Wednesday, November 29, 2006


A friend of mine found this (awesome) blog that has a demo from Euronymous's first band, Checker Patrol on it. It sounds terrible and the music is questionable. Anyone want to petition to get it listed on Mayhem's site and pressed on checkered vinyl in a limited edition of 666 retailing for $66.60 on eBay only? I hope you know I'm kidding. The site also has early Death demos and other '80s metal curiosa.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The other day, I had the opportunity to interview Jay-Z for CMJ New Music Report for all of 10 minutes. Besides being one of the world's best-known rappers, he's also CEO and president of Def Jam, so dude knows how to crank out an interview as fast as possible; in those 10 minutes I got 1,500 words, way more than I needed for my 900 word story. Now you know I wouldn't let that opportunity go by without asking him about the Big L, the man that made it all possible for him in the first place other than Jaz-O. Jay-Z's contribution to "Da Graveyard," off Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous, was unparalleled at the time. Here's what Jay-Z had to say:

What's your best Big L story?
Oh, that night, of course. That night in the station [WKCR], with Stretch and Bobbito, when we were freestyling back and forth. He was like a little tiger, you should see his face while he was rapping. You could tell he wanted it really bad.

To hear their freestyle, click this.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


  1. Arab Strap, The Last Romance (Transdreamer)
  2. Nachtmystium, Instinct: Decay (Battle Kommand)
  3. Jenny Lewis With The Watson Twins, Rabbit Fur Coat (Team Love)
  4. TV On The Radio, Return To Cookie Mountain (Interscope)
  5. Mogwai, Mr. Beast (Matador)
  6. Black Heart Procession, The Spell (Touch And Go)
  7. Television Personalities, My Dark Places (Domino)
  8. Isis And Aereogramme, In The Fishtank 14 (Konkurrent)
  9. Ornette Coleman, Sound Grammar (Sound Grammar)
  10. Burst, Origo (Relapse)
  11. Oneida, New Year’s Eve (Brah-Jagjaguwar)
  12. Jesu, Silver (Hydra Head)
  13. Brightblack Morning Light, Brightblack Morning Light (Matador)
  14. Mouse On Mars, Varcharz (Ipecac)
  15. Boris, Pink (Southern Lord)
  16. Converge, No Heroes (Epitaph)
  17. Nadja, Bodycage (Profound Lore)
  18. Craft, Fuck The Universe (Southern Lord)
  19. Camera Obscura, Let’s Get Out Of This Country (Merge)
  20. Mastodon, Blood Mountain (Reprise-Warner Bros.)
  21. OOIOO, Taiga (Thrill Jockey)
  22. Thom Yorke, The Eraser (XL)
  23. The Coup, Pick A Bigger Weapon (Epitaph)
  24. Ali Farka Toure, Savane (World Circuit-Nonesuch)
  25. Love Is All, Nine Times That Same Song (What’s Your Rupture?)


  1. Jesu, “Star” (Hydra Head)
  2. Jenny Lewis With The Watson Twins, “The Charging Sky” (Team Love)
  3. The Coup, “Laugh/Love/F**k” (Epitaph)
  4. Turbulence, “Notorious” (VP)
  5. Kevin Blechdom, “Me Saw Me Momma” (Chicks On Speed)
  6. Gossip, “Are U That Somebody” (Kill Rock Stars)
  7. Boris, “Farewell” (Southern Lord)
  8. Asunder, “A Famine” (Profound Lore)
  9. Johnny Cash, “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” (American)
  10. Christina Aguilera, “Candyman” (RCA)
  1. O'Death
  2. The Cummies
  3. Team Tomato

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Other than Frank Sinatra and recently Kanye West, Yo La Tengo are easily Hoboken, New Jersey’s most identifiable, longstanding and proud claim-to-fame. And subsequently their Jersey shows have become the stuff of indie-rock legend, thanks to their commitment to playing almost-annual Hanukah in their burg’s similarly legendary Maxwell’s. But for their current album, the jammy, guitar-centric and especially excellent I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass, a title that allegedly comes from a threat made by Phoenix Suns ballplayer Kurt Thomas to New York Knick Stephon Marbury, they made one Hoboken-area appearance in nearby Jersey City (screw you, NYC!), which I was lucky enough to attend.

The Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theatre is an old, elegant theater that now mostly shows movie screenings. But somehow, amidst the lofty ceilings and low-hanging chandeliers, it seemed like a fitting palace for a Yo La Tengo show. Openers Why? did their metaphysical indie-rock thing, but the fun started right after they finished.

As they were setting up Yo La Tengo’s stage, an announcement came over the PA in a big, echoey voice… “From Paramus, New Jersey… RRROOOOLLLLLLIIINNNNNGGGG THUUUUUUUNNDEERRRR!!!” And then the theme from Magnum P.I. started up. For the next 30 seconds, we watched two 40-something dudes roller-skating around one another (and the band’s equipment!) narrowly dodging amps and guitars. At one point they tried to skate through one another’s legs… and it worked once! The second time, they both fell over. It was fun and ridiculous, and the perfect preamble to the night’s show.

Yo La Tengo played an exciting, engaging set of classics and songs from their new album. Guitarist/singer Ira Kaplan flung himself around the stage with Hendrixian verve and, in some songs, he shook it in front of his amp to get more feedback. His wife, drummer Georgia Hubley, sang some songs from behind her kit and even switched with Ira near the end for a song. Honestly, “Pass The Hatchet, I Think I’m goodkind,” from the new album, stands out as one of the best “indie-rock” jams I’ve seen in a long time, without becoming pretentious. For their encore, multi-instrumentalist James McNew thanked his parents, who were in the audience, for turning him onto cool music when he was young. He said that without them, they wouldn’t be able to play the next song, and they launched into the Rolling Stones’ “Rocks Off.” It surely didn’t sound like the Stones, without the horns, but it’s more interesting how it sounded like Yo La Tengo, with Kaplan and McNew singing the verses in unison. After their sleepy Summer Sun album, it’s refreshing to see Yo La Tengo get excited again.

After the show, my girlfriend Lisa and I walked around Jersey City a little and got back on the PATH back to Manhattan. There were fans admiring their new vinyl purchases from the show and basically just beaming about what a great show it had been. I couldn’t help but agree.


  1. Sugarcube
  2. Pass the Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind
  3. Flying Lesson (Hot Chicken #1)
  4. The Weakest Part
  5. Sometimes I Don’t Get You
  6. Winter A-Go-Go
  7. Mr. Tough
  8. Beanbag Chair
  9. I Feel Like Going Home
  10. Stockholm Syndrome
  11. I Should Have Known Better
  12. Watch Out For Me Ronnie
  13. Tom Courtenay
  14. Rocks Off
  15. The Story Of Yo La Tengo
  16. I Heard You Looking

Monday, September 25, 2006


If you are curious about why my blog is titled "Sadness Is Delicious," read my TV On The Radio cover story... or just read this quote:

This cues a story about Malone's daughter.

"Three years ago, Isabelle was pissed off about something, and we had a fight or a disagreement," says Malone. "She wanted something she couldn't have, and a lot of time passed and she was still just, like, pouting and walking around like a little baby girl... 'You're just gonna stay sad, little girl? The day's almost over, and you're still sad?'... She said, 'But sadness is delicious.'"

"She said, 'Sadness is delicious'?" asks Adebimpe, laughing. "She's really smart. Yeah, it is kind of delicious. I guess I can think of it that way."

"I've wallowed," says Malone. "I'll wallow again."

"That's true," says Adebimpe. "You can definitely wallow and wallow... There are a lot of people that are generally melancholic... And that doesn't mean they're gonna off themselves if it goes the wrong way."

"It doesn't mean that the cheerful people aren't going to, either," says Malone.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

My Review of My Vacation to Chicago for Touch And Go's 25th Anniversary

Last week, my girlfriend, Lisa, and I visited Chicago to attend Touch And Go’s 25th Anniversary Party. You can read an article I wrote about the label here. Steve Albini and David Yow had some pretty interesting things to say in it, and it was partially from David Yow’s insistence that I come that decided to make the trek. He told me I’d regret it if I missed it and he was totally right. (Incidentally he also told me how excited he was that Kory Grow was interviewing him, not because he’d read anything I’ve written, but because he wanted to know if I would name my son Scotty, because of that old ’60s song “Watching Scotty Grow.” He even sent me the lyrics. That’s my boy…) I can happily say that Lisa and I saw all 25 of the bands in 2.5 days. Below are some pictures and highlights from my trip.

First off, it seems like every guy in Chicago has sideburns. I don’t know what’s up with that, but that was the impetus behind the title for this blog. Also, most of the Chicago girls don’t seem to have hair past their shoulders. Interesting… Maybe I’m just a dumb New Yorker.

Obviously seeing Big Black’s mini-set was pretty impressive, they played: “Cables,” “Dead Billy,” “Kill Pigeon” and “Racer X.” Albini joked about how everyone wondering about it should know that it was a lot cooler in the ’80s. I disagree. Albini, Santiago Durango, Jeff Pezzati and, ahem, Roland, which Albini had to reprogram, all sounded awesome. Also, Shellac were incredible. The set was identical to the one we saw in New York the week before, but still fun. They still did their Q&A session and they pulled people out of the audience to bang on the drums with them when the show was done. Albini, Weston and Trainer really owned the event.

Scratch Acid were amazing. David Yow was as animated as ever and all in all their set was a lot of fun. They remain one of music’s most overlooked trailblazers, even in the wake of the Jesus Lizard.

Killdozer played “King of Sex” and all their other “hits.” Someone even through around an huge inflatable penis during their set. Brilliant!

Tim and Andy from Silkworm did an acoustic with very haunting lyrics in dedication to their drummer, Michael Dahlquist. I don’t really remember what song it was other than it was quite moving. If anyone knows what it is, please do tell.

Ted Leo played mostly new songs. They’re really catchy and kind of more immediate than his previous albums (even more of a mix between Elvis Costello and the Jam than previously). His new album will be stellar.

Featuring the inimitable Johnny Temple, who runs Akashic books, Girls Against Boys played their entire Venus Luxure No. 1 Baby album in its entirety. They said it was the first time they’d ever done that. It took them a little bit to warm up, but they were easily the highlight of Friday night, save !!! campily egging the audience on.

When Sally Timms performed she kept on cleverly saying “Men and woman of punk rock,” which I thought was absolutely brilliant since she just followed Negative Approach’s memorable, fist-pumping hardcore set. Jon Langford came out and did a Mekons song with her, which almost made up for the fact that the Mekons reunite for the show in some form or another. Ms. Timms also kept saying something like, “Oh you’re just waiting to see David Yow’s penis. He has it in a jar backstage, he’ll put it on before he comes out.” Scratch Acid played after her. Earlier in the day, Langford played with Kat from the Ex, whose own set was worth the price of travel alone.

Lisa seemed to really enjoy The New Year as they reminded her of Death Cab For Cutie or the Postal Service in a distant way, which I can hear, too. Makes sense, since Gibbard is probably a huge Bedhead fan.

We got there early enough to see Quasi in the rain on Sunday, and their songs are still going through my head. It’s a shame that Sleater-Kinney broke up, but I’m glad there’s still Quasi.

The Black Heart Procession played a special version of Tom Petty’s “You Got Lucky” as part of their set, but changed the chorus to, “A good label’s hard to find.” It was totally cheesy and endearing at the same time. Not sure which element was stronger though.

And the last musical highlight of the event was Calexico’s closing set. They played their cover of Love’s “Alone Again, Or,” but surprisingly didn’t dedicate it to the just-passed Arthur Lee. It was a pleasant way to end the festival, and it left us wanting more music on Monday.

