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In December I put together a year-end best of cassettes list and was very happy to see a lively discussion about the relevance of tapes in 2011 spring up in the comments section. A lot of good points were made and questions asked, with, “Why the resurgence of tapes and why now?” being perhaps the most important. A recent feature on That’s How Kids Die touched upon the same question with a focus on two of USBM’s most prolific labels, Crepusculo Negro and Rhinocervs. As you, IO’s readership, and THKD pointed out, there are both merits and limitations to cassettes. They’re cheap and they have lo-fi audio characteristics that nicely complement black metal, but they’re also bulky, difficult to share, and prone to poor dubbing.
I don’t think either side of the pro-cassette or anti-cassette argument will ever be strong enough to convince a band that releasing a cassette is either a “must” or a total waste of time. Wherever you stand on the issue, there’s no denying that there is a lot of great music released exclusively on cassette. The list below is the first of a monthly column I will be writing about metal, usually of the blackened variety, being released only on tape. I hope you enjoy the music, and I look forward to more lively conversation in the comments section.
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Blut der Nacht – Demo MMXI
Blut der Nacht, from Portland, Oregon, goes out of their way to avoid the Cascadian label—on their Bandcamp, their four-song demo is available as a one-track download called “Fuck Cascadian Black Metal”. They’re right to distinguish themselves. Blut der Nacht’s menacing, raw, old-school black metal doesn’t sound like it was inspired by a reverence for nature or whatever.
Buy: Fallen Empire
Cerebrate – Demo
The two-song demo from Cerebrate, a band comprised of members of Ash Borer, has only one flaw: it’s too short. The psychotic and violent brand of blackened death has episodes of both chugging hypnotic riffing and spiraling-out-of-control freak-outs. The first press is sold out, a second on pro tape is coming.
Buy: Psychic Violence
Dressed in Streams – Dressed in Streams
Dressed in Streams is the newest addition to the Colloquial Sound Recordings roster (Aksumite, A Pregnant Light, Obliti Devoravit) and is the most straightforward black metal band on the label. Though DIS relies heavily on synth, particularly on “Sleeping Foxes”, it never dominates.
Buy: Colloquial Sound Recordings
Owl’s Blood – Lunar Equilibrium
Owl’s Blood’s Lunar Equilibrium is a shining example of old-school depressive black metal done well. Lunar Equilibrium is the Portuguese band Owl’s Blood’s first release.
Buy: Winter Solace
RH-12 may not be as well remembered as RH-11 down the line, but the measured, haunting, and melancholic RH-12 is perhaps the perfect digestif after the explosive RH-11. The first press of 100 is sold out, but another batch is on the way.
Servile Sect – Svrrender
The companion to last year’s Trvth, Servile Sect’s Svrrender is an equally, if not more, powerful mix of sci-fi influenced black metal and raw, buzzy, swirling noise, and drone.
Buy: Handmade Birds
Witch in Her Tomb – Demo
Witch in Her Tomb’s raucous lo-fi black metal saves a little room for what seems like tongue-in-cheek bits of melody. The band, from Illinois, took a lot of people by surprise and quickly sold out their first demo press of 25 copies. A second repress, without the annoying cut-off point on the final track of the first, is on the way.
Buy: Crippled Sound
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