If you are an open-minded fan of extreme music/black metal etc please read on. If otherwise, read on anyway.
Unblack metal, otherwise known as Christian black metal has been the subject of criticism, controversy and even in the case of a couple of bands, physical attacks and threats predominantly from insecure or angry “fans” who deem the terms “unblack” or “christian black” metal to be polar opposites of the so-called true meaning of what black metal is about.
However, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Many of these bands can stand toe-to-toe with the best of/most legendary of black metal artists. Fallen Oak Recording has just released the perfect introduction to those who are willing to give this criminally under-looked and misunderstood area of metal. And it’s only 5 dollars (for the digital download).
The physical release sold-out quickly before it was even printed if that tells you anything about the quality of the music on the album. However, Metal Helm might still have a few copies. The link is below.
One of the many things that is great about this release is that it presents a collection of various bands each with their own distinct brand. You’re not just going to get the crusty Darkthrone-esque old school sound (although that is present as well). You’ll get the new, the old, the stripped-down and the symphonic. So, if you are a fan of one and not the other, you’ll get something from this for certain.
What follows here is a interview with Fallen Oak’s (aka Vials of Wrath) DC Mills:
- Hymns of the Blackest Light Vol. 1 on your own label Fallen Oak. “Vol. 1” implies that there may be at least a “Vol. 2.” Is that the plan?
Yes, based on the success of this one. We hope to do a least a few more yearly releases that give independent, or unsigned, bands and artists affiliated with the Blackest Light Forum a chance to have their music published to get some exposure. Short runs of CDs make this a bit of a collectible as well for those who still want physical-format music as opposed to digital downloads.
- The first pressing of HBL V. 1 sold out in the pre-order with the exception of the stock on Metal Helm. Are you planning on doing a re-print of this?
It’s a possibility, but it looks like there may be a few more copies available after the initial sell-out. I had set aside a few for reviews and promotion, but I was pleasantly surprised that the ones created for public purchase went so quickly – so we’re going to sell the promo/review copies as well.
- Are you planning any other releases on your own Fallen Oak other than these and your project Vials of Wrath?
Not at the moment. There are enough independent labels out there already and I’m not looking to compete with them. This was just something I wanted to do in conjunction with the forum to return the support I’ve been shown with my own music.
- What do you say to the black metal fan who:
a.) Refuses to have anything to do with something labeled “Unblack” or “Christian Black” metal? or…..
b.) Listens to an Unblack band not knowing the message behind the music, then finds out but still is skeptical?
I would hope that the music speaks for itself. If someone judges it based on lyrics alone, that’s there prerogative. But it can be a close-minded view. To deny the quality of the art based on affiliation with Christianity would be similar to denying the work of the Sistine Chapel, or Michelangelo’s David. Mind you I’m not saying our music is anywhere near this caliber, but this is my current “argument” over playing metal and being Christian – whatever sub-genre it may be.
If someone listens and is still a skeptic, I’d then ask “what makes this music any less relevant as a means of worship or expression?” To the fellow Christian who says this can’t be used to glorify God, I’d say “read the lyrics and take time to understand the heart of the music. Most of the songs could be performed in church if the guitars weren’t distorted, the beat slowed down, and the vocals sung instead of screamed or growled. To the non-believer, “Why is it okay for virtually every other belief to be used as a means of expression except Christianity? There’s everything from atheistic, agnostic, norse gods, wiccan, satanic, pagan, Egyptian, and so on… but the Christians are the only ones mocked. Tends to prove Luke 21:17 true though, doesn’t it?
- There are a number of bands on this album with varying styles. How did you select which bands to put on there and are any of the tracks exclusive to this release?
I actually just went with whoever submitted music first until we filled up an entire CD. There are many talented artists on The Blackest Light’s forum and it didn’t take long to do! A few tracks (for now) are limited to this release. I know my own song, All That Is Left In Shade, will only be available via this album and a split vinyl with Consuming Fire coming out soon. However, all of the artist retain the rights to their music and are free to make it available later as they see fit.
