Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ash Borer - MMIX - MMXI

"‘I love humanity,’ he said, ‘but I wonder at myself. The more I love humanity in general, the less I love man in particular[...]yet I am incapable of living in the same room with any one for two days together, as I know by experience. As soon as any one is near me, his personality disturbs my self-complacency and restricts my freedom. In twenty-four hours I begin to hate the best of men: one because he's too long over his dinner; another because he has a cold and keeps on blowing his nose. I become hostile to people the moment they come close to me. But it has always happened that the more I detest men individually the more ardent becomes my love for humanity.’ ”

Perhaps, just perhaps, more than any other style of music, black metal contains this similar paradox as outlined by Dostoevsky in The Brothers Karamazov. Now, we're not talking the highfalutin crap that Liturgy claims with its brand of "transcendental black metal" (don't click the link if you actually enjoy their music; it's devastating) but more so the eventual paradox of being a misanthrope yet keeping friends. A celebration of life is obvious in black metal's very Romantic tropes revolving around nature as well as its disdain for life revolving around, well, death. Does this mean Shelley would of liked black metal? I don't know, but what I do know is in its infancy, black metal never strove to make something "beautiful," "enthralling," or "somber." Instead, early acts (first and most second wave) looked to the morbid, the occult and sinister nature of things, mostly for shock value, but eventually in some sort of pseudo post-teenage angst as we saw with bands like Burzum. To avoid a history lesson I'll sum it up by saying, like anything that's given time to develop, evolve, or mature, black metal has explored such a wide variety of emotions and topics that bands like  Ash Borer fully embody in a  multifaceted sound in terms of emotion. On the surface, to be so ugly because of its hollow production, craggy/fuzzy guitars, cacophonous drums and distant screams, Ash Borer ultimately create something sublime in the face of what some might call "harsh."

The whole west coast of the States seems to be a hotbed for brilliant black metal. Some will go on for ages about the absolutely mediocre Weakling, while others overlook the genius of acts like Leviathan and Ceremonial Castings and the current groups like Fell Voices, Leech, and of course Ash Borer. And while I like all the bands mentioned , it's Ash Borer's recent collection done by Land of Decay that's got me absolutely hooked.

von Trier's Antichrist is a nice visual companion to Ash Borer
The sound of celebration and loss come together as one with Ash Borer's collected works. At times triumphant and harmonious, other times somber and bleak, Ash Borer are able to explore and conceptualize the sounds of the human heart, both in strife and in joy. The beauty the band possess is much in the same vein that Eliot's The Waste Land is hauntingly beautiful. Melodic nuisances surge back and forth, to crumble and decay, then to build up once again to momentous breaks. Invoking damp soil beneath your feet, fluttering wings in the distance and decayed timber; Ash Borer create long, winding songs that are completely absorbing and mysterious.

I probably sound like I've been drinking Chai tea all day and reading poetry, but I'm dead serious about all that Ash Borer invoke and achieve. The band is on the cusp at the most fruitful time for black metal in America and I can only hope they continue to elaborate on their sound and approach.


Andrew Childers said...

you fucker! i've had that ivan speech in my quote file for a couple years now just waiting for the right chance to use it. guess i'll have to scratch it. both you and nigel are horning on my dostoevky + metal turf. i may have to do something about that.

nice use of antichrist. i'm on pins and needles waiting to see how long it will take "melancholia" to show up in my local art house theater.

Andrew Childers said...

btw, just to show off my nerd bonafides, that sounds like the andrew macandrew translation. it's one of my favorites. am i right?

Perpetual Strife said...

I don't know much about von Trier, but that movie screams black metal, almost in an amateurishness way. Melancholia looks very good and I'm very intrigued by it, more so than I was for Antichrist.

The Brothers Kazoo quote is actually Constance Garnett.I received an ipad as a gift and figured i should try it out to replace a Russian novel in my bag. Old, outdated translations are free, thus this one.

I default to you and ask, should I go for a particular translation as this one might hamper my enjoyment? I'm only about a fifth of the way through.

Let me know, as I know with Kafka, some translations aren't worth much.

Andrew Childers said...

constance garnett is also good. she's the other one i always read.

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