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  • Review by Faye Coulman


Dark Matter explores black metal’s notorious, curious and always controversial ties with death and self-destruction

Picked out in lurid pools of rapidly congealing crimson, black and scarlet, a semi-naked form slumps dead-eyed and lifeless over a bathtub generously dashed with gore, frozen forever in the final, pitiful throes of death. Slick and glistening against the cold, yellowish pallour of dated porcelain, each and every detail captured by an eye visibly savouring the abject horror of the scene, the unmistakable, meatily invasive stench of death hanging heavy in already rank and mouldering air. A grim spectacle that leaves us pondering whether we may have unwittingly stumbled upon the scene of some ghoulish and unspeakable act of self-slaughter or homicide…

And yet, contrary to casual appearances, this is in fact a carefully posed and premeditated act of self-mutilation calculated to inspire in the observer feelings of overwhelming horror and unease. The perpetrator responsible for such a twisted stunt? None other than Shining’s famously controversy-courting frontman Niklas Kvarforth; a character whose public parading of violent self-harm and erratic, inflammatory behaviour is inextricably linked with an equally notorious, frostbitten craft that famously appeals and appals in equal measure. For those already acquainted with these wintry, brimstone-scorched vibrations, the subgenre in question needs no considered explanation or preamble.

Nourished by the darkest of wretched, misanthropic energies, few denominations of heavy metal plunge so utterly into the fathomless depths of human suffering, lunacy and despair as the notorious practitioners of this diabolical art form. Unparalleled too is the ritualistic fervour of its live performances whose grisly acts of bloodletting and ceremonial brandishing of fire and rotting flesh ignite frenzied heights of euphoria in participant and spectator alike. From those who deftly weave these ink-black yarns of mortal suffering into rich tapestries of tremolo-laden aggression to performers whose less-than-healthy mode of self-expression finds an altogether more frightening and physical release, there’s no denying the integral role human suffering plays in breeding exquisite acts of dark-hearted creation.

And, as absurdly paradoxical as the connection between creativity and crippling self-destruction may seem, black metal’s brimstone-scorched ranks are indisputably rife with evidence of its flourishing virulence. With the vital aid and practiced insight of some of the genre’s leading luminaries at our disposal, Dark Matter sets about unravelling the whys and wherefores of this intriguing and oftentimes chilling phenomenon…

Volume I feat. Shining's Niklas Kvarforth:

Volume II feat. The 3rd Attempt's Kaahrl Ødemark:

Volume III feat. Wallachia's Lars Stavdal:

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