- Traditional black metal purists might say that “real” black metal is defined by certain elements. Do you think that it’s more important to create a particular atmosphere for this kind of music or to maintain certain musical characteristics (i.e. tremolo picking, purposely raw production, high pitch screams etc.)
I would have to say both actually. All of the elements mentioned work together to create the atmosphere that’s vital to this style. While using any of them alone – tremolo picking, high-pitched screams, etc. – doesn’t make for “black metal” the key element, in my opinion, has to be some kind of atmosphere. Be it dark, depressive, or epic and grand in scope.
- For the moment, let’s talk about your band, Vials of Wrath. Your last full-length album was released in 2015. What’s next and where do you see the musical direction going?
I’m currently writing and recording for my third full-length to be out later this year. I’m hoping for a Fall-early Winter release. The direction will be fairly consistent with the last album, but the songs are more personal so far this time. Lots of life changes have impacted my writing and lyrics so far. There will be more acoustic passages, and perhaps heavier parts, than the last album as I express emotions more strongly than in the past. There’s also going to be a different approach to recording and the mastering will be done at a place well-known for this style.
- I’d like to get your thoughts on this theory I have. As you know the first wave of black metal is considered to be the likes of Venom and Bathory etc. The second wave is to contain the likes of Darkthrone, Burzum, Mayhem etc. The theory is this… there is actually a “third” wave currently occurring. The characteristics are sort of like what we are seeing with bands like Alcest or An Autumn for Crippled Children; more melody, memorable songs, somewhat shoegaze-like.
I can agree with this. It’s this “third wave” that I hope to be categorized in myself. Up until this point, black metal was heavily pagan/satanic with the exception of a few bands. The latest incarnation sees it being utilized in more expansive ways. Bands like Alcest, Deafheaven, Les Discrets, Ameseours and many others have taken elements of it and used their own artistic license to create something new and fresh. Not to take anything away from the previous waves – all of which I’ve enjoyed and influence me as well.
- You’ve traveled far too deep into the woods and the battery in your Ipod runs out. What’s the one song or album you are going to miss until you find your way out. Maybe it’s a Vials of Wrath song that means the most to you?
I’m going to go with the first album that popped in my head and say “The Mantle” by Agalloch. That album just screams “alone deep in the woods.” I don’t listen to my own music much after it’s been released (as I’m usually tired of hearing it from the writing/recording process).
- Many years from now, a distant relative finds a box in an old abandoned family house. In that box is a copy of Hymns of the Blackest Light. They listen to it all the way through. What do you want them to know about the release or the story of Vials of Wrath?
That several Christian artists, Vials of Wrath included, did their best with the talents and abilities God gave them to bless others and express themselves the best way they knew how – with the music they adored and were passionate about – and that it showed.
Highlights: O, Majestic Winter, Vials of Wrath and Through the Thorns.
Give it a shot for heaven’s sake. It’s only $5 for the digital download. It doesn’t get much better than that for 14 bands.
UPDATE 4/2/2017 – A few physical copies of the album have been located and are available now but will be gone quickly.
- Ohen – Valley of Dry Bones
- Through the Thorns – Master of the Universe
- O, Majestic Winter – Tempest of the Great Owl
- Bozkath – Through the Darkness
- Orationem – A Blessing for All
- Blood Thirsty – Beheaded
- Corpse – Chilling Fear
- Amelioration – All Hail the Administrator
- Ravish – The Bread of Life
- Timoratus – Eternal Loss
- Stormsinger – VII – Terminus (Demo 2017)
- Vials of Wrath – All That Is Left in Shade
- Sentinel Mysterium – There Was No King (Instrumental Version)
- IHS – O Ignee Spiritus
https://fallenoakrecording.bandcamp.com/album/hymns-of-the-blackest-light-vol-1 http://metalhelm.com/ (check for available CD copies) if Fallen Oak is out.