I do have two complaints, though. One, there weren’t any surprises in the lineup. No, “Oh my god, it’s Slint/Necros/Die Kreuzen!” moments. The other was that label owner Corey Rusk never got onstage to speak. As notoriously shy as he is, you’d think he’d have something to say, but who can fault someone for just wanting to sit back and enjoy what he started. And it was most certainly an event to be proud of.

In addition to seeing the people I know at Touch And Go, we saw Paul from Merge and hung out with Laurent and from Pelican and his wife during Girls Against Boys set. It was nice seeing them, and kind of a surprise. Later in the week, we stopped by Touch And Go’s office, and it is a huge, three-floor converted loft. Everyone was friendly. Jamie Proctor from Thrill Jockey was kindly enough to put us up during the event, so I want to thank him here, next to the picture of us posing outside “Shit Fountain” which is a block away from his house.

Onto the second part of this blog. After staying in Jamie’s fair abode for three days, we made our way to possibly the worst hotel in all of Chicago. Without becoming slanderous and calling it out by name (ask and I'll tell you which one it is), it’s right across the street from the Rock And Roll McDonald’s (of Wesley Willis fame) and they promised us a no-smoking room, which was basically a smoking room with a small little sign inside that they placed there that said “no smoking.” The place absolutely reeked. Also, we saw a guy with a gun trolling around the R&R McDonald’s and someone followed us back to our motel. We didn’t feel safe. Luckily, we only needed to be there to sleep, but it was the only game in town that wasn’t $500/night.

On Monday, we got brunch at Milk And Honey, and I had an amazing huevos rancheros casserole. After that, we did a little shopping on Milwaukee and I stopped by Reckless Records, picking up original versions of both Sonic Youth’s and Spoon’s respective debuts, and also found a record of Nachtmystium’s early demos. We also ate at Lou Malnati’s pizza, which was absolutely delicious. That night we went to the Midwestern premiere of Neil Labute’s Fat Pig play. The actors did a wonderful job, and the play is—in typical Labute fashion—both heartwarming and stomach churning. I recommend seeing it, if you can. That night we found an absolutely amazing bar in Bucktown called Danny’s, which is kind of like somebody’s house that they converted into a bar. There was a lot of smoke, but it had a vibe few New York bars still have: they had live DJs spinning rocky R&B, blues and soul and everyone was dancing. Did I mention the walls were plaid?! It was so much fun. This was one of the major highlights of the trip.

The next day, we went to the Art Institute and were upset to see that their modern and contemporary art wings were closed. Nonetheless we saw some great paintings, before going up to Touch And Go’s office. When we got back downtown, we went to the Museum of Contemporary Art, which had a lot of cool stuff, including some original Henry Darger illustrations. Plus Tuesday is free night there, so it was that much more fun. We found a great Italian restaurant on the magnificent mile got a little drunk and went back to our scary hotel room.

Wednesday, we did a little shopping and Lisa got some nice new boot-shoe hybrids. We bounced around on their subway—and if you’re planning on going to Chicago without a car, I recommend you pick your unlimited card up at the airport before you get into town as they’re very hard to find in the city—before we eventually headed to the airport.

Some other general thoughts about Chicago include the fact that it’s so incredibly expansive you either need to drive or ride a bike. Even with their “El” subway, the distance between blocks are much larger than those in New York, and it takes a lot longer to get where you’re planning on going. I also found it strange that almost anyone goes to any bar. One night when we were hanging out with Jamie we went to a club that would be more suited for guidos in New York, but it was dudes in band T-shirts sipping cocktails. It was very bizarre, but fun.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but if I didn’t live in New York, I’d want to live in Chicago. Everyone is very friendly, and in many cases hipper than the people who live in New York, at this point. It feels very conducive to creative types and it’s also cheaper to live there. I can’t wait to go back.

Blogger bonus:

For my Touch And Go story in CMJ I made a list of the 25 Most Important Records Touch And Go ever released. We unfotunately only printed images of each release, but here's the motive: Unlike other "Best Of" lists I've seen, this one contains only artists that Touch And Go either discovered or really "made" their career. That rules out Silkworm who made their name on Matador, Bedhead and Pinback, so no bitchin'! I hope you enjoy.

