Noise Pollution #40: Dirty Black Summers Part I (of Too Many)

Published: May 30, 2024

I guess it was early in the summer of 1995 when I made plans to meet up with a girl I was talking to on the internet.She came down from New York City for a day and some change and there was zero fucking connection, so of course I made plans to visit her in the city a few weeks later and also beginning a pattern of pursuing people and places that resent me. Keep in mind that nearly thirty years ago this had an entirely different connotation than it does now, where if you met someone online and not at school you were a piece of shit, which was true in my case but for different reasons. Anyway, this meant taking a bus from Atlantic City to Port Authority in NYC, which I would come to do almost weekly years later, for different reasons, but since this was the first time I’d really gone anywhere “far” from home it already seemed like an incredible distance, to go to a place I’d only seen on TV, to meet up with a girl who was calling herself my “girlfriend” but had as much interest in me as most of middle America has in reading a book.

But, even though I’ve never truly been smart when it comes to those things, I did recognize that this was more of an opportunity to have a guide through the city, to show me the sort of shit that would come to dominate nearly every trip I’ve been on since: local record stores. At this point I had only really dealt with mail order like Metal Disc or Relapse, or my own local store that mostly did special ordering when it came to metal. I was certain I would experience some kind of revelatory moment when I walked into a store that carried death and black metal. Looking back, I realize that I was more preoccupied with music than actual social interaction, which I guess explains the lack of a future this “relationship” had.

I went up with a list of band names that I had never heard but wanted to check out, armed with the disposable cash a job washing dishes at the Airport Diner could provide. I was reminded of this whole thing recently because one of the bands I wanted to pick up was Winter, which I’ll get into later, and Göden, which features the aforementioned’s guitarist, Stephen Flam, has a new record, Vale of the Fallen, which brought me back to the first time hearing the opening call of “rise” on “Servants of the Warsmen.” 

I hadn’t really paid attention to Göden when they first emerged, so I missed out on the first record, Beyond Darkness, until later last year. I think it’s because the only post-Winter project I had ever heard was Flam’s Thorn, which I honestly don’t remember much about, other than we had it at the radio station I was with. I’d always meant to go back and revisit it, which I could have easily done instead of typing all of this, but a word count is a fucking word count. I had no idea Vas from Cycle Sluts from Hell was the vocalist or that she was also responsible for Hanzel Und Gretel who I’m pretty sure I saw live once and played their first record on my radio show. 

Jesus Christ I’m rambling. 

Göden was just as crushing as I should have expected but Vale of the Fallen is a step above that. Monolithic riffs, bringing to mind Hellhammer but with a Monotheist sound and mindset. Göden might be the best new(ish) doom band I have checked out and really latched onto in quite some time, it tends to be a genre that I somehow stay entrenched in the past with and don’t stick my head out too often (I’m shy, tee hee) so it really takes something special to pull me in. Vale of the Fallen will for sure end up in my list in December, and will stay in rotation as a reminder of the summer of 2024 much in the way Eternal Frost and Into Darkness remind me of 1995. 

So, like I said a few incoherent thoughts ago, I was ready for some kind of revelation when I visited NYC. I met up with Lisa at the bus station and she took me toward the Village to show me the culture, I guess. I pressed her on record stores and came to find out that she had no real idea, and that Pearl Jam was her favorite band so she had no use for indie shops.I realized I probably should have had some idea of this, since this was some kind of relationship adjacent experience, but listening and/or reading a room have never been a strong point for me. But she was open to wandering around to try to find some.

Look, we haven’t spoken in almost thirty years and she’s probably dead now anyway so I don’t think she’d mind me using her first name. 

We eventually did hit a few, though I don’t remember any of their names. What I do remember is having actual conversations with people working at one of them about local black metal and where to go to find underground records. This was the first time I’d actually met other people outside of my friends who were actually into this music, face to face. It was somehow an affirmation that it was something that existed outside of listening to a local college station or the CDs and tapes I owned. It was proof of life, if that makes any kind of sense.

This was right after my sophomore year in high school, at a time where I was beginning to develop into the triumph that you read today, and I often forget about moments like that, which really helped guide me in the right direction. 

My white whale at the time was a CD copy of Darkthrone’s Under a Funeral Moon, back at a time when Darkthrone records were somehow hard to come by, which remained elusive, but a chunk of titles on my wish list came home with me. I can’t remember most of them, outside of Samael’s Worship Him , Waves of Erotasia from Pyogenesis, and both Winter CDs.

I have always preferred Eternal Frost to Into Darkness, just something about the urgency that has caught me. The fact that Winter really took that Frost/Hellhammer sound but stripped it down even further is one of the key reasons I still listen to these recordings decades later.

That night we ended up at a park by her house and she told me I could put my arm around her but she would never kiss anyone because, ahem, her face was “sacred,” in an impressive yet oddly worded display of personal boundaries. It was still the first time I’d ever really been on a “date” and to be sitting in the middle of a place I’d only imagined at the start of one of the most transformative seasons of my life, it’s a nice memory. By the end of the summer I would be in two bands, writing a zine and co-hosting the radio show that introduced me to extreme music. Lisa would eventually tell me to fuck off (smart move) and I wouldn’t give it much thought, other than this hunger to get back to NYC, to explore the music scene and all this subcultural shit that was being introduced to me. It would be a few years until I got my chance.  

Also, I learned something while writing this and that fact is Pyogenesis are still a band and Jesus Christ are they awful. I knew they had flirted with being a pop-punk band for a few years but this whole Thirty Seconds to Mars mixed with The Cardiacs thing they have going on now? It makes me worried that one day I’ll become a caricature that held on too long, like Johnny Depp but with less (or more) feces in my bed. That’s something for my therapist and I, and maybe you too, in another two weeks.

Oh! I bought Solitude Aeternus Through the Darkest Hour on that trip too! 

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