2017 has been a hellish ride concerning underground extreme music both around the globe as well as locally. For me personally, that involved getting into organizing shows with both GRIMM Gent and Niflheim Promotions VZW. GRIMM’s venue JH Asgaard opened on the same evening that the other venue I volunteer in, the Vort’n Vis, opened the doors of its brand new building. This summation might come across a bit sterile, but being able to dedicate a big part of my time to music and DIY organisations is a dream come true. On top of all that, 2017 proved to be a very fruitful year for black metal, one of the few genres that doesn’t give a damn about the shitload of controversies that controlled (social) media last year. A massive list of albums came out so I tried to distill the most interesting. So without further ado, here we go…
|10-6||5-1||Honourable mentions||Top live shows|
Next to all these albums, I’ve been able to watch a ton of bands live – keeping track of all shows isn’t as time-consuming as staying up-to-date with releases, yet it still requires quite some effort. So here are some concerts I’ve enjoyed a lot, from bands you should check out when they play in your vicinity.
1. Godspeed You! Black Emperor (Kraterfront, 10/06/2017)
GY!BE has been one of the foremost post-rock bands of all time. So far I had missed all their shows on Belgian soil, but now the opportunity presented itself… Just 20 minutes by bike and free entrance is a scenario many hope to witness sometime, for me it became reality. On top of that, this was a special concert to commemmorate one of World War I’s most famous battles. Next to the classic 8mm-film projections there were spotlights installed at several kilometers from the stage, providing a huge spectacle that brought the whole landscape into the show. Even the full moon played its unintended part. The fact that they played the Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada EP in its entirety made it all the more worthwile. This 2 hour ‘concert’ was an experience by which I’m very impressed, even to this day. For those who want a sneak peek of how it all looked like, see below.
2. Emma Ruth Rundle (De Zwerver Leffinge, 23/11/2017)
Next to Chelsea Wolfe, Emma Ruth Rundle was one of those ladies who dominated 2017 music-wise. Be it her amplified set with backing band Jaye Jayle or the acoustic songs at the end of the concert, they all were super captivating yet enormously fragile. De Zwerver was sold out, and rightfully so.
3. Grave Miasma (Netherlands Deathfest 2017)
What a breakfast. After Pseudogod it was time for Grave Miasma to wake us up for the third and final day of Netherlands Deathfest 2017. Playing occult death metal of top notch quality, they made sure our ‘breakfast beer’ drowned our hangover a lot more easily. Grave Miasma gave us an overwhelming and brutal wall of sound that just blew you away.
4. Esben and the Witch (Charlatan, 23/02/2017)
As you can read here, Esben and the Witch played a magnificent set in Gent. Rachel Davies’ vocals were haunting, driven forth by a heavy bass sound and Pink Floyd-esque guitar melodies. Some heavy post-rock on a rainy Thursday evening.
5. Ultha (Antwerp Music City, 13/04/2017)
German atmospheric black metal outfit Ultha drowned the Antwerp Music City in gloomy tunes, at times reminiscing of early Burzum. One of my 2017 discoveries that stayed with me the most.
Honourable mentions: Sortilegia & Sinmara (Magasin 4, Brussels), Harakiri for the Sky & Sylvaine (JH Asgaard, Gent), Blaze of Perdition (JH Asgaard, Gent), Wolves in the Throne Room (STUK, Leuven), Demolition Hammer (Fall of Summer Festival), Fen (5 shades of black, Kavka Antwerp), the whole Netherlands Deathfest weekend.