Review / Awenden & Feminazgul — Split EP

Black metal remains a genre of music that is shrouded in an occult mystique. Although this partly emerges from the aesthetics of the bands themselves, it also emanates from the genuinely transgressive beliefs of its more misanthropic exponents. Even though the genre is firmly rooted in the extreme, there are bands doing everything in their power to shed the abhorrent associations. Groups are starting to strongly pushback against fascism and Nazism so as to stamp out, and hopefully prevent, such troubling toxicity from maintaining a firm root in black metal. Of those on the front line of this black metal movement in North American are Awenden and Feminazgul

The three tracks, one by Awenden and two from Feminazgul respectively, that form the split come on the heels of an intensely rejuvenated black metal scene in the United States. The success of artists such as Liturgy, Wolves In The Throne Room, and labels such as The Flenser, have positioned the genre as a unique critical lens in North America that appeals to deeper philosophical and societal awareness. The aforementioned push to extinguish racism and bigotry within the genre is just one facet of the movement. Feminazgul, of particular note, has been incredibly outspoken about the progress of feminism and understanding the ills of misogyny that bleed into society.

Awenden’s offering, ‘Sam Slater Lighting Candles’, has intriguing connotations when examining North American history. Samuel Slater was responsible for sparking the industrial revolution in the United States; however, his business practices led to continuing struggles of labor ethics amongst female employees. An overwhelming aura of angst and disgust pours forth that alludes to the struggle of women workers being offered a menial light of support while being chained to unethical business practices. On the Feminazgul side of the split, sonic textures arise that feel like a Sergio Leone spaghetti western film. The plodding piano arpeggiations, punctuated chords, and metronomic drumming with natural sounds that open ‘Call Out Her Name When You’re Lost’ are deeply reminiscent of the late Ennio Morricone’s organic scoring style. The beautifully composed choral section that builds and builds upon the words of the track’s title, before spilling into driving brutality, gives a sense that the Earth itself is the one true protector. The true Mother of us all. 

As black metal continues to develop, the societally problematic iterations begin to collect dust on the shelves of time. They exist as sonic reminders to those who walk the path of darkness to not repeat history. Awenden and Feminazgul’s split is a masterful collaboration of positive genre progress, but one that also sends a message about the ills of society brought about by man.

We must protect the Earth. We must protect that which gives us life. We must protect and cherish our Mother. We must stamp out evil. 

This EP is out now via Tridroid Records and can be ordered here.

Words: Garrett A. Tanner

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