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Bleak Sabbath: Did the mysterious occult group Jacula invent black metal in 1969?
02.27.2017
09:20 am

Topics:
Music
Occult

Tags:
Occult
Heavy Metal
Doom


Fumetti plus wizards = total doom

It’s either the most mind-blowing musical anomaly ever unearthed or it’s bullshit. Me, I prefer to believe. You will too. Light some black candles, take a slow sip from your crusty bottle of absinthe, and dig this spooky backstory….

In 1966, fledgling mystic Antonio Bartoccetti moved to Milan where he met a wizard named Franz Parthenzy. The two (apparently) communed with dark spirits who gifted Antonio with a musical vision so sinister and so subversive that it took him three years just to find collaborators brave enough to help him bring it to hideous life. He was eventually joined by an older British pipe organist with a classical background named Charles Tiring (R.I.P., presumably, unless he’s 118 years old) and a mysterious vocalist/violinist/keyboard masher, Fiamma Dello Spirito (or Doris Norton, as mere mortals call her).
 

 
Jacula was named after a popular erotic comic book at the time. They lifted their very metal logo from the comic as well. The songs were already channeled by Antonio, so all that was left was to record them. Legend has it that the first album, 1969’s In Cauda Semper Stat Venenum (roughly translated: “It always ends in poison”) was recorded in a crumbling British castle during a seance. Let’s go with that. The self-financed album was “released” in 1969—several months before Black Sabbath, incidentally—in a strictly limited edition of 333 copies. However, it was never sold in stores. Rather, it was handed out freely to like-minded occult dabblers, presumably for further spells and incantations. Cue a jarring crack of thunder and maniacal, mad-scientist laughter.
 

The world’s first black metal album?

So what does this album sound like? It sounds like Swiss extreme metal pioneers Hellhammer wandering onto the set of 1960s Mario Bava horror movie. It is Maximum Dungeon Synth, with a depressive church organist bonging away while mad monks chant and guitars drone. A shrieking violin cuts through the murk and wordless murmurs confront and confuse. The most jarring aspect, given the year it was created, is the thoroughly inhuman, wildly distorted guitar that permeates the recording, an oppressive boot-heel of ugly noise running roughshod over the perpetually gloomy atmosphere, especially on the album’s heaviest track, the epic “Triumphatus Sad.”  It is this sound that has caused so much contention with heavy metal archeologists, who swear that such wicked riffery could simply not have existed in 1969.

Prevailing wisdom with record collector nerds is that Bartoccetti overdubbed the guitars sometime in the 90s, concocting this hopelessly obscure hoax just to land the “first heavy metal album” mantle. Well, maybe. Black Widow Records reissued the album in 2001 and although the label did not get into details, the album was definitely “cleaned up” and restored from the crumbling 1969 reels, so it’s entirely possible that the Tom G. Warrior teenage Satanist guitars were dropped in later. But so what? Even without the distortion, the album envelops you in such a thick cloak of doom that you can practically feel the ancient slime on the castle walls and inhale the acrid smoke of burning witches.

No matter what, this album is heavy as fuck.
 

Bleak Sabbath: Jacula in the early 70s

More after the jump…

Posted by Ken McIntyre | Leave a comment
Holland’s Roadburn: a very different kind of festival

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So Coachella is happening. Everyone with even a passing interest in live music knows this (and most likely from the holographic Tupac performance that has become quite the meme already.) And yeah, Coachella looks cool and all, but what if that’s not your kind of thing? What if you want music that’s a bit darker, a lot heavier, basically more extreme? Well, while you are definitely in the minority there, don’t worry because you are not alone.

Happening over the same weekend as the first part of Coachella, but thousands of miles away (both literally and metaphorically) Holland’s annual Roadburn Festival is a celebration of all things doom, drone, experimental, noisy and heavy. This years festival saw performances from Michael Gira, OM, Voivod, Doom, Sleep, Kong, Yob, GNOD, Bongripper, The Obsessed, Jucifer, Black Cobra, Urfaust, Electric Orange and the very fun-sounding Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation.

Roadburn takes place over four days in the Dutch town of Tilburg, and has been steadily attracting a growing fan base over the last few years, enough to start its own record label (affiliated with Burning World Records.) Next year’s headliners have already been confirmed, and it will be industiral legends Godflesh performing their classic album Pure in its entirety.

Here’s a statement taken from the Roadburn website (which also features details on travel and booking tickets):

Holland’s very own Roadburn Festival has become Europe’s leading underground festival for psychedelic, avant-garde, doom or any other variation of leftfield sonic pleasures that push the boundaries of music.

Originally a spin-off of the Roadburn website, the Roadburn Festival has emerged as an event in its own right. It brings together bands, fans & media from around the world. Despite it’s international acclaim, Roadburn Festival retains an underground vibe and ethics, but with seriously big-league production values.

In addition to the music, Roadburn has earned a reputation as having a unique camaraderie between the festivalgoers, bands, organizers and staff, and ranks as one of the best and most laid-back festivals to be experienced. It is one of the festival’s primary goals to make the Roadburn experience second to none, not only for the fans but for the artists as well.

Check out the Roadburn website too for video and audio streams of past performances, and details on travel and tickets.

And while, ok, an extreme music festival is definitely not going to be to everyone’s taste (I think I’d have trouble listening to non-stop doom and drone for four days solid), it warms the cockles of the heart to know that something like this exists. Or maybe chills the cockles would be a better phrase?

Super 208 Productions have uploaded a series of video reports on the festival, one for each of its four days. Here’s part one, featuring music from Aggaloch, Michael Gira, OM,  Red Fang, and Voivod:
 

 
After the jump, Roadburn video reports parts 2-4 featuring live music from Sleep, Celestial Season, Bongripper, Purson, Kong, Valiant Thorr, Barn Owl, GNOD, Wino & Conny Ochs, Nachtmystium, Urfaust, Black Cobra, more Voivod and many more…

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment