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In the last couple of years Göthenburg-based Nachtlieder, the studio project conceptualized by multi-instrumentalist, part-time yogini and natural born philosopher Dagny Susanne, has established itself as one of the most potent and distinct new voices in the Swedish black metal pantheon. Her third album “Lynx” fully delivers on the promise that 2015’s loosely conceptual “The Female of the Species” only hinted at. While her 2013 debut was serviceable in the very least, it didn't leave much of an impression on this scribe. On “The Female of the Species” Nachtlieder truly transformed into a distinct entity with its own recognizable vision and voice. “Lynx” builds, but also expands and deepens, upon that foundation and sees Dagny elevating her songwriting to a higher creative plateau. “Lynx” has Susanne at her most bloodcurdingly predatory and perhaps now more than any time before is Nachtlieder red of tooth and claw.

On the whole we’ve always been fairly ambivalent at best and completely indifferent at worst to Swedish black metal as a genre. There are records that we unequivocally love. “Summon the Beast” from the Hypocrisy side-project The Abyss, “The Secrets Of the Black Arts” from Dark Funeral, the first few Marduk albums, “The Somberlain” and “Storm Of the Light’s Bane” by Dissection (who we’ve always considered more of an epic heavy/thrash metal band than an outright black metal one) and selected works from Setherial, the the grandmasters of imitation and derivation, such as “Nord”, “Hell Eternal” or “Endtime Divine” and “Vittra” from Naglfar. The post-David Parland releases from Dark Funeral, the shortlived more death metal tinged The Legion, and the numerous more smaller hordes that persist in the underground have not helped in swaying us to stay current with what’s happening in the scene. Over the course of a decade and now three albums deep into her career Dagny Susanne has proven that she’s persistently deadlier than the male. Nachtlieder is the kind of project to breath new life into a stagnant and regressive genre without the need of a gimmick or being overly innovative.

The lynx has largely been associated with awareness, ability, balance, and change. It is a symbol of knowledge, clairvoyance, and wisdom. Across cultures (Greek, Norse, North American and Asian, among others) and times the lynx has borne silent witness to the foils and follies of humankind and is widely considered an often nigh on invisible sage of secrets both corporeal and ethereal living in great solitude and isolation. In medicine the lynx symbolizes sharp senses. Much like the titular felines an air of mystery surrounds Susanne who has revealed herself as a woman of many interests. It greatly speaks to her sense of individuality and independence that she continues to explore themes and subjects relating to the female experience. Susanne is not a woman to be pigeonholed to a convenient genre tag and with each subsequent offering Nachtlieder continues to expand into grander, ever more ambitious concepts. While Nachtlieder’s 2013 debut didn’t leave much of an impression other than being an extremely capable exercise of the form her subsequent album(s) have shown her as an agile musician and composer. Nachtlieder wouldn’t be what it is without the loyal services of studio drummer Martrum and on “Lynx” he too delivers another stellar performance. The synergy between Dagny and Martrum is one of the project’s strongest features.

Nachtlieder has never been about inhuman speed (leave that to Setherial and their ilk) and much of Susanne’s songwriting is reminiscent of Enslaved (circa “Hordanes Land”) and early Immortal records as “Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism” and “Pure Holocaust”. Instead of the more Nordic inclinations of her possible inspirations “Lynx” sounds clinically aggressive without that it ever regresses into gratuitous Norsecore blasts (something which Belgian horde Enthroned was often prone to early on) and atmospheric meanderings that serve no larger purpose. As much as the bass guitar is often dealt a cruel hand in most metal productions regardless of their size on “Lynx” it can be heard clearly. The string instruments contribute equally to the compositions and while the bass guitar never quite gets to weave any lead melodies its constantly throbbing pulse is essential for Nachtlieder to arrive at its distinct sound. By and large “Lynx” goes for a more primal and churning epic midpace than the more conventionally speed-oriented excursions from “The Female of the Species”. The primordially crawling, eerie melodies amplify Dagny’s rasping growl. Which doesn’t diminish in any way from tracks as ‘Law Of Decay’ that completely kill with their speed. The duo of ‘Eyes Ablaze’ and ‘Moksha’ conclude “Lynx” on a majestic dark note. Like the ferocious felines of the title Nachtlieder is both elegant and cunning in its assault.

An illustration from John Bauer isn’t typically something you’d expect of a black metal band, especially not in the light of the assorted works of Gustav Doré and Jannicke Wiese-Hansen more or less being standards of the form. “Lynx” avoids the usual monochrome canvasses by using a piece from Bauer as its artwork. The illustration in question is "Guldnycklarna" (Gold Keys) from 1915 that figured into "Bland tomtar och troll" (Among gnomes and trolls), an annual collection of fairytales for children that was first saw publication in 1907. A variety of authors wrote for "Bland tomtar och troll" and Bauer contributed illustrations every year until his death with the exception of 1911. The collection steered domestic children’s literature in a new direction by incorporating themes from folk songs into the various fairytales. After Bauer other illustrators followed among them Gustaf Tenggren and from 1927 to 1980 Einar Norelius with Hans Arnold following in his footsteps. Notable authors contributing to the tome include Hjalmar Bergman, Margareta Ekström, Gösta Knutsson, Severin Schiöler and Edith Unnerstad.

