Day 22 of the #mayvinylchallenge asks for your most recent purchase. I’m fairly particular when it comes to metal on vinyl, and black metal specifically. There’s little chance of a sonic upgrade over CD or digital when you’re talking about the production of a lot of classic metal (my beloved Darkthrone included), but as the genre continues to absorb influences and break away from the rigid tenets of its beginnings the production beefs up and can get downright nice. Nechochwen have quietly been showing folks in the know for over a decade they had the chops and commitment to craft some intense and thoughtful black metal focusing on their Appalachian roots, and on Kanawha Black, their first album in seven the duo of Nechochwen (Aaron Carey) and Pohonasin (Andrew D’Cagna, also of Ironflame) show just how far their sonic palate has expanded with an epic, progressive album that breaks their own mold.
I come to black metal for different reasons, and so my tastes run fairly wide in the genre. Hearing the progressive folk and metal on a track like “I Can But Die Once” that recalls at certain moments Agalloch or even Opeth mixed with the band’s foundation was too good to pass up, and when I got to the massive death doom of “A Cure For Winter Plagues” I was glad for the warmth the vinyl brought to Kanawha Black‘s sound. The switch-up in styles between songs are only part of what makes the album work for me. Vocally the album goes to a lot of places, at times hitting hellacious lows before climbing back up through the grave for some serious black metal rasps. But the pair can also put the cleans on effectively, and it’s a credit that they never grate or feel tacked on for more commercial accessibility. More delights abound on highlight track “Visions, Dreams, And Signs” where black metal holds only the most tenuous of threads to a more robust and progressive metal sound that I hope the band carries forward, preferably sooner than seven more years.