Anyone who thinks black metal is at a standstill just isn’t spending enough time indoors. Believe me, I’ve often been torn between going out for another round of pub trivia with friends and commiting a night to further immersing myself in the dark arts. Ya know, just drinking a box of wine, reading some Nietzche that I scribbled on the back of TGIFriday’s napkin and occasionally venturing out to kill a neighborhood cat. It’s kind of an antiparty of sorts. If one were to commit oneself to such rigorous academia, one would inevitably stumble upon a Finnish label called Hammer of Hate. They are home to some of the best bands around, specializing mostly in orthodox forms of black metal with an occasional divergence into industrial or avant garde directions. I’m currently at the front end of their roster but am quickly ripping through it. Imagine my giddy delight in finding out that a member of Nightside, a once brilliant and now defunct Finnish black metal band, had released a couple of EPs under with Hammer of Hate under the moniker Arsonist Lodge. SHUT. UP. What are the chances? With the album’s obligatory angular triple inverted cross logo and a band name that aludes to something that was just a byproduct of the Norwegian second wave, it has all the warning signs of terrible norsecore. In fact, it’s a dynamic and oddly musical ode to music in the vein of early Immortal and Darkthrone. Trust me, this is one of those moments where you’ll happily trade originality for competence.
“The Beast Awakens” – Yeah, ok. So, the band’s vernacular isn’t doing wonders for them but, trust me, the riffs are! This latest 2007 EP, Perkele, Antikristus ja väärä profeetta, probably means what it sounds like it means. The refreshing part is that it starts with a somber strum of the distorted guitar reminiscent of labelmates Nattfog and ends with a stomps to a satisfying conclusion.
“Gegen Kristus!” – Norsecore bands would never be secure enough in their own credibility to use b-movie audio samples the way Arsonist Lodge does. The listener is then free to enjoy a rough production with throat-ripping riffs you can actually hear! This is kind of what this Finnish label does in a nuts hell (you see wat I did there); they provide an outlet for bands who actually accomplish what norsecore set out to do. They streamline the sonic elements of black metal’s temultuous teen years and do it very well. More to come from Hammer of Hate.