Eine kleine Nachtmusik might be Mozart's most enduring composition and Nachtlieder is the last thing you'd associate with fairytales and nursery rhymes there's something about Dagny's songwriting and her strong sense of individuality that easily places it among the classic bands of her genre. On “The Female of the Species” Susanne already showcased her uncanny ability to compose fully conceptualized pieces better than most of her peers in traditionally staffed constellations. In many ways Nachtlieder is the Scandinavian counterpart to Mediterreanean outfit Melencolia Estatica, the Italian project spearheaded by vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Serena Nardin. If there's something to be said about Nachtlieder as a band and Susanne as a person it's that she will go out of her way to avoid any cliché inherent to her craft. That truly is her greatest forté. Now that the "Lynx" is free to stalk its prey we can only wonder what Dagny will come up with next. It'd be interesting to see her take on the various female apparitions of Asian mythology (such as the ghosts of Chinese folklore or the Indian nagin, the snake spirits, to name two popular examples). If there's anything the metal scene at large needs it's visionaries. People like Susanne are vital. Suss isn't just kvlt, she's kvte too.

cover-raperevenge

Calgary, Canada fastcore/powerviolence unit Rape Revenge was only around for a brief three years. In the timespan from 2009 to 2012 they released two albums (which accounted for an EP each), of which “Rape Revenge” was the first. Shunned in their own region because of their outspokenness on a variety of socio-political subjects, straight edge/vegan lifestyle and DIY ethos Rape Revenge was the Canuck equivalent to incendiary Michigan, Detroit band Cloud Rat. This self-titled debut is a loosely conceptual, 10 track effort about animal rights, feminism, gender politics and egalitarianism.

Rape Revenge was formed in Alberta in 2009 by frontwoman Samantha Trees and drummer Matt Elbows, with a revolving cast of guitarists and bassists. On its debut recording Rape Revenge had a mostly female line-up consisting of Keaton Pridham (guitar), Arielle McCuaig (guitar) and Gwen Morgan (bass guitar). For its second EP saw both replaced by male members. Pridham fronts his own post-rock band Whale Mountain and experimental hardcore band Deformer. McCuaig and Morgan would resurface in garage rock band The Shrapnelles and pop-punk trio The Throwaways. Elbows has his own vegan powerviolence band Lab Rat, whereas Trees cut her teeth in indie rock band Eyes Full Of Stars and hardcore band Self Rule.

tumblr_inline_n92wrpyiy01rw72h2Much like defunct Slovakian grindcore outfit Idiots Parade simplicity and a brevity are Rape Revenge’s fortes. The band is squarely on the grind spectrum of the fastcore genre. The pace is utterly relentless and unforgiving. Trees easily matches Idiots Parade’s Petra in sheer ferocity and pitch. Like many of their contemporaries the bass guitar features prominently in the music. The riffs balance between punk, hardcore and sludge without pinning themselves to one specific genre. Only two songs come close to reaching the one-minute mark. Like most bands of this ilk it are the vocals and drumming that truly sell the record. Trees and Elbows are no slouches in their respective departments. Rape Revenge, both band and album, are inexorably aggressive, chaotic and violent.

‘Car Ride With A Vivisection Intern’ is about animal lab testing. ‘I’m Not Your Fucking Mother’ is about misogynist attitudes, mutual respect among the sexes and socially conditioning and gender roles. ‘I’m So Gay’ is a protest song against homophobia. ‘Dear Date Rapists Of St. Albert, AB’ is about rape culture, male domination and the culture of violence that inhabits the hockey teams in and by the more affluent parts of Alberta. In the track Trees makes no mistake about her intentions with such perpetrators, ‘If I find you / I’m going to fucking kill you’ she screams horrified. ‘Fuck Your Gender’ is about gender binarism and - identity. ‘Beauty Myth’ concerns body image, and has Trees screaming ‘it’s a lie!’. ‘Women’s Studies’ is about breaking away from established gender stereotypes and supports elagitarianism. ‘More Mosh, Less Macho’ deals with chauvinism and patriarchal attitudes in the hardcore scene. ‘Burn These Bridges’ is about overcoming oppression that women and girls face in modern day society.

Its confrontational, thought-provoking lyrics and frank outspokenness on a number of socio-political subjects led to Rape Revenge being shunned in the Calgary underground scene. Trees, who works as a counselor to sex workers, speaks with a degree of authority on the subjects she tackles as she experienced them first-hand or through her employment. The minimalist recording, and the band’s taut delivery of its stripped down and abrasively direct music, put all the focus on Trees and her politically-motivated lyrics. “Rape Revenge” is no easy listen, aesthetically as well as sonically - and that’s exactly the point. Grindcore, like punk and hardcore from whence it came, is about socio-political awareness and protest. Rape Revenge take the genre’s objective to heart and this EP is proof that the band wasn’t afraid to put its money where its mouth is.

Surely there are other, more marketable, bands just like it in various parts of the world – but seldom does a debut record crystallize the sheer essence of a genre as well as “Rape Revenge” does. What “Scum”, Napalm Death’s 1987 debut, did for the genre at its inception Rape Revenge does for the genre today. Explosive, subversive and relevant to the problems of its age and constituency – the record drags the tired and often imitated genre kicking and screaming away from the pangs of commercialism and back into the hands of the disenfranchised, the disillusioned and the dismayed. “Rape Revenge” has no ulterior motives except to confront the listener with the nasty underbelly of a male-centric society. They won’t stand for it, and neither should you. It’s time to act.