  1. T&G04 - V/A - Process Of Elimination E.P.
  2. TGLP01 - The Meatmen - We’re The Meatmen And You Suck
  3. TG06 - Killdozer - Snakeboy
  4. TG07 - Die Kreuzen - October File
  5. TG24 - Big Black - Songs About Fucking
  6. TG29 – Butthole Surfers – Hairway To Steven
  7. TG36 - Rapeman - Two Nuns And A Pack Mule
  8. TG51 - Didjits - Hornet Pinata
  9. TG64 - Slint – Spiderland
  10. TG76 - Scratch Acid - The Greatest Gift
  11. TG78 - Negative Approach - Total Recall
  12. TG86 - Urge Overkill – Stull EP
  13. TG100 - The Jesus Lizard – Liar
  14. TG117 - Girls Against Boys - Venus Luxure No. 1 Baby
  15. TG141 - Shellac – At Action Park
  16. TG143 - Don Caballero - Don Caballero 2
  17. TG189 - Man Or Astro-Man? – Eeviac
  18. TG216 - Blonde Redhead – Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons
  19. TG223 - Dirty Three - Whatever You Love, You Are
  20. TG232 – Black Heart Procession – Amore Del Tropico
  21. TG234 - !!! - Louden Up Now
  22. TG238 - Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  23. TG252 - TV On The Radio - Young Liars
  24. QS52 - Calexico - The Black Light
  25. QS54 - June Of 44 - Four Great Points

Friday, September 15, 2006


Last night at B.B. King's I saw the first Celtic Frost show in New York City in 17 years. Tom G. Warrior himself even mentioned that with an element of surprise. I was lucky to have seen them before everyone else on my Norway trip a couple of weeks ago, and I wanted to compare the shows.

First, the stage was a lot smaller and the opening bands had to perform all in one line (drums on the left front of the stage). Sahg sounded awesome with their mix of Sabbathy doom and high-powered stoner rock. Their bassist, King, was taking all of his rock-star stances and was really getting into it. We spoke a little bit after their set and he said it was his first time opening and also his first tour in America. We joked about how we keep running into each other trans-continentally, as he was the one who had recommended I take the tram into the mountains in Bergen. I asked about why they weren't able to use the fire and explosions they used in Europe, and of course it had to do with hauling more stuff across the Atlantic as well as customs things, but he said that when he was playing in Gorgoroth they were able to use inverted crosses onstage with flames and torches. Of course they never toured America. One other main difference between this show and the Bergen show was that only about 100 people showed up early enough to see them. That was a festival, though. Apparently one person said, "Oh, that's the dude from Gorgoroth. I hope they don't play rock and roll." This made King snicker.

Next came 1349, who, as always, were amazing. The only problem was that the American audience- save the dude in the Asunder T-shirt up front- didn't really seem to know how to interpret it. Some people seemed to understand it and enjoy it, but others just looked confused. I found myself thinking, "What would happen if, during one of their breaks, the audience just started laughing? How would they respond?" Their singer Ravn just looked out at the audience during the breaks, and there was deafening silence. I wonder what would have happened. Nevertheless, they played "I Am Abominations" and it sounded brilliant. Their whole set was almost identical to the one in Bergen-six-inch-nails through their armbands and all-except they couldn't have fire onstage, other than a smoke machine (and subsequently didn't shut the show down because of "too much hellfire" this time.) They remain one of my favorite live black metal bands. I even caught a guitar pick that said "Archaon" (the guitarist's name) and had an inverted cross on it. Brilliant! If you have the chance to see them, go! (p.s.: all apologies to the dude I told that the drummer was sometime Satyricon drummer Frost, in actually, it's someone named Tony Laureano now.)

