Is atmospheric BM an oxymoron?
By playing the newest album of Laster from Netherlands one question imposes: where does the black metal ends and another style commences?
The problem of the so called atmospheric black metal (mainly in North America, not exactly a problem here) and the similar blackgaze in Europe is that people ty to reinvent the steel (which cannot be reinvented). Of course, I’m not a stubborn who cannot live with changes but this is a subject for an article.
The thing here is that, differently from other bands, Laster is a pretty decent group, with pretty decent music. What one would call a flaw they would say they made on purpose, so it’s not a flaw.
For example, the album opens up with the title track with vitriolic black metal, no-compromise, Darkthrone style (with a better production, of course) but for those who expected pure black metal it is kind of anticlimactic, the layers start to wear off rather than come in, phrase by phrase the song starts to become bland until a full rocker, almost a brit pop, appears to the ears. It’s kind of a negative catharsis.
Second track Binnenstebuiten follows suit with the same MO, but although the third one Bitterzoet promises the same approach of take it or leave it, there appears an ultra-elegant sax to give a somewhat simple formula a lush treatment, merging the simple black metal bases with at least a complex layer of jazz.
But after the fail to convince the listener that this is indeed a black metal album although its pitfalls, the album suddenly starts to grow inside the audience with a cohesive factor, that doesn’t deviate from THEIR norm. That’s a bonus because, they do draw a frame for themselves and manage to keep inside this frame, which starts to make sense as some VERY repetitive phrases inside songs like Helemaal naar hui and Er wordt op mij gewacht appear.
This a 50/50 deal: to some this is heaven (woops) as music, to others this may not even sound interesting, and never before the perspective (as well as the mood) of the listener could decide if an album is ace or not. For me, at the end of the day, it worked very well.
(Daniel “Roderick Totentanz” Death)