Dissection - News
BMR: Frigid Winds Of Death Edition (DISSECTION, SAMAEL, OLD MAN'S CHILD)
Welcome, welcome...all you harbingers of cold hearts and warm hate. Apologies for the first official edition of this winter-themed column coming when winter is already more than halfway over. We shall do our best to make up for the tardiness by squeezing more Reports into a shorter time.
This first Report of the season has to do with a day back in late November during which it seemed winter announced its arrival, brutally and unmistakably. Any Michigan residents can attest to the schizophrenic nature of the climate here. Indeed, one of our favorite sayings is, "if you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes." But I cannot think of any other day that embodies that phrase so literally.
*When I first stepped out into the predawn darkness to start my workday, it was cold...but that is hardly surprising given the time of year. It was as the day progressed that the climate changes became so swift, repetitive, and jarring.*
I decided to start my shift (I am a driver) with a true classic. Right around the time Norwegian collectives like Mayhem, Immortal and Emperor were working on their first recordings, Sweden's Dissection, under the leadership of mainman/visionary Jon Nodtveidt, were perfecting the ultimate mix of black and death metal in the form of THEIR first album, 1993's The Somberlain. Their sound would be imitated by dozens (if not hundreds) of bands over the years.
Dissection only put out two records before Nodtveidt was arrested and jailed for murder. Long story short: Their music would achieve legendary status while Nodtveidt was in prison. He got out in 2004, and apparently had fallen victim to his own hype. Backed by a new band, he put out some atrociously mediocre material under the Dissection banner, no one gave a shit (or they outright hated it)...and he ended up committing suicide in 2006. A pity. But again, through just under 90 minutes of released music, Dissection almost invented their own sub-genre of extreme metal. The Somberlain is a milestone, complete with a typically staggering cover painting by Kristian Wåhlin (aka Necrolord), but the band's brush with true, undiluted perfection would come with their next record.
NOTE: If you are able, try to get your hands on the sweet, 2006 reissue of the album through The End Records. It includes an extra CD of EP, demo, live and rehearsal recordings.
*One of the reasons the windy onslaughts hit me so hard was because a lot of my day consisted of driving through the countryside, meaning that I wasn't really in touch with how the day felt outside my vehicle. It just looked like a sunny, fall day...until I reached a stop and opened my truck door...*
There are certain bands, like Behemoth and Belphegor, who started out playing pure black metal, and then morphed their sound into something else. In the case of the aforementioned two bands, they became this delicious black/death metal hybrid, and the fans went along for the ride. However...there are also those bands that start as pure darkness and evil...and then change their sound so significantly that they lose a lot of their original fans.
Such a band is Switzerland's Samael. While I myself kinda dig the spacier, more electronic-oriented journey they began over 25 years ago (see? Unlike with Celtic Frost, this is a new direction I DID like)...I think I am in the minority as far as their original fan base goes. So...we went all the way back to 1991 for Samael's debut album, Worship Him. It is a sinister, foreboding masterwork. No trace of prog or synthesizers here. Just a primitive, terrifying truthfulness of darkness. One which almost entirely forsakes speed and chaos for a doom-filled, Satanic journey, almost feeling like a march towards an inevitable and fiery fate. Raw yet controlled, time has been incredibly kind to this remarkable debut album.
*Seriously...I would step out of my truck into the sunlight, and it was quite pleasant...but then the wind came. Mercilessly fast. And I swear the temperature would drop 20°. And that's while the sun was out and beating down on me...*
Before Dimmu Borgir was wise enough to recruit the immensely-talented Thomas Rune Anderson (known throughout the metal world as Galder) to join as a guitarist, he had already recorded and released four albums with his flagship band. It really is rather amazing. Old Man's Child is a more-often-than-not one-man-plus-drummer project. Sometimes he has a full compliment of metallic warriors. Sometimes not. OMC's debut album, Born Of The Flickering (1996) is, as Spock said in the first Star Trek movie, "primitive yet kindred" in terms of what Dimmu was doing at the time. Classical black metal with just a hint of keyboards (and in Old Man's Child's case, even a trace of folksiness).
And, interestingly enough, if you compare the two, this actually displays more confidence than, say, Dimmu's Stormblast, at least as far as the consistency of the assault, and especially in the many melodies present in each song.
NOTE: Galder has truly worked with a "who's who" when it comes to metal drummers. Born of the Flickering features Tjodalv (Dimmu Borgir, Susperia).
*...It was when it would cloud over and the gusts came that I could truly feel the winter. It seeped into my bones. If winter were a tidal wave, those moments felt like being on the beach as the waters receded, and you can see it on the horizon...Suffice to say, I was quite glad when I climbed into the cab after my last stop. Then it was home to a shower and soup and many beers and a horror movie or two.*
I ended the workday with the second album from Samael. And yes, I realize I had JUST listened the to the first one. See note below.
Anyway...Blood Ritual (1992) is still very much rooted in black metal. It was released barely a year after their debut. It is obviously quite similar, but the production is a lot cleaner. PLUS the songs are charged with a lot more...I guess "swagger" might be the best word? The darkness and blackest of occult magicks still blanket the proceedings, but the songs are positively groove-ridden this time around. One might even say they "swing"....Or not. Pay me no mind. Just listen to old Samael. Hail Satan. Their next album would bring worldwide recognition...although their ties to the Abyss would start to fray and fall away not long after that.
NOTE: My copy of Blood Ritual came in a swell 2-pack with Samael's first album, Worship Him. In case you were wondering why the Reports on the two albums always come so close together time-wise...
As always, thanks for reading. I realize the catalyst for this particular Report was the climate in my homeland. The next Report will focus on the earliest years of the still-vibrant Michigan Black Metal scene.
In the meantime, stay frosty...