Friday, February 17, 2012
Get into: Fanisk
NSBM mostly sucks- everyone knows this. Like most genres of music which are inherently attached to an ideology, the ideology tends to come before musical quality in most cases, leading to a bunch of boring or outright terrible sounds which have no purpose other than to function as propaganda. As an adjunct to this general principle is another that's equally consistent: the more ostentatious such a band is about their given ideology, the worse the music tends to be. Most of the really good NSBM tends to be of the more subtle variety; the presence of Hitler, an SS symbol, or a swastika on an album cover more often than not means that the music within is utterly tragic.
Fanisk is one of the only exceptions to this rule. Look at the above cover: there's a giant, GIANT, completely unignorable swastika on the cover. The swastika is actually glowing. If the swastika could somehow blink with a bunch of LEDs like a Christmas display, I'm pretty sure it would. However, it just so happens that the music contained within the album is not only some of the best NSBM I've ever heard, but some of the best symphonic black metal I've ever heard regardless of ideology. Seriously, listed to the above track and try not to be impressed that it's made by a couple Nazis from Oregon.
Their Oregon origin might have something to do with the music's quality itself; while the band predates the Pacific Rim black metal style by a few years, it has many of the elements which would come to define bands like Wolves in the Throne Room: long, sprawling, linear songs, reduced vocal presence, and shimmering layers of synths and guitars creating a wall of somewhat droning melody. Fanisk, however, takes these typical elements and tempers them with a distinct edge of NSBM aggression and pride. Their songs aren't written so much as painstakingly composed; there's less "riffing" and more slow, ostentatious revealing of melodic themes over the course of long, winding tracks. The somewhat brittle production and speedy drum machine brings to mind acts like Daemonlord or Nevelrijk, where the too-fast, rushing rhythms give the glorious sort of melodies a wonderfully enthusiastic template to twist and turn over. Listening to a Fanisk track is an exciting experience, and the influence of classical music is more readily apparent in this stuff than in anything Yngwie has shit out over the past decades.
Now I just wish there were a few less swastikas on their album covers so I could show them to more people.
(A quick note: I'm pretty sure Fanisk's interpretation of national socialism is a bit sideways of most. They're pretty lyrically abstract and don't seem to dwell in mind-numbing racist boredom- they seem a lot more Savitri Devi than Vaginal Jesus about things. I'm not well-versed enough in nazi occultism or paganism to pick apart the details, so someone with more knowledge of what exactly is getting covered in the lyrics will hopefully comment, but for those put off by obnoxious "gas the Jews" chatter, there's a lot more going on.)