Germ - _Wish_
(Eisenwald Tonschmiede, 2012)
by: Johnathan A. Carbon (7.5 out of 10)
Alright, I give up. You guys won. Fuck it. For the longest time, I fought against the terms "post-black" and "black gaze", but I am tired of always losing. I fought this fight for many reasons:

1. The term "post" used in the context of antecedents and consequents implies there is a "before" and "after" point of black metal. This is silly because the second generation bands experimented with structure from the style's first wave.

2. Used in the context of post-rock, the term is also silly because atmospheric black metal shares similar qualities and often times the same bands.

3. "Black gaze" sounds stupid.

4. The divide between post-black and atmospheric black is often used to identify bands of supposed hipster alliance.

5. Post-black does not fit neatly into my historic and obsessive timeline of black metal.

I fought these terms for a long time because I thought "third generation" or "contemporary black metal" could encompass everything. I thought we could all be happy, but you guys are goddamn impossible to work with. Within the varied world of contemporary black metal, there exists a strand of records similar in theme and disposition. They are experimental, artsy, and above all anti-traditional. This is why we cannot have nice things. Thanks a lot, Deafheaven. Thanks a lot, Caïna. Thanks a lot, Germ.

Germ is the project of Tim Yatras, who is one of the creators behind the Australian black metal project Austere. Yatras also contributed his talents to the fantastic 2011 release _Torn Beyond Reason_ by related Australian act Woods of Desolation. Germ is very much a black metal project, as much as it isn't. With as much influence from pop music as heavy metal, Germ is a champion for post-black metal.

_Wish_ is the debut release for Yatras and his newly christened project. In recent years, Yatras has been involved in numerous projects, all with varying interests and directions. There are even unconfirmed rumors regarding Yatras' move into Jpop compositions. While this sounds ridiculous, _Wish_ displays Yatras' peripheral interests as it oscillates between black metal, emotional electronic pop and synthesized cosmic travel. It is time to get weird.

The instrumentation on _Wish_ is geared towards monumental crescendos which climax with either clean emotive choruses or indiscernible Pterodactyl cries. This, combined with songs marrying space description and emotional ruin, results in one of the strangest yet interesting records of recently memory. I say this after a couple years of black metal anarchy. We've already had a saxophone enter the arena, why am I surprised this is happening? Goddamn it Krallice, put down my lamp!

To anyone familiar with Yatras' earlier work in Austere, _Wish_ should come with little surprise. Austere's work, while more traditional, sets the template of shrieks weaving through a lattice of experimentation sections. To compare most albums to Austere's 2009 _To Lay Like Ashes_ is unfair, as few albums can compare to the beauty of its desolate landscapes. Germ also has dance beats -- lots of dance beats.

The electronic elements in _Wish_ provide a very thick base for Yatras' shrieks and emotive cries. Already the electronic aspect in this record is being mislabeled as "trance". Perhaps for most people, all electronic music is either trance or techno. _Wish_'s synth section is atmospheric and at times drives the climaxes to reaches of the furthest nebula. Songs like "Flowers Bloom and Flowers Fall, But I'll Still Wait" and "Asteroid of Sorrow" only work because of the additional elements. _Wish_ also works because its creator and audience have long resigned their reservations.

Perhaps I enjoy _Wish_ because it is about space. Perhaps it is yet another album ripping away black metal from its elite tradition. Perhaps it is because it introduces electronic elements which have been done so poorly in the past by less successful artists but somehow work in its own favor. Perhaps it is because _Wish_ and Germ has finally allowed me to see post-black as a defined category. Somewhere between pretension, insanity and a progressive future lies Germ.

Whatever the reason for understanding, be it "hipster black" or "experimental black", contemporary black metal shares similar traits. There is a similar vein of divorcing aspects of black metal and replacing them with non traditional elements. Whether or not it is Wolves in the Throne Room embracing Krautrock and cosmic transcendence or Nachtmystium paying tribute to Pink Floyd, post-black is developing into its own entity. I feel comfortable with post-black because it seems to be an undeniable force, yet separate from the progress of black metal. This is not the end, mainly a detour. There will be others like it in the future.

(article published 3/6/2012)


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