In late 2006 and early 2007, John Darnielle wrote “Thirty Short Poems About My Favorite Black Metal Band.” Of his fans, I’d guess that 90% know him for his indie rock band The Mountain Goats, while 10% know him for his writing on metal, including his cryptically amusing “South Pole Dispatch” column which ends each issue of Decibel. Collectively, “Thirty Short Poems” is the greatest piece of band fan mail that I’ve ever read. I have included links to all 30 because I insist that you read them all. They are indeed short, taking about 10-30 seconds each to read. However, they are uproariously funny; nearly each one made me laugh out loud. They are also incredibly tender and profound. Ultimately, they are as obsessive and imaginative as the object of their affection, Drastus.
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Drastus is a French one-man black metal band; he also runs the label Flamme Noire. While I don’t share Darnielle’s fanatical devotion to Drastus (10 poems in, you’d think he was about to propose marriage), I do appreciate his work. In the poems, Darnielle touches upon how hard it is to find. This is sort of true; his three releases all have very limited pressings. However, I have seen them come and go in various distros, as well as on eBay. Drastus is just one of those names you have to keep an eye out for. Over time, I have found his 2006 EP Taphos and From the Womb of Ferocious, his 2005 split with Hostis (his girlfriend) and CYT (his black metal band with her). The latter comes in an A5 sleeve, and Darnielle’s ninth poem addresses the difficulty of storing such an object. I agree; A5 sleeves are a pain in the ass. I have a few – they’re all by black metal bands (the “artistic” aspect, etc.) – and I banish them to a box where I try to ignore them.
But the music on Womb is impossible to ignore. Drastus does the split’s best tracks; one is straightforward, ass-kicking black metal, while the other features strange, almost gothic singing over an industrial soundscape. Hostis turns in two tracks of menacing dark ambient, while CYT proffers solid black metal with incredibly deft drumming. I am doing a terrible job of description; Darnielle’s poems are really all you need. With fans like this, who needs music critics?