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Sunday Song: Scandinavian Black

Lockwood found this simply awesome map of metal. I knew, from the instant I saw his tweet, what it was mapping.

Disappointed to find "World Map of Heavy Metal Mensity" not about ores. Also, what is with Scandinavia? http://t.co/bhes3593
@lockwooddewitt
Lockwood DeWitt

The majority of my favorite metal comes from the Scandinavian countries. So, of course, all I have to see in proximity are the words “heavy metal” and “Scandinavia” and I’m happily singing in the dark.

Right. So the article says Finland leads. Let’s have some Finnish metal, then, shall we? Dear fuck, this is hard – lots of my favorites hail from Helsinki or, y’know, other Finnish cities. But I think we’ll go with Nightwish this time round, as they’ve been a favorite for years. Until Tarja left, anyway.

One of my favorite songs ever. And a celebration of sin seems suitable for a Sunday, eh?

Right. On to Sweden, coming in a close second… There’s a few I could’ve gone with, but we’ll do Draconian. I bloody love Draconian. Perfect for when I want moody, atmospheric, dark-as-hell music. And while you get the song immediately, I just spent twenty minutes agonizing before deciding it absolutely must be “Seasons Apart.”

Shivers. Veritable shivers. Indubitably.

Norway’s next. Oh, Norway. The vast majority of my metal comes from Norway. How in hell do I choose between them all? (Cue agonized death-metal scream.) Emperor, which was my gateway drug? Dimmu Borgir, my favorite-ever black metal band in the entire universe? About a billion others… No. No, it has to be Dismal Euphony, because I don’t think they get half the credit they deserve.

That, my darlings, is one of those black metal songs that leaves me so in love with life, because it reminds me how very fragile life is. I think it’s one of their best, but it’s not their most technically complex song. Don’t let me forget to put “Carven” up as one of our Sunday Songs someday.

And then, Iceland. I looked over the Iceland list and realized I haven’t heard a single band from Iceland. How sad is that? I sampled a few. None of them tickled my fancy, until I came across XIII‘s “Cat.” Dude. That’s my cat they’re singing about!

Sweet! And kinda catchy. Or is that “cat-chy.” Ahaha.

We have barely scratched the surface that is the dark awesomeness that is Scandinavia. We must do this again sometime. And for those of you who went, “Meh. Not my cup of tea,” do not be so hasty. I used to hate black metal. But my roommate played Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk three times on three different occasions, and on the third, I was kneeling beside his desk scribbling down the band’s name and the album and resolving to buy it forthwith. It could happen to you, too.

And yeah, not all of this was black metal, admittedly. But still. Awesome.

Comments

  1. Paul says

    The Icelandic band that jumped out at me are Sólstafir.

    They started off as Black/Viking metal but have shifted towards that wonderful dreamy Icelandic post rock sound. The intermediate result is pretty enjoyable (album art image may be NSFW… although if you work somewhere you can listen to metal then it’s probably fine). Their latest album is probably more for fans of Agalloch (American, BM/folk/doom), Alcest (French BM/Shoegaze) and bands of that stripe. But then that’s a style I’d recommend for pretty much anyone.

  2. Jusubaba says

    Here’s my recommendations.

    From Finland:
    Amorphis. Finnish folk music influenced Progressive metal.

  3. aspidoscelis says

    Meh. I listen to a fair amount of metal, but most of what I’ve heard from Scandinavia doesn’t interest me much. The videos above have further confirmed this impression. Too melodic and poppy. What’s the point of metal if it isn’t unsettling and aggressive?

    I’ll go listen to some Meshuggah now…

        • Marshall says

          Indeed, Bloodbath does old-school death metal like nobody’s business. Mikael Åkerfeldt did some of his most skin crawlingly brutal vocal work within that band.

          I’m seeing Opeth and Mastodon on Wednesday, should be great times. If you haven’t hear ‘Heritage’ by Opeth yet, I really can’t recommend it enough. It’s not anywhere near as heavy as most of their stuff, but it’s certainly heavier than, say, ‘Damnation’, and I can’t help but grin every time the ‘God is dead’ chorus of ‘The Devil’s Orchard’ comes around…

        • Marshall says

          Oh yeah, I certainly don’t mean to imply otherwise.

          There are so many great metal bands from Scandinavia. If you don’t like pop oriented stuff, I suggest you check out the following (assuming you haven’t already, I don’t mean to presume you are ignorant of anything, just hoping that at you would like and are unfamiliar with at least a few of these):

          The Haunted

          While their newer stuff took too steep a dive into metalcore territory for my tastes, their earlier stuff is some brilliant thrashy madness. One Kill Wonder is particularly great, but their self titled debut melts mountains.

          Dark Tranquility

          Melodic, yes, but you’d never be able to accuse them of sounding poppy. Pretty much the standard for melodeath stuff, along with At the Gates (also from Sweden) and a lot of Carcass (ditto).

          Amon Amarth

          Viking metal. Your mileage may vary, but I fucking love these guts, and they KILL live.

          Anata

          Far less well known. Absolute madness. If you like Meshuggah, I see no reason why you shouldn’t LOVE Anata.

          Impaled Nazerene

          Finnish. I know a lot of people who don’t generally like this band, but I think they’re actually quite good, if a bit derivative.

          Hypocrisy

          See Dark Tranquility. Melodic, but hardly poppy in any sense other than song structure. Not as technical or out there as Meshuggah, but worthwhile.

          Darkane

          I love this band so much. I saw them and Hypocrisy live a few years back, and they fucking DESTROY. I hardly feel I could say anything that wouldn’t be better expressed simply by linking to this.

          The Crown

          Now defunct, I believe, but consistently awesome.

          Burst

          Sadly no longer a band. Origo is a beast of an album, the percussion is almost overwhelmingly jazzy and technical. The vocals are a little ‘core’ oriented, but that should hardly be reason to prevent giving them a look.

          There are far too many more for me to even BEGIN to list, as the map makes clear. Again, I don’t mean to presume that you are ignorant of any of the above, I just love metal and like to point out bands to people that they may not have heard. I hope that at least one or two of the above bands are worth your time according to your own subjective measure.

          Hail, as they say.

          • Marshall says

            LOL, that ‘guts’ under Amon Amarth should be ‘guys’. Strangely appropriate typo, though.

    • dorfl says

      While we’re at it, I was thinking about whether to link to this nitpick about how Scandinavia is defined.