Celtic Frost's show was brilliant. They opened with "Procreation (Of The Wicked)," as they had done in Bergen and from that point on just played down-tuned, ultra-heavy, "uhh"-filled hits. Tom G. Warrior was wearing his corpsepaint as was the rest of the band, and despite being older, it didn't show too much. Halfway through the show, bassist Martin Ain, said: "Let me tell you the news… Well, this is New York, so you already know the news, but there is no god other than the one that dies with me." Then, they played a crushing version of "Ain Elohim," from their latest album, which I love to the chagrin of some of my more "metal" friends, Monotheist. Comedian and metal enthusiast Brian Posehn was in the audience, and he was clearly enjoying himself. There was also one non-celebrity guy who did some wild snake dance during some of the songs. That might have been the best non-musical thing that happened. This among the best metal concerts I've seen all year.

Celtic Frost setlist:

1. "Procreation (Of The Wicked)"
2. "Visions Of Mortality"
3. "Circle Of The Tyrants"
4. "The Usurper"
5. "Jewel Throne"
6. "Ain Elohim"
7. "Necromantical Screams"
8. "Dawn Of Meggido"
9. "Sorrows Of The Moon"
10. "Ground"
11. "Dethroned Emperor"
12. "Into The Crypts Of Rays"
13. "Synagoga Satanae"

Thursday, September 14, 2006


  1. Nachtmystium, Instinct: Decay
  2. Burst, Origo
  3. Wolves In The Throne Room, Diadem of 12 Stars
  4. Jesu, Silver
  5. Enslaved, Ruun
  6. Nadja, Bodycage
  7. Phobia, Cruel
  8. Isis, In the Absence of Truth
  9. Converge, No Heroes
  10. Xasthur, Subliminal Genocide
  11. Daughters, Hell Songs
  12. Celtic Frost, Monotheist
  13. Mastodon, Blood Mountain
  14. Battle Of Mice, A Day Of Nights
  15. Mogwai, Mr. Beast
  16. Goatwhore, A Haunting Curse
  17. OM, Conference Of Birds
  18. Mouse On Mars, Varcharz
  19. Wolf Eyes, Human Animal
  20. Celestiial, Celestiial
Runners up:

Jucifer, Asunder, Suffocation, Mouth of the Architect, DragonForce, Gorgoroth, Slayer and the Melvins.

Monday, September 04, 2006


Black metal is a difficult genre to break into, if you don’t know much about it. It’s well documented that a few bands inspired what would become black metal: Bathory’s misanthropic lyrics and lonely ambience, Venom’s kitschy Satanic thrash, Mercyful Fate’s over-the-top kabuki makeup and melodicism and Celtic Frost’s pummeling tough-guy bravado. But what people consider modern black metal—with its impossibly fast, blasting drum beats, symphonic guitar parts and lo-fi Luciferian snarls—didn’t really form until Oslo, Norway’s Mayhem issued their almost-unlistenable Deathcrush EP in 1987. From that point, black metal would begin to take on many new shapes, especially in Norway and the rest of Scandinavia. In the mid-‘90s, US bands would start to embrace its sound, pushing its ambient limits to greater heights. Like hardcore, punk’s most extreme genre, some Nazis and other hate groups would embrace black metal, but once you become accustomed to the genre’s core bands, it’s easy to avoid these artists and not let a few shitty bands spoil the bunch. With that in mind, here are a few non-fascist black metal records, any of which can serve as a starting point for one of music’s most exclusive genres. FYI: some bands list “True Norwegian Black Metal” on the back of their albums; as Gorgoroth’s King Ov Hell once told me, this represents bands that are fully into the Satanic ideology of the music and not just the aspect of recording and writing it. (And yes, tr00 black metal kvlt friends, I realize “hepping” people to the genre might just lose me all credibility, but Jesus, how did you discover these albums?)

Celtic Frost, To Mega Therion (1985) – Tom G. Warrior’s growl and down-tuned riffage would affect almost every current black metal band from Darkthrone to Goatwhore.

Bathory, Blood Fire Death (1988) – On this album, frontman Quorthon rasped over intricate, symphonic odes to Viking conquests. This is the starting point for true Scandinavian antichristian metal.

