Blessed by the Night
The Dark Metal Compilation Vol. 1 (Zoomica/SPV)
by Scott Hefflon
I am such a sucker for this stuff, and here’re two full CDs of dark/black/Gothic/atmospheric metal with 28 mostly well-known purveyors of all that is dark, dismal and frighteningly sexy. One of the beauties of this genre (or genres, really, cuz there’s a world of difference between the blur of black, the plod of dark, and the swirling of Gothic metal) is that the deeper you dig – be it into the black lace folds or the foul-smelling Earth – the more new bands you find. Some suck (in a bad way), and some will have you licking your black nail-polished fingers.
While American Goths seem to prefer dancier stuff (keyboards, not guitars) and metalheads seem to prefer nü metal or classic heavy metal (evidently finding this stuff a little droning and dull or too freaky and noisy), an enlightened few (and most of the rest of the world) know this to be the music of darkness, where all the good (and terrifying) stuff happens. Basically, it’s the logical next step for horror movie nuts (I believe Cradle of Filth appeared in a horror movie, Cradle of Fear), and if Goths dig Type O Negative and Ministry’s boring riffs, I’ve never understood why they shy away from great shit like Tiamat and the full orchestration of Therion. They avoid metal guitar-based songs but embrace Manson like he’s the only guy who shops at Hot Topic in the local mall.
I like far too much here to list off my faves, but real standouts include the aforementioned Tiamat (whose Skeleton Skeletron I still listen to almost daily) and Therion (doing “O Fortuna”), and “Disconnected Magnetic Corridors” by Hypocrisy, the achingly beautiful trudge through distorted misery that closed out Hypocrisy a few years back. And while I get a chuckle out of the pretentious baritone of überGoth and the yelping dog pleading “folklore-oriented” stuff that sounds kinda Hobbit-esque to me, others may think the classical-inspired stuff with male/female vocals kinda drippy and the growling black vocals just kinda, ya know, death metal dumb. Whatever… There’s a lot here, even for those pretty deep into it, and for those kinda wondering what all those freaky-looking people listen to (or oughtta be, to be honest), this is it. Wallowing in the pit of despair: Aesma Daeva, Tristania, Crematory, Lacuna Coil, Mayhem, Vintersong, Amorphis, Samsas Traum, Hollenthon, Dimmu Borgir, The Sins of Thy Beloved, The Gathering, Moonspell, Otyg, Lacrimosa, Danzig, Malignant Eternal, Love Like Blood, Umbra et Imago, Satyricon, ThirdMoon, Cultus Sanguine, Siebenbürgen, Near Dark, The Bleeding Light.