Ok, let’s now try (for the second time) to translate one of my reviews in english. I hope i’ll have more visitors than usual ! ahah
This is the second review in English, after the review of Njiqahdda’s “the path…”. So if ebglish is your mother-tongue, please contact me if you see too much mistakes !
And now for something completely different :
THE CASCADIAN BLACK-METAL
My whole “I-love-nature” side gives me the urge to share with you a less known style of BM, the “cascadian black metal”. Mainly because it is a genre that is poorly know here in France, and because more than a style (which is not really one) there is a whole ecological movement behind this designation.
What is Cascadia?
It is a bioregion including some of the US and Canada Northwest territories. (a bioregion is a territory which borders are defined by climate and environmental features. I won’t go here into the controversy of bioregionalism, because the issues are many, and especially political.) Cascadia is composed of British Columbia, Washington State and Oregon, states in which lies the mountain range of the Cascades, hence the name. This is mainly an environmental anti-globalization movement – usually called the “Cascadian Movement.” This blog is dedicated to music, so I will not do a thorough analysis of everything this movement represents, but I will say that by extension, the movement has created a new way of thinking about the environment through its natural borders and thus helped to involve the entire population to focus more on the preservation of its land. Here, I can only make this quick representation, because this blog is about music, but the topic is interesting, and if you want to go further, you can visit the following website: http://cascadianow.org/
What about Black-Metal?
Unconcerned about ecology, and rather busy sacrificinf virgins to Satan (note that black masses are often held in snowy forests, so we can almost assume that the connection with nature is there somehow!), black-metal always tried to share its awareness about what the environment has to offer. Scandinavian Mountains , long meditative walks along the fjords … But the Americans especially wanted to make one with the lush nature that is so present in their country.
If you make some researches about the history of Cascadian Black Metal , you will see that a band called Threnos was the initiator of this genre. But this band only released a hard-to-find demo, which i never heard, so I can not tell you what the exact musical content is. What I do know is that the members of this band have created Fauna and Echtra , and later the most known Skagos.
However, even uf though most Cascadian Black Metal bands share a common musical guideline , we can not really call it a “genre”. The bands wanted to express, through their songs, their close relationship with nature. So the tracks are long, very long, with very marked folk influences. One could call it Atmospheric Black Metal. So yes, those bands represent more an ideology than a musical style. Thus some bands claim they are making “Cascadian Black Metal” even though they are not American (which is, to me, an aberration – you can always support a cause, or be a carrier of ideologies , but it seems that being native from his own bioregion is a major asset, specifically in this context) Thus i curiously saw someone mentioning Altar Of Plagues to be a Cascadian BM band..?!
Anyway, hee are the bands that are, to me, the most representative of this scene, and the best to begin with :
Wolves In The Throne Room, whose commitment to the environment is known (the band has been created during a Earth First meeting http://www.earthfirst.org/ http://laterredabord.fr/ ) I already talked about them here. No doubt the right band to explore this scene.
Skagos – the precursors – whose latest album Anarchic is particularly successful. 2 tracks for a length of one hour! Nonetheless, it seems too short so one can say that the album is effective. I must say that the folk / black mix is well done, and Skagos is a band that should be known better. This is their second album, and we understand why they took nearly five years to make it. The songs are well composed, folk passages are as heady as the black parts are brutal. However, despite the incredible work , I would not advise this album to someone who is not familiar with the genre.
Panopticon – This band is the work of one man. The work on the album “Kentucky” is so immense and unbelievable that one wonders how one person alone could have done this masterpiece . Brilliantly mixing country and black metal (!) Panopticon is a band everyone should listen to.
Agalloch – Directly inspired by the forests of their state, Agalloch delivers a complex music, very elaborate, bypassing all the clichés of the genre. While most black metal bands add folk passages, Agalloch seems rather do the opposite, which is putting in their folk atmosphere some black passages. It takes time to understand the music of Agalloch, but one must learn to take time and listen to their stories. Listen to The Mantle.
To go further :
Google is your friend, but you can go through that list even though i don’t always agree with the bands that are in it. Cascadia is a concept far from our European precepts. First, our environment is not the same as in the U.S. And our culture, which has a bad habit to mix ecology and politics. From here, the Cascadien movement can be seen as a localized Greenpeace ersatz. It’s much more than that. It is a return to pure nature, without political or social oppression. In the whole history of music, I do not remember a region gaving birth to a musical style.