A Blaze in the Pacific Northwestern Sky
"Cascadian Black Metal", some like to call it a sub-genre, some believe it's a scene. Whether it is either of those or just a group of unique underground bands, all hailing from the same epic region, there is no denying that something wicked and dark has been brewing from the roots of the Cascadian mountain range some some time now.
The Cascades, is a mountain range that hammers it's way through the pine covered landscape of the Pacific Northwest in North America. It begins it's mighty reign, deep within the Boreal forests of Canada, pushing southwards through Washington and Oregon state, down to northern California where it shares reigns with some of the most grand woods this planet has ever known, the mighty Sequoia trees.
These colossal mountains and northwoods are inspiring, humbling, spiritual and ancient. So it is no wonder that various black metal inspired metal bands have sprouted their seeds along this land. Much like their musical predecessors throughout the nordic countries of Finland, Norway and Sweden, were inspired by the ancient world around them, these bands have also crafted a fast and dark brew of distortion, conjuring visions of the natural world around them.
Bands such as Agalloch, Skagos and Wolves in the Throne Room, the later often hailed as leading the charge, all have output significant releases within the underground metal world and evolved the darkened sound of black metal in significant ways. Focusing on a sounds that are spellbound with atmosphere and ambience, as well as the usual traits of black metal magic; blast beats, icy vocals, haunting melodies and an assault of guitar distortion.
But at the heart of this music, the pulsating star that ties all these bands together, is the ancient flora and monumental rock that surrounds the creators of this unique form of music. It inspires and drives them so much that many, including some members from these bands often call their sound "eco-black metal". Not only are these bands inspired by their surroundings, their melodies and war drums scream in defense of our natural world. A world that is threatened by the commercial and industrial modern world which continues to pound its fist on our planet, at the expense of that which was here before us. Well these bands will not have us forget. Our place amongst this nature is a gift, meant to be cherished and worshipped.
The band Alda explains what their surrounding mean to their band and sound:
"The inspiration in our music is discovered within a state of mind where we feel in tune with ourselves as beings. We, as human beings and incarnated animals are participants within our landscape whether we acknowledge it or not. Our bodies and minds are sustained by the cycles of the water and air, the sun and weather, the subtle changes in the local flora and fauna. All of these things are imbued with a character that is unique to whatever region you may find them in, and for us they are expressed in the Pacific Northwestern bioregion. When we break it all down to the most embodied of essence, we are animals of this world, and our connections to these forces are deeper and older than political divisions and cultural allegiances. We spend integrated time out in nature here when we can, amongst the rivers, forests and the oceans, and draw inspiration both the raw majesty and deep wisdom of it, but also from our witnessing of, and participation with the toxic destructiveness of the modern world, from which we are inextricably connected. We’ve grown up in this region and grown into this awareness, and that is why we create this music in this way."
Lyrics featured in the following images are taken from songs by Alda, Agalloch, Skagos, Wolves in the Throne Room, Mount Eerie and Threnos