posted on 11/2012 By:
Bosse-de-Nage’s III — nominally a black metal album, but truly and thankfully so much more — is 2012’s best album distinctly about being alive in 2012.
Here’s a question I think is worth asking about black metal:
How does music that once stood in defiance to the culture at large by advocating solitude, godlessness and misanthropy interact with a culture that has become progressively more insulated, godless and misanthropic?
I’m not suggesting that black metal’s initial ideology was a bill of goods, or that black metal needs even be anything more than sounds you cram into your void-of-wants, but if you’d like to believe that black metal is guided by some philosophical principals, then now may be the time for re-examination. And not because there’s anything essentially wrong with them, but perhaps because a world full of young adults who spend most of their days alone in offices hating themselves and others and sure that there is nothing real beyond themselves aren’t going to be shocked by music that tells them to hate, hate, hate and die alone.
Because, misanthropy and isolation aren’t subversive or shocking ideals in a misanthropic and isolated culture, right? Check out the newest Rick Ross album; that dude hates everybody too.
Bosse-de-Nage’s III is an album about the consequences of what the ease of modern life has made for us, but not in the same way that Filosofem and Transilvanian Hunger were before it. Those albums raged against the influence of modernity; III is probably the first black metal album to address the existential despondency of post-modernity. If the Second Wave of Black Metal advocated for defiantly stepping away from society, III is about a generation of young people who are drifting inward and outward from each other without even realizing it.
Opening track, "The Arborist," could be interpreted as an allegory on the withering effects of drug abuse, though it functions just as well as an exploration on solipsism full stop.
You will find it easy to befriend them, but as the months pass you will begin to bicker and experience jealousy.
At length, the affinity you feel for your tree becomes something which you cannot express and you will form a union
which excludes all others.
Bosse-de-Nage, wisely, does not comment on what this isolation means, instead encouraging the astute listener to revel in how it feels.
Later, on "Cells," themes of isolation are further explored, though here the lyrics seem to indicate a desire to throw open the doors.
I believe there is a way to escape in the aether space of the cracks and I intend to discover that path and to leave a map
for the others to follow.
Structurally and texturally, III has next to nothing to with black metal, yet somehow still projects an allegiance with the genre.
San Franciso’s Deafheaven is an easy comparison, and the two are slated to release a split together any day now, but Joshua Fit For Battle or Amanda Woodward work just as well as touchstones.
Vocalist B. comes the closest to approximating something like a black metal with his pained screams, and his style is a surprisingly snug fit with the near pop-punk cantor into which the band sometimes settles (3:20 in "Desuetude").
The performances here are tight, and the rendering of them distinct and warm. Guitars don’t buzz as much as they do shimmer, and drums pop and pretty obviously emanate from a human being behind a drum kit. The production isn’t a commentary or statement or whatever; it just sounds very good.
Perhaps, and maybe quite certainly, the onset of the holiday season has me in a headspace that’s too acutely aware of the general sullenness of just about everybody. Nobody in a prosperous society is every really happy as they should be, right? I don’t know. But, what I do know is that it feels like Bosse-de-Nage is using black metal in a different way — recontextualizing its rage and solitude for a culture that, maybe now, maybe always, might be choking on it.
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