Okay, I admit it – I was never a fan of Black Metal. I know this makes me tragically unhip, and I know it tarnishes my credibility as a music journalist (acceptance is the first step). It wasn’t for a lack of trying. I listened two dozens upon dozens of Black Metal albums. I watched a couple Black Metal documentaries (Until the Light Takes Us and One Man Metal) and left both viewings telling myself that I had to like something that was so pure, so raw, and so brutal. Yet, no matter what band I checked out, I just couldn’t get past the machine gun drums, grating guitars, and rasping screams. I was doomed to be lame (in the right measure).
I guess all I needed was for someone to come along and take this jagged, bulky genre and make it more accessible. In 2010 it was Norwegian band Shining’s Black Jazz, an album that melded the core tenets of Black Metal with jazz scales and saxophones. Of course, I enjoyed the jazz side more than the carnage, but it was a step in the right direction.