BlazeBirth Hall: Forest – As a Song in the Harvest of Grief (1999) & Branikald – Rdjandalir (1996)

NSBM.

That’s ‘National Socialist Black Metal’ for the uninitiated. I have no doubt that such a concept would have made a few of you squirm and I certainly did when it first became known to me. For Black Metal, an already intensely dark and controversial area of music in its own right to be mixed with such a brutal ideology may prove too much for some to stomach.

But come now, Varg has been subtly extoling his ‘aryan virtues’ since at least ’93. And if mere controversy makes you feel uncomfortable then you should not be listening to Black Metal at all!

I have always approached NSBM from one stance: Ugly people with ugly ideologies making incredible music. Of course, this is not always the case but I think it would be enough to name-check Hate Forest, Drudkh, Astrofaes, Kataxu, Sunwheel and Grand Belial’s Key off the top of my head to prove it. If you’re not familiar with these bands I suggest you check them out.


There’s a swarth of NSBM out there; some great, some fucking awful but this post intends to explore a particular niche of this often maligned genre. Based in Novomoskovsk, Russia, the BlazeBirth Hall circle was formed by Ulv Gegner Irminsson of Forest and Raven Dark. Elitist and staunch in its political beliefs, only close friends of Ulv were allowed to take part. In fact, the bands that became BlazeBirth Hall only ever seemed to include Ulv, Kaldrad (a particularly prolific musician within the collective) and a few various other comrades.

BlazeBirth Hall has become infamous within the international black metal scene for the string of violent crimes and revolving door jail sentences related to the group. In 2005, Ulv was brutally stabbed to death with the circumstances surrounding his murder left strangely unclear.

It’s obvious how dubious these people are, yet my interest in BlazeBirth Hall lies solely in the music it created. To edit my initial statement, BlazeBirth Hall can be summarised thus: ‘Ugly people with ugly ideologies making some of the most beautiful, reflective and mind-bending music that I have ever heard.’ Don’t believe me? The albums I’ve included with this post will hopefully change your mind.

Forest’s As a Song in the Harvest of Grief opens with a notable ambient guitar piece, held together by a drunken folkish melody while two buzzsaw guitars climb bizarre scales in and out of its gnarled husk. A listen to this album is worth it just for this opening track. What follows is a suprisingly savage and melodic album with a deliciously raw guitar tone and desperate, anguished vocals. I suppose a fair comparison would be early Burzum although more hynoptic, grim and inaccessible than Varg could ever manage.


1. Into The Mouth of Breath
2. By The Flame in Our Veins
3. To The Spirits Fire
4. Where the Truth is One…
5. Spilt Be, The Scum of Blood
6. As a Song in the Harvest of Grief
7. Storm till the Ocean’s Heart
8. Untitled Track

Branikald’s Rdjandalir is not all that different from Forest, not through emulation but because they are both projects of Kaldrad and his brilliant style takes centre stage on both records. Rdjandalir features four long compositions of raw and ambient black metal that surges and stumbles across 45 minutes. I’m not sure what to say but I am sure that I failed to do Forest justice above, and I’m not about to do the same for Branikald. Just know that these are a couple of my favourite black metal releases.


1. Microcosm of the Spirit
2. Spirit Sense
3. By the Timeless Nightly Dusk
4. Rdyandalir

Oh and don’t forget, National Socialism is for faggots.

Hates music and writing. Unfortunately, he's a journalist.

11 Comments

  • Reply December 12, 2009

    Bile

    Worth a comment to mention the 'Blazebirth Hall: Hammerkrieg' Compilation from 2003. More staple Russian elitism for your diet ^___^

  • Reply December 12, 2009

    Segue

    Nice post man. Black Metal isn't usually my thing, but you've piqued my interest.

    Props for the last sentence, it made me laugh ^_^

  • Reply December 13, 2009

    excellentsword

    Thanks Bile, I still need to get that from some where. May add it in future.

  • Reply December 17, 2009

    axadent

    I think Drudkh is debatable as an NS band. I know that it is made up of former Hate Forest members but they are FORMER and none of the Drudkh releases seem to feature overt NS material. So if you are troubled by aligning yourself with NS stuff but would like to hear some epic atmosphere then Drudkh is a great place to start. Also maybe it was just a joke of sorts but I feel like I have every right to listen to Black Metal but disdain NS because I want to destroy traditions not uphold them especially because they are not innate. All facets of cultures are invented and where a person is born should be of no concern. I am an individual before anything else so alignment with any group is suspect.

  • Reply December 17, 2009

    excellentsword

    Like I said, I listed those off the top of my head and the Hate Forest connection was too obvious. Anyway, of course you have a right to disdain NS, I'm not a Nazi either. Nor am I a Satanist or a pagan. I just like Black Metal. All this post is about is the music. It's actually really good. Lyrical content isn't even disernable but if you can't even stand to listen to a band because of their ideology then I respect that. I hope you downloaded it anyway because it's really great black metal.

  • Reply December 17, 2009

    axadent

    Just want to say that I thank you for the even handed reply. I think your presence among the other blogs out there is great. I was just sort of thinking out loud. Please keep up the good work as it is appreciated.

  • Reply December 17, 2009

    excellentsword

    Wow, thanks. I'm sure the other guys will be really happy to read that! And don't worry about it, say what you want to say. I am aware that nsbm is a controversial area, it just made it all the more enjoyable to write about.

  • Reply February 15, 2010

    Anonymous

    Every major news network has a political agenda. Im not going to stop watching 30 Rock because their run by fox, who are democratic scumbags. Who cares what these guys think or do, as long as it's interesting/entertaining I'll watch, listen, and read. What I choose to believe is a different story all together.

  • Reply February 16, 2010

    Anonymous

    I'm not sure how it's working for everyone else, but when I extract the files, winrar tells me that track 2 is corrupt.

  • Reply February 17, 2010

    excellentsword

    Thanks for the heads up anon, I'll see what I can do about it when I have the time.

  • Reply February 18, 2010

    excellentsword

    Edit: Can you tell me which album it was?

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