Left Hip

Writing about music is a very much unremunerated hobby for me and as such I write when I find the time and energy for it. Once downside of this is that I tend to pick off the easy targets. It’s not difficult to praise a perfectly implemented twee album, or a black metal horde that follows in lockstep with their forbearers.

Blackgaze, as one example of the other hand, is a genre that can be difficult to wrap your head around at times. On paper it might sound like a bad joke; preposterous; a certain failure; a novelty.

And yet maybe, like the progress of jazz through bop, hard bop, cool jazz, third stream, jazz-rock and so on – it’s one perfectly logical way forward for the genre.

Myself I find myself listening to two recent black gaze/post-black metal releases on a daily basis in recent months. One being a split between green metal act Botanist hailing from San Francisco, California and Oskoreien of Valencia, California.

Blackgaze makes me think of those peculiar food combinations that sound terrible on paper and principle, and yet work beautifully against all odds. French fries and ice cream come to mind as one my personal childhood peccadilloes.

Deterministic Chaos is rife with those disparate yet deliciously fused elements. Botanists’ pretty, majestic guitars float effortlessly through dark space on epic journeys through dreamworlds hitherto unknown. They cozy up against vaguely blasty beats – their blast dulled slightly to kindly accommodate partnership with their six-stringed allies. Vocals lean a bit closer than their rhythm section to the prototypical haunting black metal scream and yowl, and ride on top of it all beautifully.

Oskoreien ventures into a more earthly sound of sludge and melancholy, drowning under the weight of its own heaviness and agonizing black metal screams driving home the sound. It brings to mind bands from across the metal divide – Dinosaur Jr for example – perhaps since they themselves had an acknowledged debt to metal – but also the majesty of Burzum.

An outstanding album.