Thursday, 22 May 2014

Extreme Thursday: Black September

The summer approaches, and the day star threatens to burn our pale, necrotic skin. The days are growing longer, the comfort of the dead of night a fading memory. But we will always have Thursday.

This Thursday we are taking offence. It's something that's done a lot in the extreme metal world. Whether it be the blatant horrific imagery, unnecessary unpleasantness, or sacrilegious connotations, it's obvious that being vile and offensive is key to many bands' images. This is especially true in the more extreme death and grindcore bands.

This week's offensive band is Black September. When I first heard the name, it just sounded like a pretty cool band name. Upon searching, however, I discovered that it's actually the name of the 1970-1971 Jordanian civil war and, subsequently, the name of the group responsible for the kidnap and murder of 11 Israeli athletes and officials at the 1972 Olympics. This has been considered distasteful by some, even within the world of metal. I can't help thinking that that makes it a perfect death metal band name.

Enough of my rambling; let's get on with talking about death metal. Black September were formed in Chicago in 2006 with the intention of producing high quality death metal with a difference. Featuring more prominent riff and twiddly bits, it manages to have a more accessible hook without straying into melodeath or progressive death territory.

Started by various ex-members of defunct band Thin The Herd, including guitarists Mike Lorr and Chris McMorrow and vocalist Jen Pickett, Black September produced their first demo pretty quickly and followed it with an EP, Tide Of The Storm,  in 2007.

Tide Of The Storm incorporates noticeable black and doom metal influences, alternating slow, plodding and dense doom-filled riffs with a faster, more urgent death metal thrash with interludes of delicate guitar to crush the listener under alternating moods of rage and despair. It results in a heavy sound that never gets dull or samey.

Following on from Tide Of The Storm, Black September collaborated with Thou for the split single Thrive & Decay before producing another self-released EP in collaboration with Winters In Osaka in the form of Hordes Of Flesh And Bone. Featuring a single 11 minute track rather than the three or four short tracks one might expect on a death metal EP, it shows off the band's more progressive side.

Keen on limited issue pressings, or just strapped for cash, Hordes was limited to just 100 copies, and its follow up, The Sermon Of Vengeance, to 500. This does mean that finding a physical copy of these EPs is unlikely. Thankfully Bandcamp now exists!

Like its predecessor, Sermon uses longer tracks, two of them this time, adding up to 11 more crusty, death filled minutes. The band's sound is defined at this point, and by 2010 Black September were ready to produce a full length; The Forbidden Gates Beyond.

The band's style shifts slightly on Forbidden Gates, moving away a little from the death/doom combo of earlier records. Instead it couples apocalyptic lyrics about eternal, undying pain with a somewhat more defined death metal style makes for a sinister experience that bears many a repeat listen.

Initially released as a limit edition 500 copy gatefold LP by Shaman records, The Forbidden Gates Beyond was rereleased on CD in 2011 when the band were signed to  Prosthetic records. 

Black September's most recent outing is their 2012 full length, Into The Darkness, Into The Void, again on Prosthetic Records. Starting SD they mean to go in, the album opens with a  polished, crushing death riff before letting loose in a similar style to Forbidden Gates. 

Into The Darkness brings with it a subtle shift in sound, with the riffs taking centre stage and the vocals pushed up and back into the mix. The force of Jen Pickett's growls shift into a rasp that underlies the high speed riffing, giving the album a tense, disconnected feel. 

Since the release of Into The Darkness the band have continued gigging in their local area, but have otherwise been relatively quiet. They have, however, made their entire back catalogue (except their very first demo) available on Bandcamp as a name-your-price offer, so there's plenty of Black September to catch up on.


Originally posted by Craig Andrews -