Recognizing black metal as an art form is difficult if simply because its impetus was so distinctly anti-art. It ("it" being the second wave, here) was completely reactionary, an answer to death metal's more outwardly human approach (and basketball shorts) and the commercialization of Norway at large, but there was an art (in a post-modern sense) to these Norwegian teenagers being edgy and outwardly difficult. Black metal exists because other art existed, and in that lies the true spirit of the genre's birth, but what were to happen if black metal and art were to collide in a more intentional way?

Dutch duo Grey Aura have always pushed black metal's boundaries, be it a double album based around a doomed Antarctic expedition, a tape whose art reflects Rothko's, or even true flamenco and studied jazz flourishes which accent the harsh, heavy genre to which they call home. On their second album Zwart Vierkant ("Black Square"), black metal gets pushed even further outside the proverbial box, and blast beats press against true, post-modern creativity.

Citing artists like El Greco ("El Greco in Toledo" can be streamed ahead of Zwart Vierkant's release below), architecture like the Catedral de Santa Maria in Segovia, and boasting a colorful, artfully composed cover, Grey Aura's own approach to black metal takes the physical and visual into just as much consideration as the audial. This is a reaction to black metal's own reaction, and it is a powerful statement.

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Zwart Vierkant releases next month (May) on Onism Productions.

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