THOSE WHO CARESS THE PALE
In 1994 Ved Buens Ende released their demo For Those Who Caress the Pale and from then on everything, well, everything pretty much stayed the same as if it had never been released. Mayhem’s De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas and Emperor’s In the Nightside Eclipse were released the same year, and I can only imagine that the whole underground metal scene worldwide was too busy trying to pick its collective jaw off the floor to notice a lo-fi demo from a band with a funny foreign name. The next year, VBE recorded their full-length Written in Waters and broke up without much notice in 1997. The band reformed briefly in 2006 but broke up again in early 2007 without having fulfilled any of their promises of live performances or new material, leaving Written in Waters as their first and final album.
Goddamn, what a piece of work this album turned out to be! Though black metal bands in particular are not unknown for lasting just long enough to record single demos before senselessly imploding, very few had ambitions as great as this band. Though I’m far from the first to make this comparison, Ved Buens Ende were to Norwegian Black Metal what Cynic were to Florida Death Metal. They displayed a maturity and diversity of influences far beyond their peers, most notably jazz elements that brought in neat progressive compositions and a rhythmic complexity. To say they were “ahead of their time” might be inaccurate since they remain fairly obscure but they were imagining the future sound of black metal when the genre was still in its genesis.
They never really received the same aging appreciation that Cynic managed to accumulate but there are a few Norwegian bands that continue their legacy today.
Den Saakaldte recently released their second album All Hail Pessimism last month. After filling the second place of my 2008 top ten list I was stoked to hear more from this super group composed of veteran Norwegian scenesters and sole Swede, Niklas Kvarforth of Shining. The album is overall about what I expected and includes re-recordings of the three “real” tracks from the previous album. My hope is that with this album seeing a wider release I’ll finally be able to find people who share even a fraction of my enthusiasm for them. They take their name from a VBE track and although they are more recognizably blackened they continue the tradition with some angular riffs and the general opium-dream vibe.
Virus’ The Black Flux didn’t make it to my top 10 list last year because I barely knew they existed. Had I listened to this album in the intensive way I have since I picked up a few weeks ago I can only imagine that I might have praised it as one of the most unique albums of the year. With two ex-members of VBE, Virus sounds in every way to be their true successor; The dissonant picked guitar chords, crooning vocals, walking bass-lines and danceable drumbeats all fall into place as if the original band had never quit.
If you like music that is weird, genre-nonspecific but moody enough for your metal-senses then you’ll find these three bands lurking at the edge of Norway.