Some things just seem made for each other. Black metal and Winter. Thrash and beer. Doom and weed. Bacon and eggs. Politics and misinformation. Religion and disagreement. Pizza and cheese, well come to think of it, any sort of bread and cheese. You get the idea…
Last year I was introduced to two excellent black metal bands – Greece’s Nocternity and Obsequiae, who clearly hail from some long forgotten verdant forest. The latter of the two received quite a fair few end-of-year recommendations around the vast expanse that is the metal blogosphere (or so I’m told), including a bunch of mentions in this very bowl. To anyone who heard this near-transcendent masterpiece that will come as no surprise. The rich melodies and lush atmosphere are compelling in every sense and on every listen. Don’t let the harp intro and interludes fool you, this album is full of riffs and soul. If you’re not transported into the cover art by around the 22.16 mark (“Analace and Heart”), then you’re devoid of all that is good in this world (and should probably just skip ahead to Nocternity).
After the dork with the red helmet introduced me to the former through their exalted Harps Of The Ancient Temples album from last year, I returned to him seeking more. Almost immediately he bestowed upon me a collection of similarly styled Hellenic metal. The somewhat obvious conclusion was that I would enjoy their previous album from all the way back in 2003 – Onyx. Enjoy? Pffttt.. I fucking loved this album instantly. Since that day it has rapidly climbed to become one of my top 5 black metal albums of all. The riff that breaks free from the build-up around the 17-minute mark is stirring and invokes a sense of epicness (yes, fuck you, I said epicness) that would rival all the crusades throughout history.
[Nevermind the misspelling of ONYX in the video, this one is the best rip *shakes claw*]
Now, that’s all well and good but what do these albums have in common aside from the obvious medieval imagery? Well, for me work is mundane; I simply toil in the sun to earn my meager crust. One of the only positives is that I have a lot of time to put some headphones on, shut the world out and listen to music alone with my own thoughts. For whatever reason I was listening to these albums in succession and found them to align quite nicely in a sort of quasi-Tolkienesque manner. Obsequiae setting the scene by providing the calmer and joyous times in the rural hamlet. The fellowship binding together to defend their village from the evil that was building afar. Nocternity’s contribution to this perceived companionship could be thought of as the journey toward the East, facing strife and attempting to avoid death during the quest, culminating with the final battle. Now, I am fully aware that one of the tracks on Onyx is named after a certain Game Of Thrones mythos, so don’t… uhh, just don’t. Either way, it’s a good excuse to pair two excellent albums and let your mind wander for an hour or two.
So, that’s my part done. Now it’s your turn. You might think Abyssal’s Antikatastaseis pairs excellently with say Deathspell Omega‘s Paracletus, or that Invocation Spells‘ Descendent The Black Throne segues nicely into Kreator‘s Pleasure To Kill. You may enjoy (as I do) destroying your lounge-room/steering wheel/eardrums with a combination of Mammoth Grinder and Borealis. Whatever the case may be, just make sure you don’t be an unimaginative tool who picks two albums by the same band and states the obvious that Mastodon‘s Leviathan works well with Blood Mountain. So be creative! Points for picks that are from different sub-genres or those that are separated by vast expanses of time. Tell us why you believe the albums work well together.