prodigious Dan Swanö. It takes a goofy, less serious approach to black metal; filling it circus-like symphonics and off the wall compositions. Their 1998 final proper album Nightwork perfected their sound and is a must for anyone who needs a break from bullet belts and christbashing.

The next album I found laying in the depths of the internet is Black Lotus’ Harvest of Seasons. The short-lived Canadian group managed to pull off a fantastic piece of atmospheric black metal for their swan song, focusing on the seasons and the natural changes undertaken by the world on a yearly basis. It’s an uplifting, majestic journey. Unfortunately the album is almost impossible to find as their label pulled all digital rights for it (aforementioned new job is in the digital music world, so I get to see firsthand how these things work), but if you can track it down I can give you my word you will not be disappointed.

Finally, we travel back to Europe for a band that is very much alive and kicking. Norwegian/English group Code just released the fantastic Augur Nox a few days ago, but it’s their 2009 album Resplendent Grotesque that really caught my ears. In the vein of Enslaved of Borknagar, the band shines black metal’s rough patches to a glimmer and fills them with clean singing and slick guitar work. They’ve undergone massive lineup changes and take roughly four years between albums, so it’s safe to say the band will not likely outdo their sophomore masterpiece.

Look for my end of year list in the next three weeks or so. It may be a bit later this year as I’m trying to absorb everything I still need to pick up and be more mindful of what music truly affects me. My top five or so have been set in stone for the past few months and while I don’t expect those to change I look forward to organizing and reflecting on all the rest.

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