Burzum, Burzum (1992) – The first (alleged) church burner’s debut release took Bathory’s archetype and made it even more lo-fi and depressing. Note to genre newcomers: any Burzum release after 1996’s Filosofem has expressed his newfound Nazi viewpoints. If you support that, feel free to buy the records and stop reading my blog.

Beherit, The Oath Of Black Blood (1992) – These Finnish black meddlers formed in ’89 and would eventually devolve into an atmospheric darkwave band. This album, however, exemplifies the genre’s fast tempos and raw aggression.

Immortal, Pure Holocaust (1993) – Immortal’s “war painted” frontman, Abbath, were clearly influenced by Mayhem’s Satanic look and orchestral-styled guitar work. The first Hole In The Sky festival in Bergen would pay tribute to Immortal drummer Grim, who committed suicide in 1999.

Mayhem, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (1994) – Mayhem’s first full-length had better sound than their influential Deathcrush EP, and even features Burzum’s Varg Vikernes on bass! Vikernes would later murder Mayem mainman Euronymous.

Emperor, In The Nightside Eclipse (1994) – When Emperor released their debut album, none of the members were 20 years old. Haling from central Norway, between the country’s two metropolitan centers, they revitalized the symphonic aspect of the genre, later pushing the boundaries to its proggiest extremes by their 2001 breakup.

Darkthrone, Transilvanian Hunger (1994) – Essentially only two members, Darkthrone epitomizes Norway’s old school to this day, with their hyper-distorted guitars and raspy-throated lo-fi vocals. They’ve lately started sounding more death ‘n’ roll à la Celtic Frost, but this album shows their truest black metal roots best.

Gorgoroth, Antichrist (1996) – A black metal ‘zine publisher I met on my recent trip to Bergen pegged Gorgoroth by calling them the last true “evil” Norwegian black metal band. While every other band has mostly abandoned the Satanic shtik, Gorgoroth has stuck with it, by using severed goat heads on stage and live crucifictions.

Judas Iscariot, Thy Dying Light (1996) – Based out of Dekalb, Illinois, Judas Iscariot were the first important American black metal “band,” really just the work of one man, Akhenaten. Their second album, Thy Dying Light, found them following in Burzum’s footsteps with ambient, echoes of dark chords.

Xasthur, Telepathic With The Deceased (2004) – Located in Alhambra, California, Xasthur could be considered the first US “suicidal black metal” band, also just one person known as Malefic. His inhuman drum machine patterns make Telepathic all the more claustrophobic. Mood is everything to Xasthur, and Malefic contrasts light and dark with ease.

Leviathan, Tentacles Of Whorror (2004) – One-man-band Wrest, who masterminds San Francisco’s Leviathan, would later team with Xasthur in a USBM supergroup called Twilight. But on his own, Wrest plays aggressive black metal similar to Xasthur, but with less contrast and more full-on screaming. Wrest has also recorded as Lurker Of Chalice.

Enslaved, Isa (2004) – Norway’s Enslaved made their debut in 1993 on a split CD with Emperor, but would forge their own sound in years to come, focusing not on Satanism, but their true Viking heritage. Progressing more and more with each album, Isa, which would win Norway’s prestigious Alarm award (which Darkthrone’s Fenriz opted his band out of), due to its brilliant songcraft and listenable (née hummable?) melodies.

Craft, Fuck The Universe (2006) – Formed in 1994, Swedish black meddlers Craft hit their creative stride with their third album, Fuck The Universe. While pushing black metal’s ideological boundaries with their previous albums—2000’s Total Soul Rape and 2005’s Terror Propaganda (its title a “fuck you” to post-9/11 America)—Craft found the perfect blend of musical belligerence and misanthropic lyrical nihilism on Fuck The Universe.

Not a novice anymore and wondering "What next?" Check out albums by bands like 1349, Satyricon, early Samael, Goatwhore, Deathspell Omega, Revenge, Venom, Borknagar, Dissection, Thorns, Ulver and Watain. From that point on, it's wide open. Enjoy.