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  • Writer's pictureJJ Frederick

Christmas in the Woods: Black Metal Christmas II

Updated: Dec 26, 2019

Celestial bodies converged on the night of the Winter Solstice at the Lookout Lounge. Through a cancellation by the band Vulthooom and an attendee defecating on the front door of the club, the event persevered. On the bill were Crypt Fiend, the Omaha black metal project that organized the event, and fresh acts Elend and Darkness, both of which do not have much of a portfolio compiled as of yet. This allowed for each band on the bill to stretch out and really display their respective repertoires.

Opening the bill was the two piece Darkness, with an ambitious approach to atmospheric black metal. Bands like Agalloch, Drudkh, and Wolves In The Throne Room were channeled by the duo in their set, who handled the challenge of performing their expansive songs with such a small roster. This outfit isn’t something like a black metal White Stripes, they incorporate acoustic guitars and keyboards along with the standard black metal fare of electric guitar and drums. Be on the lookout for these guys, they are currently recruiting additional members in order to fulfill their musical vision.

Playing the middle slot were Elend, who unlike Darkness, enjoy the benefit of having a fully fleshed out group of musicians: drums, bass, and three guitarists. The guitar triple threat creates an opaque wall of sound while retaining enough aural nuance to let the instruments breathe. For example, one guitarist will lay down a foundational rhythm guitar line, another will harmonize with that riff, and the third will solo. Stylistically, Elend seems like equal parts post-hardcore and atmospheric black metal. The riffing is far too meaty to allow for Elend to be mistaken for a blackgaze band, and oftentimes evokes bands like Helmet and Hum just as much as they do Blut Aus Nord or Weakling.

Finally, headliners Crypt Fiend hit the stage with their take on traditional black metal. The influence from acts like Marduk, Dark Funeral, and Gorgoroth is quite apparent, yet is highlighted by more buttoned-up by comparison riffs and breakdowns that are reminiscent of traditional heavy metal and groove metal. Their set closed out the night, making for a kvlt and grim live music experience, and this writer certainly hopes there is a third annual Black Metal Christmas, and a fourth, and a fifth, and so on.

Omaha certainly isn’t what your pedestrian metal listener thinks of when one mentions black metal, and while this “O” town is not as well known as another city across the pond (Oslo, Norway) for producing a bountiful crop of black metal, the fact that this little micro-scene exists at all is exciting. The Second Annual Black Metal Christmas was another live music experience that shows that metal music is thriving in this fair city. Turnout was commendable, and hopefully is a sign that interest in the local heavy music scene is gaining momentum. Here’s to hoping for more great live metal in Omaha next year and an even bigger and better Black Metal Christmas next year.

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