New year, new you. So far they’ve got me on this new SSRI and I dared to venture somewhere I would have never considered two months ago – outside. Your half hermit, half grandma doubled up on pills and sweaters and actually accepted a Facebook invite from That Local Show Guy™. In-staters Thou sadly had to drop off—I reckon due to visa issues traveling from Baton Rouge to New Orleans—but Western neighbors Dead to a Dying World managed to come through…and I’ve apparently been lobotomized to the point of making dad jokes. Hi, Tired – I’m Lexapro.
In any event, the doomy six piecer was a real crowd pleaser, serving as an even greater sign of the times. Filling the stage comfortably with six somber characters—including dual vocalists and a fiddler—Dead delivered some Eluveitie vibes – that is, if they had matured like sugary grapes in the journey from cultivation to delivery. As an added bonus, after years of live orchestra being integrated into metal, it seems as though we’ve finally been up to mix violin in such a way that it doesn’t get lost in the sauce.
As I teased in my year end list with the inclusion of criminally underrated Grift and Eneferens, the melancholic folk movement seems to be climbing steadily up the mountain. I’ve grown fond of this tag because it more effectively encapsulates the modern state of folk in metal, which isn’t necessarily Folk Metal as we’ve traditionally known it. The less-is-more approach to the hybrid that we’re seeing in 2018 generates the proper cadence for contemplating our origins; instead of replicating the brutality, we’ve reached the point in evolution when we can begin to consider the why’s.
And evolution are we living, indeed; after retracting back into my turtle shell after the show, I managed to refrain from anxiety clicking through the weird side of YouTube (which is pretty much all of YouTube these days) and watched an entire film on Netflix like a cultured human being. Super Dark Times (2017) is a narrative of early sapiens, as told through the extended metaphor of modern frontal lobe-challenged youths tangled in a web of hegemonic masculinity. I don’t want to spoil too much in case it’s still lurking in your list, but the recurring symbol of the sword is overt enough to be recognizable, but also restrained enough to allow the audience to form its own interpretations.
I appreciate when obtuse profanity or gore facilitates insight because fuck, I’m at the age now where my lobe is starting to turn to firm tofu and I don’t have much patience for the alternative. Teenage boys talking about smoking blunts and fucking bitches in the woods holds my attention a lot more when their bloody fate is the result of their internalized id and not just some underdeveloped ax-wielding wild man. I can’t help but find the former more frightening. On the same accord, eight layers of blast beats, battle cries, and hurdy-gurdies just don’t do it for me in the same way that they did during fleeting movements of my youth.
Oh hey; look at that – I’m feeling an emotion. Excitement, maybe? In 2018, the path is being carved in a different direction. We’re taking the roots from which we’ve sprouted and re-routing them with a sprinkle of self-awareness to integrate folk into metal in such a way that not only bears more nutrient-dense fruit, but stands the test of the seasons.
To keep the spirit alive, here are some sweet samplings of how the simpler times seem to be bleeding into metal to create a whole new blood type of its own.
If there’s one way to describe Dead to a Dying World, it’s patient. During their live performance, both vocalists periodically dropped to their knees in contemplation as they awaited their turn to contribute. Garnering the ability to closely listen—especially to one’s own work—conjures the humility needed to understand how the root of darkness lies within its growth process and not just at its seed.
Switching gears from orchestral to acoustic, Ofdrykkja is a master of the oscillating palate cleansing necessary for sustained tasting. However, that’s not to say that scenes are disjointed. As a serenade takes a turn for the abrasive, the original kernel is not lost, but rather, expanded.
Last but certainly not least, 000 comes at us with contributions like “Decay” – a plodding rhythm that evokes the unrelenting brutality of Viking times without wielding a single horn. While noise projects are generally ultramodern, 000 scrubs out some of the unnecessary layers, leaving us with a frightening ancestral Skelton.
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